Earlier this month Codemasters revealed Toybox Turbos
, an arcade racing game that looks rather a lot like a new installment in the studio's long-running Micro Machines
Miniature cars driving along pool tables and kitchen tops? Check. Weapons to fire at each other? Check. In fact the only notable difference is that, well, it doesn't bare the Micro Machines
I wanted to find out why, so I had a quick chat with Chris Gray, executive producer on the project.
Why did you decide to go with a new name, rather than rebooting the Micro Machines franchise?
: We really wanted to bring back the tabletop racing genre that Codemasters helped define with the original games. Micro Machines
is very fondly remembered, but there is a whole new audience, especially in emerging markets that have never experienced this style of gameplay or the toys on which the original games were based.
So we had an opportunity to re-imagine this style of racing on a whole new set of formats, and for very different markets.
From what we can see of the game right now, it looks a lot like Micro Machines V4, but with comic-like visuals. Of course, V4 wasn't particularly well received -- so what are you doing with Toybox Turbos that is different enough that people will enjoy it more universally this time around?
: It was a completely new team and our goal was to re-imagine how a modern version of a combative, tabletop racing game would play.
While the team were, of course, familiar with the original titles, the goal was to not spend too much time looking backwards. Since the Micro Machines
games there have been other attempts to recreate their look and feel, but in our opinion they’ve never managed to fully recapture their spirit or sense of fun.
Significant improvements in hardware since the last releases enabled us to re-think all of the environments and create a much richer experience for the player. It also allowed us to create a unique art style for the game that took inspiration from modern animated feature films. Though we always wanted to stick with environments that were fun for racing tiny toys and were relatable to a child’s view of the world.
It feels a little like this is a more "safe" release, testing the water to see if anyone is still interested in this sort of game before potentially moving on to explore the genre properly. Is that fair to say? Do you think people are interested in racing games like this?
: No, it is not a "safe" release -- 18 tracks, 35 unique vehicles with physics based handling in a realistic, reactive world, online multi-player and more. None of this is safe and the team have poured a lot of love and effort into this game.
There is still a very large and broad installed base for PS3 and 360 and we don’t feel that every title always has to launch on the latest hardware. Having said that we absolutely hope that this first title provides a great foundation on which we can build for the future and we are keen to bring Toybox Turbos
to other formats.
Ultimately games developers are generally passionate game players and there was huge enthusiasm on the team to work on this title, so we took that as a strong signal that yes, this style of racing game is still popular. Also there has been a strong message from our community over the years for a return to this genre.
A strange coincidence -- less than 24 hours before your reveal, I was tweeting about the fact that there are no Micro Machines-style games anymore. In particular, I mentioned how 16 player races (like the 8 player races in Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament) could be brilliant. Is adding more players something you've looked into? I was surprised you went with a 4-player maximum again.
: Your tweet is an example of the kind of feedback we’ve been getting from our community, and we know there is an audience for this style of racing game. While sofa play was obviously a big priority, we knew it was important to include online for this release.
When considering the design of the multiplayer we had to factor in many points, including track width, car size and variety, power-ups, layout of corners and hazards. So, it was felt during many late nights of team play sessions that 4 player provided the right mix. But, we're always keen to hear what players think when the game goes live and if there is sufficient demand for new features then we will, of course, listen to feedback.
Toybox Turbos will launch on Steam on November 12, and is also coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at a later date.