Gusworld's Muppet Race Mania Guide: Overview
Like virtually every kart racer before it, Muppet Race Mania owes a hefty debt to Mario Kart. Its main innovations are an extremely large cast of Muppet characters, a wider range of settings than is found in most kart racers, and some levels that are more than difficult enough to put lie to the idea that the Muppets are purely a kiddie franchise.
While casual players can simply enjoy running their preferred Muppet through the basic courses, unlocking everything that's available within the game requires many hours of dedicated play. Fortunately, there's a save option (though it isn't automatic and is buried rather confusingly in the Options menu).
How to play
Henson has already written a pretty good explanation of the basic game controls, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here.
Essentially, to completely finish the game, you need to do all of the following on every level (including levels which are only unlocked partway through the game):
Doing this gets you a gold star for that course on the Status menu. Although collecting the fruit and stars on every level can be tedious, you'll need to do so to unlock some courses. As well as all this, you need to win Tournament Leagues A and B with at least 30 points each, and the Battle League with at least 20 points. Accomplishing all this is extremely difficult; I haven't yet managed it myself (though I am a pretty incompetent games player in general). The cheat codes will let you experience most of the levels without all this pain, but won't unlock the Disco level.
- Win the race;
- Win the race or battle against the hidden Muppet (if there is one);
- Find the movie in Adventure mode;
- Collect all the stars in Adventure mode;
- Collect all the fruit in Adventure mode;
- Collect all the tokens in Adventure mode;
- Rescue the Doozer in Adventure mode.
What they don't tell you
Even between the original manual and the on-site explanation, there are lots of elements of the game which you can only learn about through playing. Here's some of the more crucial ones:
WHAT UNLOCKS WHAT?
- On normal races, collecting all the stars unlocks a reverse race on that course, collecting all the tokens unlocks a battle race, and collecting all the food unlocks a battle. Each option can then be accessed from the Secrets menu. These extras can be fun, but don't need to be completed to totally finish a course.
- On battle races, collecting all the stars doesn't unlock anything, collecting all the tokens unlocks a chicken chase race, and collecting all the food unlocks the boss challenge. Completing the boss challenge then lets you battle as that boss (and you need to complete the boss challenge to finish the course).
- On stunt races, collecting all the stars unlocks a reverse race, collecting all the tokens unlocks a chicken chase race, and collecting all the food unlocks a battle.
- Collecting all the stars on all the regular courses unlocks the Studio level.
- Collecting all the food on all the regular courses unlocks the Arches level.
- Rescuing all the Doozers on all the regular courses unlocks the Fraggle Rock level.
- Fully completely all the regular courses unlocks the Disco level.
- Fully completing all levels unlocks the six bonus courses.
- Using a special power move during a race will make the vehicles of all Muppets racing against you available to the Muppet character you're currently playing. (This means that getting all vehicles available for all Muppets requires you to repeatedly race as each character in a race where special power moves are useful -- Central Park is probably the best bet.)
- In Adventure mode, collecting the movie or finding the hidden Muppet automatically ends the level. If you've been collecting fruit, tokens or stars, you may be better off finishing that task and returning for the Muppet/movie another time.
- To get 30 points in the tournaments, you need to score 5 points per race. This generally means you need to win the race (3 points), plus get at least two of the following: best start, most hits, or best lap. There's some hints below on how to achieve this.
- When moving Doozers, use weapons you pick up to get them further faster. You can also force them over long areas or through tricky points by using fruit boost (using R1 when your meter isn't full).
- Fruit boost will also help you recover from a special move attack quicker, and move through water at a normal pace (which is essential on the Dock level).
- Although all special move attacks last for 5 seconds, some are more dangerous than others. Most simply stop you moving; a few (such as Miss Piggy's) allow you to keep moving, but at a reduced pace; and some (such as the Doozer's) actually move you around, so you're generally pointing in the wrong direction when the attack finishes. Not that there's much you can do to avoid them, especially if you don't want to waste fruit.
- Each movie clip gets shown the first time you access a race; to view it again, you'll need to find it in Adventure mode.
- Once you become skilled at the game, penguins are by far the most useful weapon, since you can use them to cause chaos even when you're in first place. If you've got a long lead and you pick up a chicken, you may as well get rid of it and try for something else.
- When collecting fruit, stars and tokens in stunt mode, it's much easier to begin at either the beginning or end of the course. If you get placed somewhere in the middle, abandon the course and try again.
- If you're having trouble steering, pressing Select will switch on Dr Julius T Strangepork's assistance invention. The manual mentions this, but doesn't note that the path you follow is the same one that's used during a MegaBoost. In practice, it's hard to win most races using this invention.
Gusworld's recommended technique
While there are doubtless other ways of doing it, the most reliable way to win most of the races is as follows:
There are some exceptions to this rule, mostly on courses which have unusual shortcuts (Graveyard) or huge amounts of fruit (Central Park). If you're trying to win the tournament, using this technique will sometimes make it almost impossible to get the point for 'most hits' -- but you'll always get the fastest lap points, so if you get the best start points as well you'll still score the 5 points you need in each race to achieve the dream target of 30 points or more. (On some courses, you can easily use this technique and beat the crap out of everyone else at the same time.)
- Make use of all the available shortcuts;
- Concentrate on picking up enough fruit so that your meter is full by the time you hit the third lap;
- Use your MegaBoost about halfway through the final lap, so that you land at the finish line just as it runs out. (In the course guide, I've identified this as the launch point.)
In general, special power attacks aren't worth doing to win races; save them for acquiring the vehicles of other Muppets in races you dedicate to that purpose. The only exception is if you can see someone's a good way ahead of you and you think you can catch up.
In this site's guide to each course, I've included information on how to ensure you collect enough fruit, which shortcuts are worth using, where the right place is to launch your MegaBoost attack in order to sail over the starting line. This technique isn't absolutely guaranteed, but you will win most of the time using it.
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