Game Review | Toybox Turbos
Game summary: Collect & customise 35 vehicles, take on 18 crazy tracks & send your rivals into a spin with awesome power-ups, including mines, machine guns & giant car-mounted hammers! (Steam)
As someone who played and adored the original Micro Machines games way back when - and especially Micro Machines 2 on the Mega Drive, which was genuinely incredible - I was really looking forward to a similar experiences with all the benefits of decades worth of quality of life improvements to the formula. Unfortunately, a whole ton of issues mean that the 1994 game remains the best toy car racer.
Toybox Turbos obviously looks better, especially because it's from a skewed 3D perspective rather than a flat 2D top-down view. The audio quality is higher too, but even then the music is more annoying to listen to than anything else - I put this game on mute so many times because of this. The limited number of music tracks is surprising considering how much pointless stuff has been crammed in.
First off, there's the number of vehicles, many of which only seem to exist to serve as collectables for an achievement. Each set of races has a selection of vehicles to collect, but you can just pick whichever averages out as the best and you're pretty much set. There's little difference in how the majority of the vehicles control unless you go for those at the extremes of the scales - and even then it's only those with a huge gap in speed difference that really stand out.
As for said, controls... ugh. Inconsistent is perhaps the nicest way of putting it, with the little difference between how each vehicle feels to drive being compounded by each one not controlling the same way from lap to lap and sometimes from corner to corner. Each vehicle can under-steer and over-steer, but which problem you get seems to be random whenever you need to turn.
Then there's how impacts are handled, which again seem to vary from incident to incident. Sometimes you'll bounce off objects, sometimes you'll come to an immediate stop and other times will leave your vehicle caught on a piece of the level geometry and often unable to move in any direction and having to restart the race.
Again, there's no way to get a feel for your vehicle or to plan for how to deal with these issues, because it's impossible to predict which one will crop up at a particular point. Learning how to cope and deal with design flaws isn't the same as simply getting better at a game, quickly becoming frustrating because your winning a race is stopped through something you can't even plan a reaction for.
I should also mention hear that the computer-controlled opponents never suffer from any of these issues of course, with you just about always coming off worse in any vehicle-to-vehicle collision. Ram into them at high speed from behind? You'll slow down and their control will barely be affect, if at all. Even smacking into them from the side will still see a struggle on your part to budge them from the line they're taking.
This inconsistency is really what makes Toybox Turbos so frustrating to play, with any time you fail to win feeling far more like the game is to blame instead of you not being good enough and needing to improve. It can be fun in very short bursts, but isn't something I'd ever recommend playing for any length of time unless you have a great deal of patience to handle the randomness.
While I didn't try it out, I imagine the multiplayer could provide some fun though, although that's because everyone will have the same problems to deal rather than because the game improves in any way! For a single-player experience, I simply can't recommend it at all unless you desperately want a modern-day Micro Machines game regardless of quality.
Toybox Turbos could've been great, but the pointlessness of so much of the content ultimately makes it one to avoid unless you want something quick, easy and disposable to play with friends. The number of completely useless vehicles and the inconsistency of the controls, combined with some poor track design and a limited, repetitive soundtrack make this one to avoid.