is a series of racing games developed for the PC, Nintendo DS
and the Nintendo Wii
by French developers Nadeo.
The series is mostly based around arcade-style gameplay, with very short, "bite-sized" courses and very fast cars
. The courses themselves are filled with jumps, loops and all sorts of stunt opportunities.
The main single-player campaign is a series of time attacks on many different tracks. Players can reset at any time if they crash (which you will do
), either from checkpoints or from the start of the track. If you complete it, you're given medals based on your time (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Author's time
) and you can compare your times to players all across the world.
Online play places you in a single race where resetting makes you forfeit, makes you race a certain amount of laps in a circular track, or gives you a time limit in which to make as many runs as you want/can
and aim for the best time. There are no collisions between cars; the track itself is your enemy.
But the real star of the show here is probably the Level Editor
provided in game. The editor is strikingly similar to playing with LEGO
bricks — the editor gives you a series of tiles with bits of road, and you can arrange them to your liking. The only real requirements are a start, a finish and a way to get from one to the other. As such, there are tons and tons of user-created tracks, most of them on the community Web site, TMX
The first two titles, TrackMania
and TrackMania Sunrise
, each with three environments to build in, were not particularly successful on the market. The game did not catch on among a wider audience until the free TrackMania Nations
was released, a popular game that spawned a large community and many fansites. It had a single environment with many more freeform tiles, enabling a much larger variety of tracks compared to the older titles. To please fans of the original environments, Trackmania United
was a paid version that also included the environments of the first games. A free "Forever"
upgrade was available that enabled cross-server play between Nations
players. The fifth title in the series, released in September 2011, is naturally
called TrackMania 2
and features a new graphics engine and a single "Canyon" environment with far more track tiles and options than any of the older environments. The "Valley" environment will be released later as DLC.
This series includes examples of:
- Acrofatic: The Alpine and Bay cars are both surprisingly nimble - Alpine's 4x4 is a bit slow but has amazing grip on roads, and the Bay SUV has ridiculous acceleration and very bouncy suspension.
- The SUV can take hairpin turns at 500 km∕h and the sportscar can go from 0 to 950 km∕h in about 1 second given a red booster block.
- Allegedly Free Game: Pretty much averted. Nations gives you the Level Editor, the reason to shell out the money is for the other environments and the ability to make your own cars.
- Averted. Nations Forever has one environment, but it is considered the best and most versatile environment by many players, while the six additional environments in the full game United Forever tend to be highly specific and cater mostly to one style of track. As a result, most of the community plays on Nations Forever servers regardless of which version they have, which may have reduced sales of United Forever. Eventually Nadeo limited the server selection available to Nations Forever players.
- Servers with 100 players on them. As of 2, that's been upgraded to 200.
- Automatic Level: So-called "press forward" and "press back" tracks are these. All you have to do is... press the appropriate direction button. None exist in the game itself, though, so you'll have to make them yourself.
- Bootstrapped Theme: This song for Sunrise. Seemed to stick out the most in related media.
- Brutal Bonus Level: The black flag tracks, which are unlocked by winning gold medals on every track in its environment.
- Camera Screw: Sometimes done intentionally by track builders to show off cool jumps.
- Cool Car: All eight of the default cars in the series could qualify. You can even import your own Cool Car into the game, and you can head to the CarPark if you want to find new ones.
- More recent cars tend to be "cooler" than old ones, and also easier to drive. The cars in the original environments all have some sort of hilarious flaw, like tipping over when you take a corner too fast or tilting backwards and crashing on long jumps. Latter games feature a much more serious driving model, especially after Nations became a popular e-sport.
- Copy Protection: uses the infamous StarForce system.
- Used, mercifully.
- Nadeo released a press statement announcing that Trackmania 2 would not use Ubisoft's copy protection system.
- Green Hill Zone: The Rally and Coast environments. However, these environments are a bit trickier to learn than the others.
- Gravity Barrier: Averted in Canyon. However, anyone trying to reach the end of the map will have to wait, as the map itself is ridiculously big, to the point where you will have to wait a long time before you actually hit the point where the terrain actually ends.
- Level Editor: As stated above, a highly comprehensive track editor is included in the games. There's limits to what and where you can build, but they aren't terribly intrusive. You can make any track in the solo campaign with it, if you really want.
- You can actually circumvent some of these limits, if you know how to manipulate the file the track is stored in.
- And nowadays you don't even need to do that: a modified exe exists that removes any and all editor limits, including the size of the map, letting you build outside the world bubble.
- Mission Pack Sequel: Nadeo is aiming to avert this with TrackMania 2, stating they want to make a "true sequel" rather than an "upgrade". For starters, none of the previous environments will appear in TM2. Then they announced that additional environments will be sold separately.
- The DLC situation is a bit more complicated. For your $20 you get Trackmania 2 and one environment of your choice - at first the only available one is Canyon. When a new environment comes out, you can add it to your copy of Trackmania 2 for $20 again. This means once you have purchased one environment, every new environment you buy is a Mission Pack Sequel.
- Nintendo Hard: The more advanced tracks (especially the user-made content) will have you restart the same race over and over again, because there is often very little margin for error if you want to have enough speed to make that one jump to the finish line.
- This usually involves "transitions", clever combinations of blocks that rely on trick jumps and very narrow margins of error. A lot of fun to build, not so much to drive, because a single mistake means game over.
- Among advanced builders, "flow" is an important property of a track. It basically means no severe braking, no hard landings and an overall smooth driving experience. If you're going at the intended speed, that is. If you lose speed anywhere for any reason you are guaranteed to fail a jump and crash a few seconds later.
- Palmtree Panic: Island.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: If you're going fast enough when you hit water, you bounce off, like skipping a stone. It sounds ridiculous, but the MythBusters once proved that this is possible.
- Averted in Trackmania 2 where you just disappear under the surface with a loud PLUMP sound.
- Rule of Fun: Pretty much the basis of the game. Cars that go unrealistic speeds? Rollercoaster-style loops? Thousand-foot high jumps? It's all here.
- Serial Escalation: Tracks can rapidly escalate to crazy levels.
- Shout Out: The skyscrapers in Island look an awful lot like Nakatomi Plaza.
- The Island environment is pretty much one big shout out to Out Run, down to the bright colours at sunset, the lane markings and the eighties supercar and even the arcade style "START!!!!" flag with period lettering. Even the drifts feel the same.
- The corkscrew obstacle in the Alpine environment is exactly the same as the one found in the '93 spiritual prequel Stunts, despite the existence of the new tube blocks that make said corkscrew obsolete.
- Slippy Slidey Ice World: Alpine, as expected. Perfect grip on the asphalt and wood, no grip at all on the frozen rivers. Interestingly, the Rally environment is also very slippery, although that's more in order to emulate the drifting physics usually seen on IRL rallies.
- Spiritual Successor: Seen by most as the successor to 4D Sports: Driving, better known as Stunts.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The gold medal cars in Track Mania DS are noticeably faster than the player's.
- Unexpected Genre Change: Thanks to user created content.
- There is a small community dedicated to "RPG" tracks, created by using the editor's camera features and the game's mod functionality that enables builders to reskin the textures of a track. RPG tracks are usually story driven and contain precise balancing acts, trick jumps and puzzle solving interspersed with cutscenes. Actually winning the race is secondary, if there is even a race to begin with.
- Trial tracks are similar to RPG tracks but eschew the story and realistic scenery in favour of being even harder than RPG tracks, often gravitating into Platform Hell territory where you have to respawn 10 times to reach the first checkpoint (out of 30).
- "PX" tracks include PF (Press Forward) tracks, PB (Press Backwards) and various other combinations of driving controls. The idea is to press the correct key and keep it down throughout the track, causing the car to flip and jump and twirl through a complicated series of stunts and loops and eventually arriving at the finish line. There is no player interaction, but these tracks represent dozens of hours of build time and look impressive.
- Loltracks are very short "tracks" where the winner is often determined by luck or by mastering one particular aspect of the game's handling model. There is little actual driving involved and loltrack servers are usually aimed at casual players.
- Wacky Racing: In spades - at least, in the tracks. Loops, jumps, and physics-defying roads are the game's bread and butter, but there's zero car interaction. The developers say that the lack of interaction is so that races are determined by skill alone. It allows dozens of cars on the track at once while keeping the race drivable.
- And prevents players from joining a server with 100 players on it, parking their car in front of a looping and going AFK, thereby preventing anyone else from finishing the race.