The latest title to arrive from Nordcurrent, Monochrome Racing, is available now as a downloadable WiiWare title on Wii, and as a Minis title for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (PSP). A pocket money price tag and platform ambiguity means that many gamers have been looking at Monochrome Racing with a great deal of interest, suggesting that the pick-up-and-play nature of the game may be perfect for less experienced players, but in reality it’s a game designed for those who have been playing for many years, with fond memories of the classics of the 16-bit era.
Monochrome Racing offers twelve different vehicles, all of which can be upgraded in terms of weaponry, armour and power-up usage, all of which apply slight cosmetic changes to the vehicle. However, these changes are more evident outside of the game itself, as the actually races play from a fairly distant top-down viewpoint.
Certain to be compared to the hugely popular Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and Mega-Drive editions of Codemasters’ Micro Machines videogame releases, Monochrome Racing plays very similarly to this in terms of both its design and handling. Players race on tracks against three opponents, attempting to either win the race by finishing in first place, or buy removing them from the action. Unlike Codemasters’ more forgiving Micro Machines games, there is no respawning in Monochrome Racing; if you get pushed off the screen, you have lost. However, the actual races are a typically short affair, more like drag races than lap events, as until you begin reaching the very late tracks in the game your AI opponents will rarely put up too much of a challenge in any regard other than speed.
Monochrome Racing is a Minis title, and in that label it bears its true colours. Offering only one solitary gameplay mode – the single-player career – Monochrome Racing is a game design to be enjoyed briefly, in between other more grandiose videogame experiences, and then disposed of. It’s a game for the weekend, and it knows it.
The is most plentiful in its supply of tracks, of which there are eighty-five to unlock, however as the core gameplay experience, the Career mode barely highlights such strengths. Winning the race will unlock new tracks, losing won’t. That’s as far as the mode stretches: there are no leaderboards, point systems or variation in racing rulesets. Monochrome Racing is as simple a presentation as could possible be imagined in the days of Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport and DiRT.
That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable however. The many gamers who loved Micro Machines will surely fall in love all over again, thanks to the ability to play on PlayStation 3 or PSP for a fraction of the price of picking up a SNES or Mega-Drive and original game. As suggested above, Monochrome Racing is a game for the weekend: but that’s a good thing in many respects. It offers a nostalgic feeling for anyone who’s looking for it. It’s not a deep, methodical racing game in which the suspension of your vehicle has as much impact on your final placement as your driving ability; it’s instant, accessible fun.