We get the impression Codemastersâ€™ Micro Maniacs sold poorly upon release. Not only did it never receive a sequel, but itâ€™s rarely mentioned in conversations about top-down racers either. The few who played it though will no doubt testify that it was a decent alternative to Micro Machines.
Almost twenty years later, itâ€™s about to get a spiritual successor – Must Dash Amigos is also an on-foot top-down racer with an assortment of kart-racer style weapons. Just two buttons are used during play â€“ one to discard an item and, well, you can probably guess the other.
The colourful caper is full of Mexican inspiration, almost able to give Guacamelee a run for its money. A portly Lucha wrestler in an ill-fitting costume is the cover star, while weapons include burritos (rockets), mega burritos (homing missiles), salsa (oil slicks), avocado smashing hammers, screen distorting tequila, and a raging bull that propels racers ahead.
Tracks feature random pinata stampedes too, which can be turned off or made less frequent.
Race mode uses the standard Micro Machines set-up â€“ if a player falls behind and vanishes off the screen, theyâ€™re a goner. Tracks â€“ set around farms, jungles, and dockside towns â€“ are generally short, ranging between 30-60 seconds long, but even so, a bull stampede will occur to prevent things dragging.
Must Dash Amigos unquestionably favours party play, supporting four players and also featuring tournament and battle modes. However, thereâ€™s also something for the solo gamer. Time trials involve breaking target scores over three attempts, while the challenge mode has a trio of quick-burst missions.
Double Trouble entails controlling two characters at once, using one analogue stick each. The Danger Dodging stages add a sense of urgency, meanwhile, forcing you to run away from a rampaging bull â€“ collecting every single speed boost and hugging corners is crucial. Then thereâ€™s Master Catcher, which puts you hot on the heels of a mystical pinata.
In terms of presentation, itâ€™s as bright and colourful as the screenshots suggest, and developers miniBeast definitely havenâ€™t shied away from clashing colour schemes. Beating challenges bags â€˜moustache tokensâ€™, used to unlock new outfits, and thereâ€™s also a screen full of statistics to help keep track of the number of races won, as well as other less-useful stats.Â
Launching at a time when kart racers are enjoying a resurgence may sound like a faux pas, but due to its top-down nature Must Dash Amigos offers a different experience to most, primed for local party play. With its two-button control scheme, itâ€™s also a little simpler than the rest of the pack. Itâ€™s within that simplicity lies elegance â€“ itâ€™s clear the developers have aimed to create something simple yet instantly gratifying; something anybody can jump in and play no matter how much tequila is under their belt.