Review by matt91486

"Seek cover boys and girls - the Storm is rolling in"

OPENING STATEMENT
I am writing this review after standing in line for an hour this morning at my local Target store. I am writing this review after getting a meaningless number on a purple sheet of paper, and then having people twenty numbers after me get their precious Game Cube before me. But, most importantly, I am writing this review after getting a ‘jet black’ Game Cube console, rather than one of those awful looking purple systems. Yes, Game Cube launch day is finally here, and I am going to do my best to bring you the beach side festivities. Tomorrow, you will get the festivities from the zoo, with Super Monkey Ball, but today board your windows, so the blue storm does not blow your house away.

GAMEPLAY--8
Wave Race: Blue Storm presents the classic Wave Race gameplay that was present in its predecessors on both the Game Boy and the Nintendo 64. You take your jet ski, and you must navigate it through twisting, turning watery, courses. Here is the catch: you must always get your jet ski in between the slalom like posts. You need to go to the right of a red post, and to the left of a yellow post. (Do not worry - you cannot miss seeing them.) You are allotted five times that you can screw the system and avoid going through the five slaloms, but if you miss a sixth post, the game forces you to retire. In other words, you need to stay ahead of the pack as well as the course, which is a tall order indeed.

To go with your steady diet of racing through courses that look like Lombard Street, Nintendo has given you the pleasure of some fun side modes. Any level that you have raced through in the Competition Mode is available for play in Free Roam Mode, which does just as it says. Ride through any of the levels in whatever way you want for as long as you want. But, the big draw here is Stunt Mode. A good plan is to head to the Tutorial to learn all of the tricks and jumps. This will allow you to snag some really high scores. Even if you are a veteran of Wave Race 64, check out the Tutorial, because quite a few new ones have been included, and the barrel roll has been made a lot more difficult to pull off.

GRAPHICS--9
Wave Race: Blue Storm is the most visually stunning Game Cube launch game, with the possible exception of Star Wars: Rogue Leader. The first thing that you will notice about this Wave Race outing are the spectacular aquatic effects. Water has never looked this real in a video game before, and it will probably take years to match this feat on another console. The Game Cube’s ‘Flipper’ graphics processor allows the console to do a far better job with complex textures, like water, than other consoles can. I expect to see these effects in all of the Nintendo published Game Cube games that have water anywhere within it. The water is sparkling clear, and you can view fish, dolphins, and even coral reefs beneath it. You can see the glint of the sunlight off of its surface. You can see the waves break as they hit the shore. Whitecaps roll your jet ski around. Rain splatters against the screen. These water effects probably make Wave Race: Blue Storm the most atmosphiric of any of the Game Cube launch games.

The other environmental effects in Wave Race: Blue Storm are not too shabby either. The sunlight casts some of the most realistic shadows ever seen in a video game. The plants are lush and vibrant, while the buildings look comparatively dingy. Cloud cover, which varies between the different levels, clearly has an impact on the lighting in a level, and this adds a great deal to your visual pleasure. Meteorologists can now be obsolete with these fantastic weather effects, to add the icing to the cake.

The riders and the jet skis look great as well, but they do look like they could have had a few hundred more polygons added to them. Do not worry about blocky looking characters, though, as you will find none of them here. I was simply saying that some more detail in character’s faces would not have been a bad thing. The biggest problem with the graphics are some of the glitches. Say your rider falls off his jet ski on a ramp. Since that usually happens in the water, the game has been programmed to automatically show the rider swim up next to the jet ski and hop on. This means that the rider is swimming up through a ramp. This glitch occurs anywhere that you crash that is not on water, so it is bound to happen some time when you are playing it. Hopefully Nintendo will clean it up for a sequel. (And hopefully we will not have to wait for their next console to get a sequel for this Game Cube venture into Dolphin Park.

MUSIC--4
SOUND--9

The music in Wave Race: Blue Storm is quite average. Tunes in each level are quite similar, and unless you listen carefully, all of the melodies in the entire game will just seem to run together. If you actually notice a lot of differences, you are probably not concentrating enough on the race, and you are listening too hard. The songs are all instrumental, guitar based, peppy, and bouncy. Those words, in the same sentence, combine to create one of the biggest forerunners to mediocrity.

The sound effects are extremely good. The noises coupled with the waves are almost as perfect as the graphics. Listing to the roars of the engine does a great job conveying the aura of a jet ski, so that the experience is more filling. But, where Wave Race: Blue Storm really shines is in the voice acting. A plethora of different voice talents have been rooted out of their hiding places, and they cover everything from the racers to the announcers to the crew chiefs. Nintendo went all out finding the best voices possible for their characters. It is almost impossible for me to think of a game with better voice acting than this.

CONTROL--6
The control is a bit too touchy-feely in Wave Race: Blue Storm for my tastes. I believe that Nintendo interpreted this to be changing the ratings for the different characters, but unless you have a character that is almost maxed out in their ‘handling’ statistic, turning will be a struggle. The control configuration is quite well thought out, with the exception of barrel rolls. I have tried in the Tutorial for quite a while, and I still have not been able to pull one off. The menus are quite easy to navigate, and you should be in a race within three menus at the most. The more you play, however, the easier you will find Wave Race: Blue Storm to control. So get plenty of practice before heading off to the Championship Mode.

FUN--7
Part of the fun of Wave Race: Blue Storm is diminished by this game simply being a remake of a Nintendo 64 game. But it always helps when the game that it is based off of is one of the best games on its console. All of the courses from the original are present (Southern Island, Dolphin Park, etcetera) and Nintendo thankfully included some new ones as well. Stunt Mode is a great place to just spend some time, especially after you have unlocked some other courses. But, if you can get four controllers together, Wave Race: Blue Storm will stay with your system, as it is a spectacular party game. Nintendo is clearly picking up where they left off with party games, as the Nintendo 64 was the best to date, and launching the Game Cube with games like Madden NFL 2002, Super Monkey Ball, and Wave Race: Blue Storm is an excellent start for this next generation.

CHALLENGE--HIGH
The most striking difference between Wave Race 64 and Wave Race: Blue Storm is how much more difficult this game is when compared to its ancestor. The artificial intelligence has been beefed up significantly, and some of the buoys have been moved to more strategic locales, so it is harder to make it through them all. The new tracks are also much more difficult than the ones from the first game. Mastering all of the jumps and stunts is quite a task as well. Lastly, checkpoints have been made more difficult to pass through, and they are spread out a little bit more. The combination makes Wave Race: Blue Storm hundreds of times more difficult than Wave Race 64, which was far too easy.

REPLAY VALUE--MEDIUM TO HIGH
This is rather difficult to judge for the long run, but going by Nintendo’s track record of sequels, I expect Wave Race: Blue Storm to be in my Game Cube party game arsenal for many years. If a sequel never hits the Game Cube, it will probably remain there as long as the console works. Adding four-player support rather than just two player support is a monumental addition to the series. It is not as difficult as you would think to see your racer in the quarter of the screen, as long as the television set that you are playing your game on is about twenty inches or larger.

PROS
*Graphically, perhaps the most beautiful game to ever appear on a Nintendo console.
*Voice acting is spectacular.
*Finally, four-player support on the waves.

CONS
*Music is quite mediocre.
*Perhaps it is a little bit too difficult.
*Single player game is only useful for unlocking things for multiplayer.

CLOSING STATEMENT
Nintendo has once again created a game in the Wave Race lineage, and for the first time the game has the graphical might to match its gameplay prowess. In a rather sparse launch line-up, Wave Race: Blue Storm is one of the few games that will stand the test of time. You will not be playing NHL Hitz 20-02 in a couple of years that is for sure. Even if you do not adore racing games, get it to look at the pretty water effects.

OVERALL--8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/18/01, Updated 11/18/01


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