Full Review: Let's get wet!
The game gurus over at Nintendo have tapped into their talent pool once again with the fantastic sequel to the N64's Wave Race. Wave Race: Blue Storm takes the winning formula that was established in 1996 with the original Wave Race and gives it a next-generation makeover that will help to sell a million GameCubes.
The GameCube iteration of Wave Race plays almost identically to its predecessor. The controls are tight and each of the available racers must be handled according to their statistics. This time around there are eight different riders available to choose from and if you can't find the right rider for you there is always the option to customize one. While on the topic of "more is better" we should talk about the tricks you can do. The extremely limited trick base of the original Wave Race has been fleshed out with a wide array of freestyle tricks. While not quite as intuitive as the Tony Hawk series, the trick engine is still navigatable and does provide a good distraction from the ins and outs of racing. Another nice little touch that has been added this time around is a groovy little turbo meter that can be advanced by passing buoys and performing stunts. I sense a little hint of SSX sneaking into this feature.
Visually, Blue Storm is leaps and bounds ahead of its 64-bit brother. Sure, an advancement in this category is to be expected but the crew at NST have really outdone themselves. For starters, this game raises the bar on water effects. At times transparent and at others murky, the water is more realistic than anything I have seen outside of real life. The only drawback to the visual prowess of this game is that some of the levels designed to accommodate four players are decorated sparsely. On the plus side, the four player levels run as smooth as silk with next to no loss of detail.
To help flesh out the gaming experience is a top notch sound palette. The sound effects are crisp and clear and remind me of actually being down at the lake on a hot summer day. There is one drawback to listening to this game though; the voice overs get repetitive. Every buoy that you pass during a race prompts a response from your pit chief and their vocal repertoire is somewhat limited. This gets old rather quickly but fortunately is not too hard to tune out. Really, it is a minor flaw on this beautifully polished title.