Cars: Mater-National Championship is the sequel to Cars - The Video Game. It was released two years before Cars: Race-O-Rama. The game takes place in Radiator Springs as players take the role of Lightning McQueen and Mater, as they prepare themselves for the 1st annual Mater-National Championship against many race cars around the world.
The game focuses on the first ever Mater-National Championship held in Radiator Springs by Lightning McQueen and Mater and features an improved world as well as new characters. New characters featured are Emma, a small white and pink rally car from England, Gudmund, a cocky 1980 Audi Quattro rally car from Sweden who has loads of headlights and loves driving through caves at night, Otto, a German tuner car who doesn't understand the concept of speed limits, Koji, a red, grey and white Japanese drift car who loves drifting and Giovanni, a tough-looking but very nice red Ferrari Enzo from Italy. Ornament Valley, Radiator Springs, and Tailfin Pass have all been updated. In Radiator Springs, new rock formations have been cut, and Fillmore has opened a nature park. In Ornament Valley, there is a construction zone, an airport, and several new rock formations to explore. In Tailfin Pass, roads have been completely revamped and there is a new mine and an abandoned western town to drive through. However, some of these are blocked off in exploration mode and can only be raced on; as a result to this, the three areas are smaller than in Cars: The Video Game.
From the film
- Lightning McQueen
- Doc Hudson
- Mia and Tia
- Snot Rod
From the first game
- Tommy Joe
- Count Spatula
- The Crippler
New to the game
"Emma is spunky and cute, with just the right amount of self-deprecating charm. She's England's reigning rally car champion, as popular for her personality as she is for spraying mud all over her competitors. She's come to the Mater-National Festival to compete in the Rustbucket Race Series, and is a little star-struck when she meets its resident champion, Mater."
When Mater first arrives at the Rustbucket Stadium, he finds that his cousins have been spending the last hour watching Emma, whom Mater takes a liking too. When she looks at him, he asks his cousins to jump on him to hide him. After a few races, Mater gets to meet Emma after she bumps into him. Emma compliments Mater for his toughness in the races then wishes him luck for the next race. After the race, Mater compliments Emma by saying no one could beat her in a race, despite having beaten her in the race. He also goes to give Emma a tour of Radiator Springs.
"Given Otto's exquisite German engineering, you might expect him to be a perfectionist. He's certainly focused on racking up the wins, but he's also having a great time doing it. Otto's got a rock star attitude, and he knows what he likes - and he likes to drive fast. He spends a lot of his free time cruising the Autobahn back home, and doesn't understand the concept of speed limits."
Lightning first meets Otto after Sheriff pulls him over for speeding. Otto claims that, since he is a race car, he never drives slow. Lightning decides to challenge Otto to 3 lap race, which Otto claims to be short compared to 24 hour races he competes in back at home, but Lightning insists on keeping the race short. Sheriff decides to join too. After the race, Otto asks for another one, but Lightning suggests he should take a rest to see the town and buy a gift from Lizzie's Curio Shop for his girlfriend, Jenny back at home. Sheriff, witnessing this, feels relieved, thinking that will keep him busy from speeding. Later, when Lightning and Doc first enter the stadium, they find a car "all covered in stickers."
"Gudmund is the reigning rally car champ of Sweden... and a bit of a wild man! He loves to stir things up both on and off the track and takes any challenge head on. With his huge headlights, he's happy kicking up dirt clouds in the middle of the night, even if he's the only one out there. He's got a dry, off-kilter sense of humour, but he's a fair, fun and friendly competitor all the same."
When Lightning first enters Ornament Valley, he notices a scared Mater driving around. Mater explains that he saw some scary lights that made scary noises and thinks it the ghostlight. Sarge decides to do an investigation on the matter. He eventually finds Gudmund race out of a tunnel and scolds him for being reckless, even threatening to court martial him. Lightning, however, was more kind and thinks Gudmund was here for the races, which he was. He challenges Lightning to a race in the tunnels, but Lightning initially turns it down due to not having headlights, but Sarge decides to lend him his night vision goggles, making him able to race after all. After the race, Gudmund tells Lightning a story he was told as a child about a monster called "the haunted hook" and claims his headlights keeps it away. They soon meet up with Mater and Lightning tires to introduce Gudmund to him, but Mater mistakes Gudmund for the ghostlight while Gudmund mistakes Mater for the haunted hook and they each run away from each other, leaving Lightning puzzled.
"Koji comes from the world of downhill Touge racing commonly known as drifting. Much of Koji's success is attributed to his light and maneuverable style of driving. He prides himself on his ability to take turns with wide, screeching, smoking powerslides. Koji treats his sport as a science - he's extremely competent, but he's not so focused that he forgets to have fun."
Koji is first seen racing with Otto, Vince and Sonny when Lightning first enters Tailfin Pass. Later, Lightning is able to meet the race car up close and compliments the way he drifts. However, Koji cannot speak English. Mater soon shows up and claims he can speak Japanese, though he proves to be lying after thinking Koji challenged Lightning to race "blindfolded, driving backwards with four flat tires." Lightning then races Koji, afterwhich, the two talk with each other when Mater comes along, drifting. However, he hits something on the road, flies over Koji and Lightning and lands safely on the road. Koji and Lightning are amazed by his stunt. Lightning asks if he is okay and Mater claims out loud that he is, but then whispers to him, "Call the tow truck."
Giovanni, a tough-looking but very nice smooth red Ferrari Enzo from Italy. He is also a fan of Lightning McQueen, who inspired him to be a racer. Luigi and Guido claim to be his biggest fan. He was the final boss character that Lightning McQueen races in the video game.
Yuri is a Russian Rally car, among others joined the Mater-National Championship. He is first seen in the Road Race: Inside The Turkey and in seen again in the Road Race: Canyon Run. His license plate is YURIKAA. This is a reference to his catchphrase, "Yuri-Kaa". He doesn't appear in any cutscenes and he has no backstory or introduction, very little is known about him and he is one of the only cars seen throughout the entire series who is Russian.
Philip is a car from England who comes to Radiator Springs, but he drives on the wrong side of the road (because in the U.K., they drive on the opposite side of the road) and nearly hits Lightning. Lightning say that he will teach him to drive on the correct side of the road in the U.S., but Philip thinks he is being given a private racing lesson. Before Lightning can explain, Fred shows up, wanting to join in the racing lesson. Doc soon shows up and scolds the cars for blocking the road, but Fred and Philip are both excited to meet him, knowing he is the Fabulous Hudson Hornet. Barry shows up next, thinking a race was going on. Lightning eventually decides to have a race after all.
- One of the mini games in the video game, Ghosting Mater, is based off of the Pixar short, Mater and the Ghostlight.
- This is the only of the three games in which Lightning can appear as an Al opponent in Rustbucket Races in Arcade mode.
- Manji, Tabinu and Cho from Tokyo Mater look similar to Otto, Koji and Emma from the game respectively.
- This is one of the last games to be released on the Game Boy Advance.
- Sally and Red do not appear in this game.
- A printed ad for the game was featured in the instruction booklet for the PSP version of MX vs. ATV Untamed, which was also published by THQ.
- Before the launch, the developers tried to bring back all of the roads from Cars: The Video Game into Mater-National as well as the new roads for the three areas of Carburetor County, but they had some problems while doing so, including the frame rate being close to about 20 or 40. They tried to have the roads unlocked by winning every event and getting all bolt banners in the game, then by cheat codes, but nothing worked.
- Players can drive around the areas as Monster McQueen which is faster than the normal McQueen.
- Mater-National has some border issues that do not connect but are shorter because of the designing issue.
- Sometimes, a character's animations do not match with dialogue, usually Al drivers. There are also occasions when a character's mouth moves when they do not say anything.
- All the charactes' engine noises are different in Relay Races in comparison to that in all other events.
- In Ornament Valley Airport and Team Relay 2, if an Al character enters the RV park, it can sometimes be reset an entire lap ahead of the other cars.
- If a player selects the event icon for Team Relay 3 while going at 99 mph, the game will emit a screeching noise.
- In Inside the Turkey, the computer can sometimes have trouble determining the racers' positions due to confusion caused by there being multiple paths.
- In Rustbucket Race 4, if a car gets off the track, it can become invisible or impenetrable after being reset.
- In Tractor Tipping 6, one of the tractors rests on an elevating platform. The tractor does not move when the platform lowers, making it look like it is levitating.
- Frank might sink into specific areas in the tractor field in any of the Tractor Tipping levels.
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