Review: Wave Race: Blue Storm (~12 hours)

It was in a preview in either Electronic Gaming Monthly or Nintendo Power that someone said the water in Wave Race: Blue Storm is “more realistic than that which comes out of your bathtub.”  I always liked that. Wave Race: Blue Storm is definitely a technical leap above its predecessor, in a series that couldn’t have come up from more obscurity, but too high a difficulty and a lack of personality make this title one you can skip.

Nintendo put their trust in an American studio to make Blue Storm, which they did not often do, though they later picked Texas-based Retro Studios to create Metroid Prime for GameCube.  The studio behind Wave Race: Blue Storm is Nintendo Software Technology, founded in 1998, and still exists to this day.  Shigeru Miyamoto still took on a producer role, perhaps to ensure Nintendo of Japan got the quality they wanted.

Gone is the Kawasaki Jet Ski license.  The generic name for a Jet Ski is “personal watercraft,” so I suppose this is a personal watercraft game.  There are a number of advertisements, including McDonald’s, Slim Jim, and Bell Helmets. Of course, in-game advertisements were popular in 2001 when the game was released.  In-game advertisements sort of came to a head with the developers of Burnout Paradise promising they could change billboard ads over an internet connection. The studio included political advertising late in the game’s life.

The courses in Wave Race: Blue Storm are actually less enjoyable and less remarkable than in Wave Race 64.  There is still a course with fog, “Aspen Lake,” but the fog is less impressive (and less dense) than in Wave Race 64 on the course “Drake Lake.”  There is another cold weather course called “Arctic Bay.”  Two courses make a return from Wave Race 64, “Dolphin Park” and “Southern Island,” which I found disappointing, because I’d prefer more original courses.

The water is perhaps the biggest letdown.  Yes, on a technical level, it’s more impressive than the previous game’s water, but it’s not as realistic as promised.  Sometimes the water is very reflective, reflecting the environment around you. Sometimes you can see through the water, and spot aquatic wildlife.  There are still waves, but they’re a lesser part of the strategy in the game.

The biggest offense is how far to the left the left buoys are, and how far to the right the right buoys are.  Some courses have you zigzagging to avoid missing a buoy. It’s annoying. The game isn’t all bad though. Placing first in an eight person race is rewarding, especially when you can do it more than once in a series of races.  I want to see the Wave Race series go on, despite seventeen years since this game’s release. But I do think this game’s lack of popularity is the reason there isn’t a sequel.

2/5

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