There’s something enjoyable about viewing the world through the lens of tiny eyes. Codemasters’ legendary Mega Drive adaptation of Galoob’s popular Micro Machines toys cottoned onto this, allowing you to race around workbench surfaces and cereal encrusted breakfast bars. Table Top Racing, a PlayStation Vita port of Playrise Digital’s smartphone smash, has the same playful spirit under its hood – but does it stall at the start line, or surge into an early lead?
This isn’t identical to the aforementioned favourite. While a more traditional isometric option is available, the camera defaults to behind your vivacious vehicle, making this more like ModNation Racers or Mario Kart. Complementing that comparison, weapon boxes are strewn around the makeshift race courses, allowing you to blast your opponents with fireworks, bombs, and electro-magnetic pulses.
However, the looseness of the original Micro Machines titles is present and correct, meaning that you’ll be able to slide between blueberry muffins and barbecued burgers with relative ease. It’s a simple handling system – emphasised by a distaste for deceleration – but it feels fantastic, and is aided by a smooth framerate that gives you extraordinary precision over the angle at which you enter hairpin turns.
The tracks will test your dexterity, too, sending you swerving around sausages and screwdrivers. While there isn’t an enormous amount of variety in the arenas, the stages – which span a beach party, Chinese restaurant, and toy castle – are colourful and well designed, offering forward and reverse routes to keep you on your toes. The visuals are never going to blow your mind, but the loading times are swift and the performance, as mentioned, is sound.
However, it’s the sheer breadth of content that is the real joy here. In addition to four major championships, there are also dozens of drift challenges and a bunch of bonus special stages. These see you participating in anything from straight races to hot laps and everything in between. We’re particularly fond of the pursuit objectives, which see you tailing various different vehicles in an effort to thump them with your plastic bumper.
There are tons of different toy cars to add to your collection as well, though you will need to save your in-game coins in order to do so. As this is based upon a mobile title, it’s not exactly surprising to see microtransactions added into the mix, and this title will take the time to subtly remind you that you can replenish your virtual wallet by taking a trip to the PlayStation Store. Fortunately, you’ll earn more than enough cash through normal play to get most of the gear that you want.
This is especially true when you have a set of gold wheels attached to the axles of your vehicle of choice, as these will net you additional pennies for every drift that you make. And, as mentioned, you’ll need these coppers to expand upon your pretend showroom, with a driveable jumbo hot dog right through to the Mutts Cutts pooch mobile from Dumb & Dumber up for grabs. Naturally, each of these alternate options have different stats.
You can even customise the paint job, which is a necessity if you’re looking to take your personalised pimped up ride online. This mode supports up to four players, but sadly we were unable to test the feature out prior to publishing this review. Also available is an ad-hoc option if you have friends with the game, which is unlikely to be used by many, but is an appreciated addition nonetheless.
The problem is that it’s all quite unimaginative and safe. Many of the ideas on display here have been done a dozen times before, and while this title is competent in almost all areas of its execution, it never really tries to stand out. The car combat’s enjoyable – if impeded a little by rubber banding – and the controls are tight and responsive, but there’s nothing that’s going to make you scream with satisfaction.
With a price tag as small as its microscopic cars, Table Top Racing is an enjoyable novelty for a night or two. There’s some fun to be had here, spread across dozens of different events, and some vibrant environments. However, this isn’t an especially ambitious outing, so don’t expect it to drive away with your heart like the classics that it’s so clearly inspired by.