Nintendo Entertainment System
Micro Machines is not just another Nintendo game. It does not come with the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality so I was afraid of what the game could contain. That seal is the thin red lines protecting the consumer from What would Senator Joseph Leiberman think if he saw me playing Micro Machines? What nudity, sexuality, profanity, violence, drugs, political messages or religious symbols might I be exposing myself to? This game about racing little toys cars could contain literally ANYTHING. Maybe I should just skip this one. Maybe I should just stop my video game playing project for over a year.
Over time, my apprehensions were soothed by the goldenness of the cartridge. The only other gold cartridge I own is The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda is the easily one of the greatest Zelda games of all time. Surely this game must contain comparable worth, or they would not deem it worthy of a golden cartridge.
Emboldened by the canny Codemasters marketing department, I loaded the game into my NES. It wouldn’t start. I jiggled it. Nothing. I tried to take it out and found it was stuck. This is what happens without Nintendo’s team of Quality Engineers.
Eventually I pried it loose and found out that it had a NTSC/PAL format toggle on the back. Of course, the toggle wasn’t labeled by format, merely as "Position B" and "Position A". I flipped the switch and success! The game started. And sweet Christmas, it was so worth the build up.
Golden cartridge aside, you don’t really expect much from a toy license tie-in. They tend to be sub-par because the money spent on licensing is money not being spent on making a good game that is fun to play. This title, however, is everything I would want from a tiny toy car racing game, and I didn’t even know I wanted anything from that particular genre.
The game has tons of tracks and loads of vehicle types and there is a genuine difference between driving a roadster and driving a sports car. The tracks are set in bathtubs and tables and all sorts of other clever household environments and they all look gorgeous and and create a sense of whimsical fun. It is totally good shit.
Fun as the racing is my favorite part of the game is the character selection screen. You can choose from 11 different kids, despite the characters not actually appearing in the races, and having no attributes that affect play. It is wholly unnecessary, but these characters are all such wonderfully animated freaks that I am grateful for their inclusion.
It is hard to pick a favorite. I adore Joel, with his tattered shirt proclaiming "YUCK!" but my top pick has to be Walter, possibly the fattest fat guy I’ve ever seen as a video game playable character, and, y’know, I’ve seen E. Honda. In the game’s backstory that exists in my brain these eleven kids were a bunch of kids who were all picked last for sports who decided to find a new sport where the cruelties of nature would not prove a hinderance. He might get picked last for sports, but even Fatty-Fat-Fat Walt can be a winner in the rough and tumble. high stakes. anything goes world of micro machine racing.
What an awesome find. I will be playing the hell out of this game. If I’ve learned anything from Micro Machines it is that shiny gold video games are better than the regular kind. And that the Nintendo Quality Seal has more to do with cartridge construction than software content. And that tiny car racing is a totally valid sport. And that fat guys make awesome player characters. It was a lesson well worth learning.
Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.