Review by so_hai

"Can 'Blue Storm' Improve on the 64-bit Classic?"

Right from the very moment this game boots up, you can sense that an astounding amount of technical detail and effort has been made for this title. As far as launch titles, go, this has got to be one of the most perfected ever released. "'Blue Storm" makes use of all of the usual racing-game conventions, but it attempts to make them shine in its own water-themed manner.

From reading other reviews and player comments, it seems that most people were waiting for Nintendo to release a "Wave Race 64, Chapter 2" style game, but anyone who was waiting for that would of been thoroughly disappointed. "'Blue Storm" attempts to take the series in a different direction. It seems to have moved from a more traditional style racer into the extreme sports subgenre. Unfortunately, this transition was made with some mixed results.

The pinnacle of this game's achievement is in the physical properties of the water surface that has been modelled. It is easily the best ever created, and gives the player accurate and believable feedback - it's really as if you were skimming and diving along the many differently textured and coloured surfaces. They really made a convincing and above all playable environment in which to Jet Ski. Top marks here.

Championship mode (4 difficulties), Time Trial, Multiplayer (two-player), Free roam, Stunt Mode and Tutorial are the game modes available. It's pretty standard in this respect, but where the game innovates is in the Championship mode, as I'll explain. As you can imagine, racing on water would be very different to say, kart-racing. You have a constantly changing and very dynamic surface on which to race, and this is where the developers and level-designers took advantage. For each lap of the race, which there are three, the tidal effects and environmental effects change drastically. What may be an opening or shortcut in lap 1 may be flooded or dried up by lap 2. Similarly, what may be a mere twig poking through the surface may soon be revealed as a giant rotted log. It's a subtle effect, but it makes for an interesting long-term experience.

Your cast of characters are fairly dissimilar, but more than that, they are reasonably believable as people. You don't have SSX style Generation-Y fashion-victims, and neither do you have the generic "Wave Race 64" body-doubles shrouded in motocross helmets. Here, we have a mix from all over the world, each with varying base statistics, and all with customisation options that (gasp!) really do affect game play.

This game is one of the most colourful and beautiful titles out there, and, I'm sure once graphics are no longer a talking point, this title may be remember as an overlooked addition to Nintendo canon. Or maybe I'm getting too poetic. Either way, this game really makes you feel like you're skiing along in the middle of summer, and the constant wash of the ocean against your character and the screen itself (which I must mention is a very clever effect) really does convince me that Jet skiing must be fun. And conversely, the frigid and dull tones of the arctic during a rain storm adds much needed contrast to the game - although you have to admit it looks very strange seeing the female racers in bikinis as they pass icebergs and killer whales.

The controls are the main problem for me in this title. To the game's credit, all the characters feel different, but this causes me confusion, and I'm still yet to figure out whether I am a less-than-average player, or if I haven't found my character yet. Basic control is fairly easy, the simple left-to-right-to-left buoy hunting is normally attainable, but it's not long until someone either barges you or your steering locks up due to the questionable turbo system. This game causes anxiety as you really do feel like you only have one golden moment in which to line yourself up for a buoy, and, if that micro-second passes by, you are potentially heavily penalised, you lose all of your momentum, and you feel like you've done something really, really bad. I've heard of risk and reward balance in games, but this game takes it all to a new all-or-nothing level. Not to mention the CPU racers; these guys are ruthless, brutal, and completely heartless. They will attempt to knock you offline even at their own lap-time expense.

Although the production values are platinum, this game forgot how to make light of wave-racing, and it's not uncommon that you feel that the game is almost playing you, rather than you playing it. The strictest of game play demands are made on you, and it's not unusual that you feel like you're the product of a bad joke - that's how brutal the opposition and track dynamics can be. This game has more than doubled the technical achievements of Wave Race 64, but it has only three-quarters of the fun, at best. Those who wish to cruise around a tropical island, forgetting their worries and enjoying the scenery beware - this game will punish you for even the slightest lapse in concentration.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/23/08

Game Release: Wave Race: Blue Storm (EU, 05/03/02)


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