Wave Race: Blue Storm Review
While not perfect, Wave Race: Blue Storm is the most accurate video game representation of water-based racing ever to be released.
Wave Race 64 burst onto the scene back in 1996 shortly after the launch of the Nintendo 64 and made a big splash with critics due to its stunning graphics, lifelike wave physics, and tight control. Always a company that knows a good thing when it sees it, Nintendo decided that a sequel was in order for the launch of the GameCube and placed the franchise into the hands of one of its North American teams, NST. The result is a game that borrows heavily from the original but provides an eye-watering racing experience that can't be found in any other game.
Like the original, Wave Race: Blue Storm is not for the impatient or those with short attention spans. Just getting around the track in one piece can be a challenge at first. But once you master the control, its intricacies and sensitivity provide a rewarding experience. Navigating each track is a simple process of steering and giving the Jet Ski gas, but if you want to be competitive, you won't be able to simply rely on the skills you built five years ago. The biggest change is the addition of the turbo button. Once enough buoys have been successfully negotiated, you are awarded with a turbo boost that can be used at any time. NST has also included the option to tuck and gain speed, but doing so will decrease the handling abilities of your ski slightly. The number of tricks at your disposal has also been greatly improved. In addition to the barrel rolls, flips, and dives found in the original, you can now perform more than a dozen new tricks common to motocross, such as the can-can, superman, and tabletop. Performing tricks is no longer a hindrance to winning a race because doing so will increase your top speed. The GameCube controller's analog shoulder buttons are put to perfect use as they allow you to feather sharp turns without losing any speed. It appears as if the physics of the original game have returned--the watercraft react to every rip curl and wave undulation with startling realism. If you catch waves properly, you can actually surf them and gain speed. Veterans of the original Wave Race will be able to jump right in and compete in Blue Storm, but newcomers to the franchise will have to endure a learning curve before coming to grips with its challenging yet elegant controls.
There are a variety of gameplay modes in Wave Race: Blue Storm to keep players drenched well into the holidays. The championship mode is the heart and soul of the game. Here, you must square off against seven computer-controlled riders in each race--nearly double the number of rivals in the original--on a quest to accumulate the most points. As you complete each series, a new series of races is unlocked, complete with a new course. Strategy factors heavily into the championship mode because you are allowed to pick the order of the courses based upon a weather forecast. If you're having trouble with a particular track, just race it on a sunny day to give yourself the best chance for success. Like most racing games, Blue Storm also includes a time attack mode in which you can attempt to improve your course times without other riders interfering. There's even a remote-controlled helicopter that acts as a ghost to help push you to improve your times. The surprisingly addictive stunt mode asks you to navigate a series of rings and checkpoints while pulling off as many tricks as possible in between. The multiplayer mode is quite extensive and now lets up to four human players race at once. You may race on any of the tracks that have been unlocked in the championship mode and choose from one of six different weather settings once they've been unlocked as well. You can also participate in the stunt mode with up to four players at once, which can incite quite a bit of trash talking and outrageous collisions. While not nearly as involving as games like Gran Turismo 3, Wave Race: Blue Storm has plenty of meat on its bones. The championship mode can be finished in a few days of hard playing, but the racing is addictive enough to warrant replaying the tracks, and the multiplayer mode guarantees long-term appeal.