Review: TNT Racers: Nitro Machine Edition

There have been a fair few racing games which have been released on the Wii over the years, including many rather generic efforts in addition to the odd gem such as the brilliant Motoheroes, following not quite as closely at the time was TNT Racers, which was something of an oddity that quite possibly didn't sell that well owing to Nintendo's ailing Wii Ware service where only a select few games really flourished while the rest floundered. Now moving forward a few years, we have TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition that essentially takes the core mechanics of the original game, makes a whole host of new additions, presumably including the DLC from the first effort, plus a whole lot more.  With this launching on the Wii U eShop it just might be an altogether more appealing prospect for potential racing fans.

Upon loading up the game you are greeted by a myriad of race modes including Career, Custom Race and Tournament mode. Starting with the former mode, this is where you'll learn about most of what this title is all about as it teaches you on the fly with a couple of gentle tutorials to get you in the mood. It's quite easy to get into as the game plays like some sort of cross between Micro Machines spliced with Mario Kart. The control scheme is somewhat similar too, using a combination of either the A or B buttons for acceleration... so just use whichever is more comfortable. Although the vehicles control rather well with the top-down perspective and the ability to use either the control stick or the d-pad, I found it to be a bit of an annoyance that you can't actually just use a Pro Controller; if player one is using the GamePad it is supported, just as Wii Remotes are, but only in multiplayer it seems so beware that you will be 'stuck' with the GamePad for this one. This isn't too bad, but considering that the touch screen is only used for the menus - optionally at that - it's still a slight annoyance if you're used to other control methods.

TNT Racers Nitro Machine EditionOnto the events, of which there are a reasonable amount, at least on the default speed in any case - you start on Normal, unlocking Fast plus Turbo later. All of these give you the chance to race against rivals but it's not actually the main focus, you basically battle to stay on the screen so that you don't get eliminated. Of course, staying at the front of the pack is advisable but you can also use one of the many power-ups to take out your opponent; these include Mines, Oil Slicks, Rockets, Speed Boosts, Shields, Weighted Plungers and much more besides. While they may be largely mechanical, lacking the organic charm of Mushrooms, Turtles Shells etc they still get the job done. In the Shadow Races when you are eliminated you can still race but as a 'ghost', so you can still use power-ups but your ability to score points will be about a quarter of that which it is normally so it's still advised to keep ahead, normally though you can accumulate a decent amount of points by collecting medals with your score also getting boosted by spamming the power-ups.

With around twenty events per race speed you can burn through a fair amount in just a single sitting, especially at the start, but as you progress the challenges do become more difficult so you will be tested at some stage at least. If the Career doesn't feel like much of a trial then I'd suggest taking part in the tournaments as they seem to stretch the skills a bit more. You can even adjust the AI level between Rookie, Pro or Legend, which means that there should be enough of a challenge here even for seasoned racing veterans while still keeping it playable for newcomers. Some of the tasks are quite fun too, including some rather good examples where you need to collect around sixty on-track items within a set time limit. Those were probably the most enjoyable from my perspective, but everyone will have their favourites.

Quite a selection of vehicles will become available to you the further that you progress, typically you can expect to unlock one new ride per significant trial that you pass so usually every other race. While I'm unsure as to the total amount of vehicles, I certainly counted around twenty to be unlocked from the start which isn't bad for this kind of racing game. You can also change the colour of each vehicle, but don't expect there to be a great deal of difference in the detail, not that it matters too much but if this was a full retail release then some extra attention to the paintwork would have been good but this is really all about the gameplay so it pays not to get hung up on such insignificant elements and just enjoy the experience.

TNT Racers Nitro Machine EditionMultiplayer is limited to local only, which is perhaps a bit of a shame being that there has been multiplayer in the previous iteration of this game on other consoles but looking at things from the perspective of the developer this title clearly was developed on a set budget, so if you're looking for online racing then wait for Mario Kart 8, but otherwise if you enjoy the 'simpler' times of four people crowded around one TV screen actually enjoying interacting with each other then you should definitely consider this. Playing alongside others brings out the fun nature of this game, but it's quite surprising how a friendly game can turn one friend or family member against another, still all in good taste of course, but when you get shoved off the course or hit by a rocket it's hard not to get a little 'involved' in the action; like I said it's a good multiplayer title in addition to giving you more than enough to be getting on with in the solo department.

Being that there is a healthy selection of varied track locations including Beach, Ice, Jungle, Mountain and Volcano themes, the visuals are given a chance to shine as there are some nice effects scattered throughout including very Sega-like two-tone chequering of the ground in the Jungle locations alongside some decent fire & ice effects. When you take into account the vehicle animations too, you have a game that at least looks fairly competent for a download-only title. Music is a mixed bag however, as right from the start there is lots of rather jovial up-beat 'lounge' music which is rather short, playing on a loop that can annoy after a while but if you're playing on different tracks then it's not so bad and I can see that the developer must surely have been trying to create a vague Wacky Racers vibe to the proceedings, which is certainly appreciated for the first hour or so at least, but it's not something you will want to race with for long sadly. The sound effects are comedy gold however.

It's certainly a solid effort that has been made to produce a fun racing game that is more about giving the opposition a clout than just crossing the finish line. If you've been a fan of game like Micro Machines in the past, or just enjoy the odd game of something like Mario Kart, then I would say that you will probably get a fair bit of enjoyment out of TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition as it has a reasonable amount to offer for what's not an unquestionable price. Just don't expect it to last you more than a few months. You might come back to it to play the odd multiplayer game after that, or just to better your score on the online leaderboards, but once everything is done you'll most likely hit the road in search of new thrills; definitely good while it lasts though.

N-Europe Final Verdict

A non-serious racer with a serious amount of challenge to it plus a decent multiplayer mode. This might well just tide you over until Mario Kart comes out and will likely keep you coming back for 'just one more go' even after that.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals3
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Enjoyable in short bursts
Fun local multiplayer
Good variety of locations
Plenty of challenges


Music isn't that varied
No online might be a dealbreaker
Pro controller only usable in multiplayer

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