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TrackMania (series)

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TrackMania is a series of arcade racing games for Windows, Nintendo DS and Wii. It was developed by the French team Nadeo for the PC. Instead of following the usual trend of choosing a set car and track for playing in the game, the TrackMania games allow the player to create their own tracks using a "Block" process in the spirit of the 1985 game Racing Destruction Set and the 1990 Brøderbund release, Stunts.

In contrast with most other racing games, the TrackMania series lets the player race a track as many times as they want, until time runs out. They can choose to respawn at any time possible, due to landing upside down, going off the track or because the start did not go optimally. Although in multiplayer games multiple cars race on the same track, they cannot actually collide or otherwise influence each other.

History

There are currently four basic games in the series. After receiving freely available patch along with extra content a game becomes available with a word added to the title. These newer versions are also offered in stores. A fifth game has been created for the Nintendo DS.[1]

There is also a small, promotional online game using Adobe Flash, called Mini TrackMania.

TrackMania

Tracks

TrackMania includes some pre-made tracks the player can race on to unlock "Coppers", the in-game currency. The player can use these Coppers to buy different building blocks, simply called "Blocks", for his track, including: regular road, checkpoints, long bends, loop-the-loops, and jumps, which all snap to a grid automatically. Regular roads can be dragged to create straight sections as well as 90 degree corners. Most other blocks are automatically connected by placing them next to each other. There are three themes, or environments, to choose from: Rally, Alpine, and Desert. Each environment has a unique car for the player to race in.

Cars

TrackMania has three styles of cars: Rally super minis, Alpine 4x4s, and Speed muscle cars. Each has numerous skins making a total of 87 different cars. By using a built-in or external graphics editor players can create their own skins, or modify the originals to suit their tastes.

Other features

TrackMania features a network option, which lets players compete via LAN or over the internet. Also, the game's website allows players to upload their created tracks or skins for others to download and use on their copy of the game.

The community-driven site TM Exchange contains a large number of tracks for both the original and sequel. Skins and 3D car models are also available from the community, TrackMania Carpark being the most prolific for car models and TM Skincenter for skins ranging from the original TrackMania Sunrise car models to the ones available from the TrackMania Carpark website.

TrackMania Sunrise

The second game in the series, TrackMania Sunrise, features more realistic graphics. It contains three environments: Island, Bay, and Coast, again each with its unique car to fit the environment's characteristics. Island features very fast sports cars which can make very sharp turns on mostly wide roads. Bay features very bouncy cars with less traction, making accidental oversteering more prone to happen. Coast features relatively slow cars on small roads. Due to very little traction, Coast cars can be used for drifting through corners. The game was built on an overhauled engine for better visuals and internet connectivity. The tracks can now include panels with skinnable advertisement panels. The game also features two new gameplay modes:

Platform gives the player a start point, a finish point, and mandatory checkpoints and restart points between; the player's task is to finish the race, restarting as few times as possible. Many of these races have jumps and other features that make it difficult to stay on the track.

Crazy returns to the race course, but this time pits the player against ghosts, each having a faster time than the last. The player must score a faster time than each ghost but at the same time must not exceed an overall time limit.

TrackMania Sunrise has further additions over the original, some of which were later added in the Original edition of the original game. The player can import new car models and customize many more aspects of the game. The game features improved internet connectivity with a peer-to-peer system that allows players to share their car models, skins, and more. The new track editor uses the mouse primarily, as opposed to the keyboard-driven original, and makes special effects like displaying text and changing the camera possible using Media Tracker.

A free expansion pack called eXtreme was later released. The game was also repackaged as TrackMania Sunrise eXtreme. The pack adds multiple pieces to enhance the speed and stuntiness of the game. A new mode, Stunt mode, was added, where the player has to obtain points by doing stunts, such as spinning the car around in mid air and doing flips. After a set amount of time has expired, earned points are quickly drained, so the player should try to finish with the best score, and before time expires.

Mini TrackMania is a simple, online, Macromedia Flash game developed by Inbox Digital to promote TrackMania Sunrise. The game is played with a side on, 2D perspective, and only has one track. The track layout is limited, featuring only jumps and a nitrous boost on both sides of the road, and a backdrop of a few islands in the background. Only two buttons are used to play the game, the Left and Right buttons on the keyboard, which are assigned to Brake and Accelerate respectively.

The object of the game is for the player try score as many points as possible by jumping off a series of ramps without crashing the car on landing or failing to clear the gap. The key to successfully clear the ramps is to keep the car's speed within two points indicated on the car's speedometer. The two points change position and get closer to each other after every jump.

TrackMania Original

TrackMania Original is a new version of the TrackMania that runs on the Sunrise-engine. It features over 10 new blocks, from the PowerUp! and (unreleased) SpeedUp!-patches, and some functionalities from Sunrise, like ad-panels and Media Tracker effects. This version also allows the player to import 3D models for the cars, which can also be skinned. It was released free of charge for owners of TrackMania in the form of a patch/expansion pack, and will also be available to buy as a cheap collector's edition in stores with an extra present.

TrackMania Nations

On January 27, 2006, Nadeo released TrackMania Nations partly as a promotion for the Electronic Sports World Cup, and also for TrackMania itself. This free, stand-alone game has one new environment, Stadium, and many features also in Sunrise, including the advertisement panels, which show ads from sponsors streamed from the internet. The game contains 100 single player tracks, the earlier ones relatively simple in both design and gameplay, but it is largely pitched as an online game. One of the main attractions is the leader board, in which people compete for the best times and points. The top 5 players can be seen on the homepage. Nations has earned an extremely high popularity (there were almost 1 million registered online players within weeks of its launch[citation needed]), in large part due to the wide accessibility of the freeware game

TrackMania United

On June 30, 2006, TrackMania United was announced. The game is basically all TrackMania games built into one game that includes all the environments from the earlier games, and, later, future installments of the series. TrackMania United features a peer-to-peer system so players can more easily share custom content, and a unified ranking system. The engine has been updated to include a pre-lighting accelerated system, which is used in the most recent, Stadium environment. The new system allows for more realistic shadows on high end systems. The Stadium environment has double the amount of blocks featured in the free version, including for instance dirt paths, water, and indoor sections.

On November 9, 2006, Focus announced 10,000 copies of TrackMania United that could be bought and pre-loaded online. These copies were able to be activated from November 16, 2006. The game became available to buy in shops in France, Canada, Australia, Belgium and the French-speaking part of Switzerland later in 2006, and then from February 23, 2007 in all other regions.

The game is available in the UK. It was made available in the US via download for US$49.99 on March 23, 2007 and US$39.99 on April 17, 2007.[2] As of September 7, 2007, the game is available for US$29.95.[3] It was made available for pre-order and pre-load on Steam on June 7, 2007 and was unlocked on June 14, 2007.[4]

Players who previously purchased the original TrackMania or TrackMania: Sunrise can earn a daily copper bonus in TrackMania United by registering their product keys through the game.

Trackmania United Forever is an updated version of Trackmania United. It has seven environments and an all-new mediatracker. It was published by Focus Home Interactive and developed by Nadeo. It has a similar layout to Trackmania Nations Forever. It features four main modes: race, stunt, platform, and puzzle as well as all of the tracks from Trackmania Nations Forever.

TrackMania Forever

On 7 October 2007, Nadeo announced they were working on updated versions of TrackMania United and TrackMania Nations. Both new versions have Forever added to their name, and are network compatible. TrackMania Nations Forever includes the new Stadium blocks and physics system introduced in TMU, allowing players of TMUF and TMNF to play on the same (Stadium) servers.

Nadeo has stated they wanted to give the game a long life, and is therefore working on the engine and user interface, instead of adding new content. TMUF for instance no longer requires the disc in the drive due to different copy protection and anti-cheat systems. They also warn players some features may not have made the final versions.[5]

TrackMania United Forever was released on April 15, 2008,[6] while TrackMania Nations Forever was released the following day.[7] Both titles are available for download, including on the Steam platform.

TrackMania DS

This TrackMania game for the Nintendo DS was in production for several months by Firebrand Games. It was released in Europe on November 14, 2008, and was released in the United States by Atlus on March 17, 2009.

TrackMania DS features gameplay similar to that of the other titles in the TrackMania series and also features a comprehensive track editor, which the TrackMania series has become well known for. It supports single-player and multiplayer play and contains more than 100 tracks and 3 game modes (Race, Platform, Puzzle). From the seven environments in the PC version only three remain in the DS version: Rally, Desert and Stadium. With Trackmania DS you can freely share tracks with other Trackmania DS owners but there is no online connectivity.

Main Article : TrackMania DS

TrackMania Turbo (2010)

TrackMania Turbo is the successor to TrackMania DS. It was to be released for the system on May 21, 2010, but was delayed until September, and on July 19, 2010, the delay was pushed farther back, into December 21, 2010. It will feature the Coast, Island and Snow environments from previous games, as well as 150 new tracks.

TrackMania Turbo for the Nintendo DS expands and adds 3 new exotic environments alongside Stadium: Island, Snow and Coast, for a total of 4 environments, Nearly 150 new races have been specifically created for this new edition, its new environments and its new game modes.

TrackMania DS's track editor is back and allows you to create an infinite number of new tracks. You will be able to share your creations with your friends worldwide with Nintendo Wi-Fi connection.

The Multiplayer mode is back, with again the Hotseat mode that allows many players to play on a single console, the One Card and local Multi-Card modes, but most of all, the awaited online mode using the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. Compete against your friends and join players online from all around the world.

Key Features:

  • 3 solo modes (Race, Platform and Puzzle) and nearly 150 new progressively difficult tracks.
  • 4 environments of which 3 are new on the DS, 4 completely different vehicles to drive and to play; Island, Coast and Snow join Stadium.
  • A 3D track editor and hundreds of available blocks to create your own tracks simply using the stylus.
  • Play in Multiplayer with up to 4 friends using one or many cards, or compete with players from all around the world using Nintendo Wi-Fi.
  • Share your tracks with your friends using Nintendo Wi-Fi.
  • Earn Coppers by winning medals in solo or multiplayers, and unlock new tracks, blocks and skins.
  • Compatible with Nintendo Rumble-Pack.
Main Article : TrackMania Turbo (2010)

TrackMania Wii

On June 30, 2009, TrackMania Wii was announced by jeuxvideo.com in an interview with one of the developers. The game features all the environments from TrackMania United except for Bay, due to the complexity of its scenery. The game was supposed to be released in North America on July 20, 2010. On July 19, 2010, Michael Mota of Dreamcatcher Interactive, TrackMania Wii's publisher, told GoNintendo "We made the announcement to the major retailers about the Trackmania delay, I’m not sure why that hasn’t been changed. The game has been delayed until December 21, 2010."

An updated Wii release date on the Nintendo website for region GB is September 23, 2010 and with publisher Focus Home Interactive.[8]

TrackMania 2

On September 19, 2009, TrackMania 2 was announced in Paris. Reports say there will be 3 new environments and updated graphics, as well as Split-Screen racing and an improved track editor. The release date is set for early 2011.

Florent, the head of the Nadeo developing studio, announced at the Paris gaming convention that there would be three environments: Valley (which can be seen in the two released beta videos of Trackmania 2), Arena, and Canyon. As of now, it is not planned to include any of the previous Trackmania environments into this new game.

Environments

  • Stadium
  • Desert
  • Rally
  • Snow
  • Bay
  • Coast
  • Island
  • Valley
  • Canyon
  • Stadium
  • Storm (Shootmania)

Reception

Aggregated scores
Metacritic

[9]

GameRankings

[10]

TrackMania 74 73.73%
Sunrise 82 82.66%
Nations Forever N/A 87.33%
United Forever 84 80.00%
DS 75 75.41%

Because of the success of the TrackMania series, Guinness World Records awarded the games six world records in Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include "Biggest Online Race", "Most Popular Online Racing Sim" and "Largest Content Base of Any Racing Game", with hundreds of thousands of user created tracks and hundreds of unique cars available for download.[11]

Controversy

The games in the TrackMania series used a controversial copy protection]] system called StarForce, which silently installs a driver with all versions of TrackMania Original, TrackMania Sunrise and the original TrackMania Nations. Many sources falsely reported that TrackMania Nations updated the StarForce drivers only if they were already installed, but the latest version as of 28 May 2007 installed the StarForce drivers on all computers, even though TrackMania Nations is freeware. The original TrackMania United features StarForce restrictions built into the executable to check the software's key, but does not install the driver.

Although it originally included the system, on 29 June 2007, Valve Software announced that the version of TrackMania United distributed via the company's Steam digital distribution platform would no longer include StarForce.[12]

TrackMania United Forever and TrackMania Nations Forever do not include StarForce. If they are applied as upgrades to version of TrackMania United or TrackMania Nations which include StarForce, they attempt to remove it.

Gamer influence

There are many sites that have over the TrackMania series' lifetime become an essential part of TrackMania's game experience. The most well-known is TrackMania eXchange, often referred to as TMX. This website, used as an online method of exchanging and discovering new user-created tracks, quickly became so important a site in TrackMania's gameplay that most of the dedicated server control programs allow server admins and users to add tracks to the server directly from TMX either by typing a chat command in the server or by clicking on a link to view a TMX browser window in the game. TrackMania eXchange provides an exchange method for all versions of TrackMania, excluding TrackMania DS (so far). In Mini TrackMania track creation/sharing is not possible.

Other well-known websites include TrackMania CarPark, or simply "CarPark", which functions in much the same way as TrackMania eXchange. TrackMania CarPark is a website for the exchange and discovery of custom TrackMania car models and skins. Of the new Forever editions in the TM series, only TrackMania United Forever allows users to import their own custom cars, as well as custom avatars. In TrackMania Nations Forever, a different model will play like normal (in terms of replays, and looks) but some cars do not map properly, and the new models will not show up during online play.

Another very well-known website, Mania Creative, formerly known as TrackMania Creative (2008–2010), aka TMC, was launched in January 2008 by the media designer Yuri Chris Taillandier aka TStarGermany. Designed as a tutorial website and community for users who would like to know more about the game, TrackMania Creative offers a wide range of tutorials and services, ranging from very quick and easy subjects such as personalizing your user nickname (often referred to as one's nick), to much deeper and more technical subjects, such as creating your own custom personalized car skin or environmental modifications.

StarTrack Contest

In October 2008, Nadeo revealed the StarTrack Contest, which was a collaborative project between them and the popular fansite TrackMania eXchange. The aim of the contest is to create the first fully community built campaign which will be available as free download for all owners of TrackMania United Forever.

The contest began on 11 October 2008 and lasted for six weeks. At the end of each round contestants were eliminated until there was one overall Star Contest winner. The final round saw MrA, DaKKoN and PapyChampy all build an extreme track for the stadium environment.

PapyChampy won the final making him StarTrack Champion of 2008.

StarTrack remained unreleased until March 2009 when Nadeo used the full StarTrack campaign as the map pool for ManiaTeam, an innovative new racing mode where players race in teams in order to win team medals.

On November 26, 2009 the campaign was released as a free update for all Trackmania United Forever players and the retail version of TrackMania became TrackMania United Forever Star Edition.[13]

See also

References

  1. TrackMania
  2. TrackMania United Forever Star Edition. Retrieved on 2010-06-19.
  3. TrackMania United. GamersGate. Retrieved on 2010-06-19.
  4. Trackmania United Forever Star Edition. Steam. Valve. Retrieved on 2010-06-19.
  5. TRACKMANIA FOREVER. Nadeo (2007-10-07). Retrieved on 2007-12-04.[dead link]
  6. TRACKMANIA UNITED EXPANDS TO BECOME TM UNITED FOREVER. TM-FORUM (2008-04-15). Retrieved on 2010-06-19.
  7. TRACKMANIA NATIONS FOREVER, FREE AND FOR ALL! (INFO/TRAILER). TM-FORUM (2008-04-04). Retrieved on 2010-06-19.
  8. Trackmania - Nintendo - Games..
  9. Search Results. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-04-27.
  10. Browse and Search Games. GameRankings. Retrieved on 2009-04-27.
  11. Guinness World Records (2008-03-11). Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition. pp. 150–151. ISBN 1904994210. 
  12. Twelker, Eric (2007-06-29). Trackmania: United Updated. Valve Corporation. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  13. Download the new solo campaign: StarTrack! (2009-11-26). Retrieved on 2010-06-19. “This week, Nadeo make available to all TrackMania United owners an all new solo campaign, StarTrack.”

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