Tinker Racers is obviously inspired by a little game from a few years back, and yes, I’m obviously talking about Micro Machines. But this isn’t just a cheap knock-off.
If you played games during the mid-to-late 90s, you’ll have come across Micro Machines at some point, or at the very least heard somebody yapping on about it. It was a classic racer that ditched the tarmac for the kitchen table and the beasty engines for matchbox racers. Sadly, the Micro Machines games have been left in the past, but there is a new contender revving its engines at the ketchup stained starting line: Tinker Racers.
Tinker Racers takes a bit of a deviation from Micro Machines’ lap racing by putting the focus on sneaky driving and survival tactics as you throw your little racing car across a variety of tracks slapped together with everyday objects.
To start, it’s easy. The controls are very simple; you go forward, you turn left and right. There is a reverse button but it’s not very useful. If you need to use it, you’re losing a point because you’ll soon be off-screen and respawning with the rest of the pack.
Races aren’t real races as there aren’t any laps, timers, or positions. It’s a points game where the goal is to get five points before the other racers do by staying on screen and keeping your itty-bitty car from getting too damaged. It’s you against the A.I and as the game progresses the amount of A.I controlled cars increases, meaning that you need to outpace several cars to gain one measly point. It can get a bit tense, then, and maintaining a good rhythm for longer does become challenging, especially as the tracks get tricker the further you go into the game.
I have to admit that it was a bit odd at first to not be racing in a traditional way, but I soon came around to the idea of the game’s survival focus. It made for some great tense moments where I was tied 4-4 with the A.I, and the next cock-up would mean starting the stage all over again. That might not sound too bad but some stages can run for around ten minutes if it’s a closely fought battle, so if you value your time, it can be a bit annoying.
Generally, though, the game is good fun and it captures the spirit of Micro Machines very well, thanks in no small part to the game’s design.
The stages are well thought out taking place across several rooms in a typical house. You’ll start off in the bedroom avoiding toys, marbles, and more, before pulling skids across the kitchen stove as popcorn blocks the way and ketchup slows you down. Then there’s the office with office-y stuff and it’s a very messy office. I couldn’t play that stage without thinking about how awful it must be to work in that home office. For a start, the keyboard and mouse aren’t even ergonomic. You’ve got to take care of your posture when sitting at a desk, and I know that all too well as my nerves in my neck, shoulders, and chest are pooped.
Strange observations aside, the levels are really cool and while there aren’t many rooms to race in, they do change around a little with each new stage, forcing you to re-learn what you thought you already know and to adapt to new obstacles, turns, and even blind spots.
As a cheap and cheerful release, Tinker Racers does a lot right and rarely slips into the wrong gear. The music is a little annoying but nothing that can’t be solved by putting The Killers on Spotify. The controls are simple and easy to get to grips with, though there’s a lack of customisation when it comes to cars, which for me isn’t a problem – I just want to play a game and have some fun – but others may miss the opportunity to personalise the simple vehicles.
You may also find the survival gameplay isn’t for you, in which case there are traditional races and even support for local multiplayer races, which is a nice touch but not something I can really put to good use at the moment because, well, RONA.
Costing less than an overpriced coffee, Tinker Racers is a bargain buy and an easy game to recommend.
Tinker Racers PS5, PS4 Review
- Overall - Very Good - 7/107/10
Tinker Racers is a cheap and cheerful throwback to a simpler time. Is it original? Not at all, but it’s fun and for less than a frothy coffee, it’s great value fun.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using: PS5, PS4 Pro