Micro Machines V4

Take the pint-sized hotrods out for a drive around the chicken coop

There are a few evergreen, childhood memories that most of us share. Burning G.I Joes with a magnifying glass, taking Barbie and Ken for a cruise right off the edge of the kitchen table ... all fine ways to kill an afternoon. But buried in that same backyard of nostalgia are the miniature cars, trucks and hotrods of Micro Machines, a toy line that has offered some of the simplest pick-up-and-play racing games of all time. This June, they're back with even more.

In true arcade fashion, anyone can whip through the scaled-down courses of Micro Machines V4 in no time. Instead of a racetrack, you're power-sliding around discarded toys, forgotten garden tools and whatever else finds its way to the floor over time. Some of the courses take place on city rooftops, forcing you to avoid wayward Frisbees and bird-cagey disaster. One track even takes you through a farmer's chicken coop, where thefowl can peck away your auto's tiny wheels.

While the premise is easy to grab, the way in which you race is actually unique to the Machines series. Rather than simply heading for the finish line, you and up to three other cars share the same screen and fight to race ahead - whoever reaches the edge of the TV screen wins a point. Then the cars line back upand continue the race until a set number of points are won. The constant stopping and starting can clunk-up the otherwise smooth racing, but once you all know the tracks, true driving prowess keeps things rolling nicely.

We recommend