Muppet Race Mania is a PlayStation racing game developed by Traveller's Tales, and published by Midway Games in North America and Sony Computer Entertainment in Europe, and released in 2000. It features a majority of characters from The Muppet Show (and characters from the films).
This game marked the first vocal appearance by Janice since the death of Richard Hunt. She, along with Scooter, were performed by Matt Vogel, the only time he voiced these characters. Rowlf the Dog (voiced by Bill Barretta by this point, but in this game by John Kennedy) and Link Hogthrob (voiced by Steve Whitmire) also make their major vocal debuts after the death of Jim Henson. It also marked one of the last time Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson voiced their Muppet Show characters, as both were either in the process of or about to hand over their characters to other performers.note
One significant difference of this game that sets it apart from the more popular Mascot Racers, like Mario Kart, is the boost mechanic. You collect Food on the racetrack that fill up a meter. You can use this early to give yourself a boost, or fill it up to full to access two options. One is the MegaBoost, which turns your racer into a blue star that sails over the racetrack either to catch up when you're lagging or to create a huge lead. The other is a special power that varies with each Muppet, but achieves the same result: All other racers are hindered by various effects for five seconds…and "nets" you their vehicles for your Muppet to access in future races.
The game has a total of 34 tracks based on sites in the following:
- The Muppet Movie
- The Great Muppet Caper
- The Muppets Take Manhattan
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Muppet Treasure Island
- Muppets from Space
- The Muppet Show
- Fraggle Rock
- Starting: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Rowlf the Dog, Animal
- Unlockables: Janice, Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Zoot, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, The Swedish Chef, Sam the Eagle, Scooter, Pepe the King Prawn, Bobo the Bear, Link Hogthrob, Robin the Frog, Johnny Fiamma, Sal Minella, Bean Bunny, Clifford, Doozer
Other featured characters
- Bill, Gill, and Jill the Frogs
- Jacob and Robert Marley
- Spa'am (credited as "Pig Chief")
- Dr. Phil Van Neuter
- Statler and Waldorf
- Pa Gorg, Ma Gorg and Junior Gorg
Tropes associated with this game include:
- Acid-Trip Dimension: The secret course Disco has a crazy color palette that puts Rainbow Road to shame, complete with a floral pattern.
- Adaptational Villainy: With the exception of Pig Chief and van Neuter, all the bosses in the Battle courses aren't at all bad guys in their source material.
- A.I. Breaker: When battling in the Theater stage, you can utterly bamboozle the computer racers by launching yourself out of the trapdoor onto the ledge at the back of the stage. The AI will try to get up to you by hopping fruitlessly against the wall, while you have unlimited access to stars, allowing you to drop penguins on them, bounce bombs and chickens off the wall at them, and even drive over them so you bounce off of their heads for more damage. The only threat to you is the off-chance of a bomb bouncing up to you or an AI getting up there by accident (and even if they do, they'll fall off almost immediately because they weren't programmed to drive up there). This is the easiest way to deal with Bill, Gil and Jill.
- Always Night: New York and the outdoor Muppet Christmas Carol courses.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Janice's special power makes flowers sprout around the racers, forcing them to turn to face the flowers.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: There are courses strictly for races and courses strictly for Battle. Some race courses allow an unlockable option for a Battle Race. The secret course Disco is a Battle Race by default.
- Canon Foreigner: Flange Doozer is the only playable character to not hail from the Muppet Show/Muppets Tonight/films universe, although Fraggle Rock itself is one of the unlockable courses. Meanwhile, the Fraggles themselves (and Sprocket) don't make so much as a cameo (although the Gorgs do, and Flange can only be unlocked by rescuing other Doozers).
- Car Fu: You get to battle against computer-controlled opponents, collision and dropping on top (instead of simply weapons) is a viable means of inflicting damage, and all combatants have a health bar instead of a number of lives. There is even the unlockable option of battling while racing.
- Cartoon Cheese: Rizzo's special power turns other racers into this.
- Catching Some Z's: Floyd's special attack forces this on his opponents, complete with visible Z's and snoring sounds.
- Comeback Mechanic: After collecting enough Food, aside from each Muppet's special powers, there's also the MegaBoost, which automatically takes you across the course in the form of a blue star (and not take any shortcuts unless you start from there). Beware that your AI opponent has access to this too.
- Comfort Food: Rizzo implies he wants to have some of this when he loses, though he doesn't specify what the food is.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
- The computer-controlled Muppets seem to have whatever stats they need to keep up with you, even if it contradicts the actual builds of their vehicles. You could have Robin (one-star engine power) pass Floyd (five-star engine power) on a straightaway without using a boost, or see Pepe (whose Kart has some of the worst turning in the game) expertly navigating the spiral stairs of the Happiness Hotel without drifting, which is impossible for a human driver. At least there isn't much Rubber-Band A.I..
- One advantage the AI has over human players is how quickly they can use their items. When you drive over a star, you must wait a couple of seconds for the item roulette to choose one for you, and unlike Mario Kart there is no way to speed this up. The computer, on the other hand, can use their items within one frame of touching the star. This is one of the reasons computer racers are much harder to beat in battles than in straight races.
- Deadpan Snarker: Statler (Jerry Nelson) and Waldorf (Dave Goelz) offer their usual acerbic commentary at the beginning of each race or battle (and at the end of a race if you win). An example is in the Muppet Theater course:Waldorf: What do we have to do to see a good show around here?
Statler: Avoid the frog and his friends!
Both: [trademark laugh]
- Dump Stat: There are three stats in this game, seen from left to right when you test drive the muppets: Grip (tire), Turn (steering wheel), and Speed (engine), out of these stats, Turn is easily the least necessary.
- Escort Mission: One of the possible 'missions' you can do in Adventure Mode in each track is pushing Doozers to designated portals. Rescuing them in all the tracks unlocks them as a racer. The difficult part comes from their weight (all of them ride construction vehicles of some kind like their own Dumper, Rowlf's Bulldozer, or Robin's Steamroller) and the locations of some of the portals, the Doozers, or both.
- Floating in a Bubble: Zoot's special move inflicts this on other racers.
- Flying Saucer: Gonzo's vehicle of choice, its stats being all-around average, and capable of cruising above water without being horrendously slowed down.
- Forced Transformation: Some of the Muppets' special powers inflict this on other racers. Examples are Rizzo (cheese), Robin (tiny frog), Sal (bunch of bananas), and Bean Bunny (carrot).
- Gang Up on the Human: Averted. In fact, in battles, if you can find a hiding spot, you can wait for the AI opponents to off each other before taking out the last one left. However, in order to get 100PercentCompletion, you need to actively pitch in.
- Guide Dang It!: When in Adventure Mode, pressing the triangle button will turn the camera toward the location of the nearest token, the movie clip, the Doozer, or the hidden Muppet, depending on what you have left to collect. It will also pinpoint the bosses in battle arenas (and whoever's in first place—or second if you're in first—during races).
- Harmless Electrocution: Beaker's special power, which slows down other racers.
- Harmless Freezing: Link's special power, which freezes opponents solid for five seconds, though it only freezes the muppet and not the vehicle.
- Homing Projectile: Camilla the Chicken, although she can't actually zero in on racers but instead follows invisible "lanes" on the track (and in battle arenas, merely travels in a straight line, bouncing off of walls).
- Incorrect Animal Noise: The penguin bombs bark like seals.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: Courtesy of Pepe's special move.
- Invisibility: Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's special move…which is done on the other racers instead of himself. It also slows them down.
- Joke Character: Dr. Bunsen Honeydew not only has a terrible power (turn other racers invisible, which can screw you over in battles and merely slows them down), his Hovercraft has a very high Turn, which is bad in this game as it's basically very slippery, and its Speed and Grip are trash. On the plus side, if you still want to play as Bunsen, it's simple enough to unlock one of the other characters' more stable vehicles for him to use.
- Level in Reverse: One option you can unlock for the race tracks while in Adventure Mode.
- Level-Map Display
- Mascot Racer
- Palmtree Panic: Cape Doom and Treasure Island.
- Powder Gag: The Swedish Chef's special move inflicts a cloud of flour on his opponents, which makes them spin in place for a few seconds.
- Power Copying: With a full meter, you can use your Muppet's special power, which varies with each Muppet, lasts for five seconds, and collects their vehicles for you to use for your character. Not all of these are equal though in terms of stalling. Most special powers simply stop all the others from moving (e.g., Rizzo, Rowlf); a few (e.g., Miss Piggy, Kermit, Beaker) merely reduce movement; and some (e.g., Doozer, Gonzo, Fozzie, Animal) turn the racers around, so they're occasionally pointing in the wrong direction when the power finishes.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Using weapons on certain set pieces grant access to shortcuts (the fish is the best choice) or grant access to tokens in Adventure Mode. Look for a yellow target symbol.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Robin's special move turns his opponents into ridiculously adorable miniature versions of himself. And then, of course, there's Bean Bunny.
- Shamu Fu: One of the available weapons is a fish you can shoot straight in front of you.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Muppet Christmas Carol courses, with the exception of the Chamber, though there's no ice and a lot of snow.
- The Smurfette Principle: Miss Piggy and Janice are the only female Muppets in the game (though Jil acts as a boss and Ma Gorg makes a cameo).
- Sore Loser: Miss Piggy. She'll protest "there must be some mistake" if she doesn't come in first. Also, a promotional ad for this game and Muppet Monster Adventure features Kermit tied up with a Playstation controller and the copy: "Here's a tip. Let Miss Piggy win."
- Squashed Flat: Miss Piggy's special move. Unlike in the Mario Kart games, though, this only slows down the racers.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: But unless you're using a floating vehicle like Gonzo's Flying Saucer, Link's Spaceship, or Bunsen's Hovercraft, you're gonna get bogged hard if you don't keep jumping like crazy.
- Vehicular Combat: The Battle courses in this game are distinctly different from that of other racing games of its time (and even today, save perhaps for Twisted Metal). You get to battle against computer-controlled opponents, collision and dropping on top (instead of simply weapons) is a viable means of inflicting damage, and all combatants have a health bar (of 1000 HP) instead of a number of lives. Weapons and jumping on other racers do 100 damage, and collision depends on your speed. There is even the unlockable option of battling while racing.
- Wacky Racing: All your favorite Muppets (and a few of your least favorites) go racing in tracks based off their movies!
Statler: No. What?
Waldorf: When you finally reach the end of it.