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Video Game / TrackMania

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TrackMania 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 and United 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 has been released, as well as the fan favorite previous environment, "Stadium". All can be played without the others.

The title that released after is Trackmania Turbo, somewhat of a compilation of the Trackmania 2 game, considered as an arcade-styled spin-off. Turbo is a complete package of Trackmania 2's environments all rebranded and with different looking vehicle models, with a new environment added, named "Lagoon". Turbo fully transitioned into Ubisoft's Uplay platform (now Ubisoft Connect) and has an impressive aesthetic upgrade with lots of attractive style and HUD flair, as well as various changes to accommodate console play of the game and make it feel more accessible.

In 2017, Lagoon got added to Trackmania 2 as a playable title and an upgrade to the client, ManiaPlanet 4 was released, changing the UI and various other graphics element to continute upgrading from what Trackmania Turbo offered, while also adding numerous new blocks and features to previous environments.

In 2020, the seventh title in the series, simply named TrackMania, which serves as a remake of Nations, was released.

This series includes examples of:

  • Acrofatic: The Alpine/Snow and Bay cars are both surprisingly nimble - Alpine/Snow'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 kmh and the Island sportscar can go from 0 to 950 kmh 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.
    • In the 2020 remake, this is more or less played straight, as while the Free Access gives you access to the basic campaign and track editors, you need to buy the Standard or Club Access in order to unlock the advanced track editor, along with other features.
  • Anti-Rage Quitting: If you leave an online match before the round is up, you won't get any ladder points, even if your best time qualified you for them (i.e. if you did better than at least one other driver higher than you in the ladder).
  • 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 "E"-series tracks in Forever, which are unlocked by winning gold medals on every track in its environment. The original game had the "G"-series tracks, and Nations had the Pro tracks.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The gold medal cars in Track Mania DS are noticeably faster than the player's.
  • 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 ManiaPark 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: The series used to use the infamous StarForce DRM system, until they started removing it.
    • Similarly subverted when Nadeo released a press statement announcing that Trackmania 2 would not use Ubisoft's copy protection system.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Example within the game: each of the 7 environments has a car with completely unique handling. Most online servers have a playlist of tracks on all environments in random order. Going from Desert to Stadium or from Snow to Bay will cause you to overshoot the first turn. Going from Coast (100 km/h average speed) to Island (many tracks are pegged at 999 km/h all the way) is worse.
    • Today there exist hex edited tracks that have the cars from one environment in another environment, and even if you get the speed intuitively right, the gravity is different between car types. Cue repeatedly faceplanting the landing ramp of 'easy' jumps with a Snow car in Stadium because it dropped like a brick - before the server switches over to another Stadium track, this time featuring the Coast car and its moon gravity.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Rally, Coast, and Valley 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.
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability: The driver doesn't get injured, no matter how hard the car crashes.
  • Leap of Faith: Very often, especially on user-created online tracks, you will find yourself making blind jumps, wildly hoping that you exited the track at just the right angle and speed to land somewhere flat without tumbling right off the map.
  • Level Editor: As stated above, a highly comprehensive track editor is included in the games. There are 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.note 
  • Marathon Level:
    • Most point-to-point tracks take between 15-60 seconds, and most multi-lap tracks require only three laps and take about 1-2 minutes in total. Then Nations hits you with D-15 Endurance, which has 10 laps and take about 8 minutes to complete. The final track, E-05 Endurance, is a 60-lap monster where the author medal is just over the one-hour mark and the world record is 53 minutes.
    • Player-made tracks are constrained only by how many blocks you can cram into the level map - and if you go digging around in the .exe file, even that won't stop you - so naturally there are a lot of these floating around. It's not uncommon to find point-to-point tracks that are several minutes long, or multi-lap tracks with the approximate length of a Formula One race.
  • 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 TM2note . 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.
      • However, the Stadium environment, the only returning one, is at a cheaper $10 compared to the other two.
    • Also adverted with TrackMania 2020 - every 3 months, a new campaign of 25 maps made by Nadeo will be open for people to race on, regardless of what Access level they have. Only those with Standard or Club access when the campaigns rotate can keep the prior season's maps, though.
  • Nitro Boost: The game has dash pads and zones that give vehicles a speed boost. They come in two colors: Yellow and red. Red gives more powerful boost compared to yellow.
  • Player Creation Sharing: These games come with a robust track editor, with the tracks later being able to be shared online. A large community has since formed that makes and shares tracks, with several websites being dedicated to sharing them.
  • Retraux/You Don't Look Like You: Turbo has a vastly different art style compared to the other games in the series, which is influenced by old-school arcade racers such as Daytona USA.
  • 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.
    • Returned in Trackmania Turbo. In fact, the solo campaign has a handful of tracks that will use the bounce as part of the track.
    • Returns again for the Summer Update for TrackMania 2020, with some of the Royal maps requiring you to bounce on the water.
  • Recycled Title: Interestingly enough, there are two games in the series that are named Trackmania Turbo: one is a United port for the Nintendo DS, and the other is the more recent and much better-known release on PS4 and Xbox One. We'll refer to the latter game in this page for the most part.
    • There are even two games known as TrackMania - the original one, and the 2020 remake of TrackMania Nations, which fans call TrackMania 2020 to tell it apart from the original.
  • 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 OutRun, 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.
  • Shows Damage:
    • As of Trackmania 2, the vehicle models can finally get damaged when they crash into walls or obstacles, but still drive normally as if nothing happened.
    • TrackMania 2020 includes the Fragile block, which makes your car fragile, causing it to shave violently and have both acceleration and top speed reduced if you make a hard impact.
  • Skybox: The sky is shaped like a bubble. You can build outside of it in the Level Editor.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Alpine/Snow, 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.
    • In TrackMania 2020, one of the road types is ice, which, just like Alpine/Snow, gives your car little to no grip at all.
  • 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, including none at all. 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.
    • Royal tracks, which appear in TrackMania 2020, are tracks that have five starts instead of the usual one, no checkpoints at all, and are focused on short platforming challenges, often with rotating or moving obstacles. These maps also changes the game mode to a pseudo-Battle Royale kind of mode, where teams of up to three drivers work together to complete the stages as fast and as many times as possible before time runs out to avoid elimination over up to five rounds.
    • Trackmania Grand League, the competitive esports league, can be a different beast altogether, though the tracks are simply challenging normal tracks built around an "identity" (the end portion that gives the track its name).
  • 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 — they literally just clip through each other. 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. It also 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.