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Wave Race: Blue Storm

Update 3/09/01
Hands-On Impressions of the Final Version from the Nintendo Show
by Gearóid Reidy

I came to Wave Race expecting that the ‘BS’ suffix of its title would be perfect to describe it. I came away more in love with the water than ever. Admittedly, the finished version we played added little new to the original – but it’s hard to imagine how a sequel to Wave Race could be any more perfect.

Obviously, as with the original, graphics are the selling point – and a strong selling point they are. The power of GCN is clearly put to good use – eight racers, at last; a four player mode, at last; and waves bigger than anything the N64 could handle. See what we mean when we say it’s hard to imagine a better sequel?

The much-trumpeted weather changes are used to great effect – for example, a simple trip around Aspen Lake started in light drizzle and built up to a stunning storm, culminating in a terrific thunderclap as you cross the line for the final lap. While it looks a lot more realistic than the original, it still has the somewhat cartoony, primary coloured look to it – making it uniquely bright and cheerful in a world of dull super-realism. The five courses we played seemed a tad low; there were at least two more to be unlocked, though, and hopefully a good few more.

As some have already noticed, the controls seem a little loose; though by our third or fourth ten minute session we had gotten to grips with them. Our major gripe with the game is the presence of the irritating announcer, who we hope to God can be turned off. Oddly, one version of the game featured an even more irritating English announcer, whose phrases such as “You go to the right of the red buoys, hello?” got irritating after about, ooooh, .5 of a nanosecond. Who this English toff was and what he doing remains a mystery – perhaps it was just some bloke talking over our shoulder.

Wave Race: Blue Storm is the perfect sequel, but therein lies its major problem. It is a sequel and thus, no matter how good, it will never have the jaw-dropping impact of the original. Though we plainly love this game – a lot more than we thought we would – we can’t help but think that the GCN needs its own Wave Race, that is, a unique racer with the same impact of the original. Blue Storm can’t deliver that, but it’ll be a fun way to while away the time until one comes along.

--Gearóid Reidy

NST knows what it doing, moving 'Zig' for great justice. Although some of the playable demo levels are carbon-copies of their 64-bit counterparts, the beautiful graphic renditions of nature and water effects more than make up for the apparent semi-port-ness. Wave Race: Blue Storm is slated for the Nintendo GameCube launch on November 5th.

Update 18/08/01
Hands-On Impressions of the Latest Build
by GameBoyDojo's Schuyler Lystad

After less than a minute of playing, my jaw was dangling – literally – from the stunning water effects. I couldn’t believe the things Nintendo had gotten the game to do. I resumed someone’s training mode, but I scoffed at the requirements and skied around aimlessly. The wakes, the water splashing on the camera lens, the bouys, it was all just too much. I entered a championship, and took a look at all four tracks. I’m not sure which it was, but (I think it was called something like Ethnic Lake) as I rounded the turn for the finish line on the first lap, it began to rain. Lightly at first, but soon it turned into a friggin' storm! The rain drops would splash on the camera lens, and at the end of the third lap, I couldn’t see the driver because of all the water on the camera.

The backgrounds, the foregrounds, the ground below the water, there’s more eye candy here than on the FMVs you’ll see advertising Square’s latest Final Fantasy game.

This game is a graphical masterpeice.

Once I got the hang of the "loose" controls, the game was a blast. Several play testers at the Toy Test also noted the control being far too "loose" and hopefully Nintendo will fine tune the controls before the game's release. The current controls are designed so that the motion of the waves will affect the movement of the player's jet ski. A negative to this is if a player is on the right side of a steep wave, the gamer will have trouble steering left. Not being able to turn left in a racing game can cause problems. Hopefully Nintendo will listen to their Seattle gamers and make the game more controllable.

Even if the controls aren’t fixed, I’m going to get this game. It’s fun to no end. Bad controls? I’ll get used to them. Let me put it this way, the graphics are beyond anything I’ve seen, and while the controls detract from gameplay, the game is still fun enough to play under them.

While my interest in this game was originally relatively low, Wave Race has now joined my future $600 pile of GameCube purchases. You can’t deny a game like this.

--Schuyler Lystad

E3 Coverage
Hands-On Impressions
by Eric Mattei

Wave Race: Blue Storm demonstrated some unbelievable water effects and physics at the show. The Nintendo rep let me know that there will be 11-12 tracks in the game. Only about three of those will be from the original game. In addition, if you hold the B button and toggle the analog stick you'll be able to pull off dozens of stunts really easily.

One major innovation in the gameplay was the fact that once you made it past a couple of buoys you're boost meter was charged up just like in the original title. However, you'll now be able to activate a turbo boost (ala Mario Kart) manually with the press of a button. This adds a lot more strategy to the game.

Graphically speaking, Blue Storm is incredible. However, there are still some issues that need to be addressed. The most pressing is that the spray from the jet ski looks far to Playstation-like for my taste. The water effects of the environment are so unreal and then there's this white poopoo trail behind your jet ski. It's probably going to be addressed before launch.

Finally, a cool thing that I noted was that the audio takes a page out of F1WGP. You'll hear "headset" speak from a spotter who tells you your position and if you've been passed or not.

A solid looking title that has some great promise. I hope it can rival the original game's brilliance!
--Eric Mattei



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