"Fans of the old Nintendo classic Wave Race 64 can finally dust off their jet skis and take on the surfs, Wave Race: Blue Storm has arrived"

That’s right Nintendo has launched Wave Race: Blue Storm for the Nintendo Gamecube and it shines like the sunrays on Aspen Lake. The classic returns and is now better than ever with amazing visuals, improved controls, a slew of more stunts, eight all new riders, and even a new turbo feature which lets you excel beyond any speeds those dolphins could shake a flipper at. For any person who missed out on the original, the Wave Race series has similar elements to most other racers but with several factors that complicate the game making it more challenging. One of the most obvious of these factors is the direction buoys. Along the level are left and right buoys that you have to “slalom” through in order to stay in the race. If you miss five buoys, your jet skiing career will be short lived. Not only that but the waves themselves can affect gameplay by launching you uncontrollably through the air. But as you get better you’ll learn how to use these waves to your advantage. The new weather feature is exclusive to Blue Storm and can have you racing through a calm lake one day and the next day have the same lake turn into a treacherous form of nature’s rage. There are five different weather conditions in all and some may unlock special shortcuts otherwise not possible.
Wave Race: Blue Storm has several different ways to test your racing ability. The main game is obvious. You go head-to-head against seven other riders through Wave Race’s courses and try to come out on top. Don’t think its that easy though. There are four different difficulties, Exhibition, Normal, Hard, and Expert. Each difficulty has a different number of courses and several size expansions on the old levels. Plus your opponents are a lot more merciless in Hard or Expert mode. Aside from the Circuit races you have Time Attack mode which lets you race in all unlocked levels with all unlocked weather conditions. You can try and beat your best time and save ghost data here. Stunt Mode is exactly what it sounds; a one-lap ride where you have to pull out some of the most insane stunts to score the highest points. Stunt Mode’s a great addition and a lot of fun to play. If you got some friends over why not compete against each other in either Time Attack or Stunt Mode. For those new to the game try out the Tutorial or play some of the levels in Free Roam mode with no pressure on you to prepare for the real thing. Blue Storm is a very complete game that fans of the original series will love but there are some flaws that make Wave Race not so perfect.

Graphics –
One of the painfully obvious upgrade in visuals is the water itself. It looks extremely realistic and shows off just what the Gamecube can do with lighting, reflections, and water effects. However the scenery is left bland with the occasional boat or deck. Any sprites that you may see including people, polar bears, etc. don’t really keep the realistic feel but it’s just a minor flaw. The characters could’ve been improved a bit but nonetheless Blue Storm is still a feast for the eyes.

Sound –
There isn’t much to say about Wave Race’s music and sound effects. The tunes are catchy but its all a matter of taste. But seriously when you’re struggling to keep in first place against seven bloodthirsty riders (especially that little kid Ricky Winterborn) you don’t really think about music. The sound effects sound great and realistic from the engine roaring to the sound of the waves crashing into the sands of a nearby beach. Everything is clear sounding and easy on the ears. The speech from one of eight coaches is also a great touch with real accents but somewhat repetitive sayings.

Controls –
Nothing really changed in controls when Wave Race was brought to Gamecube. If anything it’s a little tighter so it may take some practice to get the hang of it. The turbo feature is frosting on the cake and can really give you an adrenaline rush when you’re speeding through raging waters knowing one wrong move could smash you into the sharp rocks not so far ahead. All in all it’s the same control system. So as the old and overused saying says, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Gameplay –
Another category that wasn’t really changed at all. The concepts are the same and besides the weather conditions and the newer and bigger levels it really is almost the same game. Not that it’s a bad thing but I really think it could’ve been improved with maybe a few more extras like Create-A-Character, more levels, and some secrets like unlockable cheats.

Replay –
Blue Storm is really straightforward, win circuits, get better, unlock levels, and you’re just about done. Only the really dedicated will stick to this title and for those who are dedicated will find out how fun it is to set records and compete with friends. But if you’re a person with a short attention span, you may drop this game early.

Bottom Line –
A must buy for hardcore fans but if you haven’t played the original, rent Blue Storm before thinking about buying. If you like racing games at all I highly recommend you rent this game. The only reason you wouldn’t like Blue Storm is if you hated the racing genre to begin with. But for those who are fans of the series and have a lot of patience and dedication, Wave Race: Blue Storm is the perfect title to pick up as a late holiday gift.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/13/02, Updated 01/13/02

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