Review by mikecullerne

"Finally the sequel to the N64 classic arrives, not a moment overdue"

Ever since it’s creation the Wave Race franchise has been one of the most popular sports titles that Nintendo has ever produced. Firstly with success on the Game Boy and then later on the Nintendo 64, fans were literally calling out for more Wave Race with the swelling rumours of Dolphin (the early codename of GameCube). Enter Nintendo Software Technology (NST). They, with a little help from Shigeru Miyamoto and friends, took the Wave Race engine and evolved it into a far superior title. Wave Race 64 was a mere ripple on a lake compared to the giant tsunami that is Wave Race: Blue Storm for Nintendo GameCube.

Every aspect of Wave Race: Blue Storm has been finely tuned from graphics to music to gameplay it is a cut above most racing games on the market and certainly one of the best watercraft games ever made. With more characters, more tracks and more insane stunts to pull off this game is pumped full of action for you to soak yourself in.

The overall presentation of Wave Race: Blue Storm is simple, stylish and is easily one of the coolest looking games around. The gameplay itself is also very classy and since this is the true heart of very game it is obviously very important. Of course like all racing games the point of Wave Race is to get to the finish line as fast as you can and beat the other racers to it. Controls are simple, A-button to accelerate, B-button to brake and the analogue stick is used to turn. This simplicity is important as players picking up the game for the first time have a lot more to worry about than the control system, it feels very natural, well done NST.

In this game however players must navigate around buoys scattered around the track. For each buoy you must be on the correct side as you go past. Pass red buoys on the right side and yellow buoys on the left hand side. If you ‘miss’ more than 5 buoys you are retired from the race. So as well as being able to race fast you must also have the skill to maneuver past each of the buoys – it certainly is challenging for players who have not played Wave Race 64. However passing the buoys on their correct charges your turbo and once it is fully charged players can press the Z-button to take advantage of a nice speed boost. Players can also charge their turbo quicker if they successfully pull of tricks and stunts.

Tricks and stunts have been vastly improved from the Nintendo 64 version with an impressive array of on and off the water flips, twists and stands. These stunts can be pulled off with certain button and analogue stick combinations and each looks amazing with awesome motion capture and smooth animation.

The best feature about Wave Race: Blue Storm is the incredibly detailed wave movement. No two races are ever the same because the waves never form in the same pattern and this multiplies the challenge ten-fold. Some races the waves may only be a few inches high and the course is relatively easy then in other races the waves may be up too 10 foot (2 metres) high surging across the course. Unlike Wave Race 64 where you could safely predict waves after a few tries of each race, Wave Race: Blue Storm’s waves break randomly and your reactions will be put to the test.

Graphically Wave Race: Blue Storm really shows how far games have come since the Nintendo 64 original. Everything has far more detail, water looks real and reflects accurately the racers and scenery above with ease – no frame-rate problems here, not even with a chaotic 4-player race. The weather effects are stunning too with eerie fog, rain and snow effects together. In fact the weather has a direct influence on the racing conditions and as players race the course the conditions can quickly change from a peaceful calm morning into a raging storm.

Sound and music are another area that has improved greatly directly because of the transition from cartridge-based games to the Mini-DVD’s used on GameCube. Engines roar as players hit accelerate from the start-line and surge to the front. The background music brings the game to life and times in with the action nicely and links between the various parts of the game well.

4-player is also a new addition; while the Nintendo 64 was limited to only 2-players in Wave Race 64 the GameCube can easily handle the extra 2 people. The only sacrifice players must make is that their screen will be smaller but there is almost the same level of detail and frame-rate portrayed in multiplayer as there is in single-player. Nintendo GameCube is a powerful machine and those that doubt it are completely misled.

Wave Race: Blue Storm is an awesome launch title and is almost surely a game that most people will eventually get - But why wait? The sooner you buy it the sooner you will begin to experience the awesome gameplay packed onto the tiny Mini-DVD. Everything comes together wonderfully and it is certainly the first party title to have.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/15/02, Updated 10/15/02


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