(3DS eShop)

Aqua Moto Racing 3D (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Aqua Moto Racing 3D Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Choppy waters

When Zordix announced that it was bringing a smartphone jet-ski title to the 3DS eShop with Aqua Moto Racing 3D, we suspect that quite a few people immediately let their minds drift to certain iconic Nintendo 64 and GameCube games, and applied those expectations to this download title. That would be unfair, but this release still tries to deliver a fun water racing experience, which it flirts with doing before sinking under technical problems.

In terms of the content and concept on offer, Zordix delivers on the promise of the game's name. You give your generic rider a name and nationality and set about on a quest to reach higher profile tournaments, earn money and upgrade your jet-ski into the equivalent of a water-based Ferrari. It's a nicely balanced difficulty and achievement curve if you're a fairly experienced gamer, especially as you can unlock the next cup in the Championship mode with a top three finish, useful as you move up and face stiffer opposition. There can be some brief grinding as the next cup sees you struggling for third place, but you're constantly accumulating money to upgrade vehicles, which themselves unlock for purchase as you progress through various grades.

The Championship makes up the meat of the game, with unlocked tracks available in a Quick Race option for those with limited time. However, most cups are just three races and can be blasted around in roughly ten minutes, so they're a fun diversion. Each new cup is set within a fairly large area — some little touches attempt to portray different countries — with a few tracks that alternate buoy placings; like those famous old Nintendo jet-ski racers, you have to go around specific sides of each buoy, left for yellow and right for red. Some tracks have a speedy flow to them, as you whizz along with subtle changes of direction, while others insist on tight, difficult turns.

There are some aspects of the course and game design that work rather well in this respect. For one thing, going around a buoy with precision fills up more of a circular boost gauge, which once complete gives a nifty blast of acceleration with a tap of X. This can also be filled by completing gnarly stunts off ramps, which come in easy, medium and hard varieties; though these can be triggered with D-pad directions and a shoulder button, it's pleasing that shortcut buttons are available on the touch screen, and we had the habit of just shifting our thumb across. Also, if you miss three buoys you're disqualified, so balancing stunts, boosts and accurate riding provides some nice challenge.

During its best moments, this is undoubtedly a fun jet-ski racer that may have retro gamers going a bit teary-eyed, but unfortunately there are irksome technical issues that hold the experience back. In some respects this game is a victim of its own ambition, as some reasonably nice visuals — notably the decent wave physics — don't seem particularly well optimised for the 3DS hardware. Playing in 3D immediately strips away some smoothness in movement, which on some courses is still a passable frame rate, yet in others with more environmental detail and choppier waves it can be tough to play properly.

So for various courses playing in 2D is recommended, and even then performance gets less consistent the further that you progress. Often the sound breaks up and stutters between races, just about sorting itself out before the race proper, and when all six racers are hustling and bustling on a processor-intensive course the framerate takes a further dip. This is a title that really makes the system feel like its chugging, gasping for resources to continue; considering some of the graphical quality we've seen on the 3DS, it's a case of poor optimisation. What this title needed was a more refined approach, or greater changes to the graphics engine, as what's been used doesn't quite fit the hardware's capabilities or architecture.

Inconsistent performance can cause some glitchy moments, too, an issue we spotted fairly often in local multiplayer. The option for Download Play is a thoughtful inclusion, and in those better moments — which are undeniably there — there is a lot of fun to be had with friends in the same room.

And that's what this feels like; a game that has a good foundation, moments of pure enjoyment, but then creaks and crumbles and serves up an unintuitive course with a juddering framerate. Some course designs can be hard to follow with wave splashes and slowdown making life difficult, compounding disappointment. It's an odd experience in that sense, as you'll have great pleasure in some moments, before feeling a little let-down minutes later.

Conclusion

Aqua Moto Racing 3D has good intentions, and in its better moments will bring waves of nostalgia and earn some affection in its own right, with fun racing and a kicking soundtrack to match. And then it judders and creaks, course designs confuse, and the fluidity that so benefits a game like this is lost in a sea of poor optimisation. A 3DS is very different from a smartphone, and it feels like those differences proved too difficult for the developer to deliver an experience that's refined and enjoyable from top to bottom. As a result this feels like a glass half empty, which is a pity.

More Stories

Game Trailer

User Comments (31)

Chris720

#1

Chris720 said:

I had a feeling this was going to be terrible. I'm glad I waited it out for the review.

RetrogamerFan

#4

RetrogamerFan said:

Good review.
Shame about the technical difficulties, looks like this could've been good fun. Since Nintendo don't seem to be in a hurry to make another Wave Race game, i was interested in how this game would turn out. Makes me want to play a bit of WR64 or WR:Blue Storm again.

Kirk

#8

Kirk said:

Unfortunately I kinda saw this coming having watched some footage of the game on YouTube.

It basically looked like a less polished version of Wave Race.

The difference between a merely decent game and a great game...

Polish (in every area, be it controls, gameplay, presentation, graphics, UI or whatever).

Undead_terror

#9

Undead_terror said:

And I guess they would be too lazy to release a update to fix the problems, why couldn't they be like good o'l Nintendo when they made wave race.

LunaticPandora

#12

LunaticPandora said:

Why are so many eshop games 5-6/10 or lower? Come on man, i want to buy stuff outside of the usual devs, but with so much junk getting on the eshop it doesn't give me a lot of incentive.....

ANGRYBALDMAN666

#13

ANGRYBALDMAN666 said:

Well I have this game and do not feel its as bad as the review say I do not play with the 3D on so the removes 1 of the problems I find it enjoyable yes it not great and no where as good as WaveRace but it a lot cheaper and maybe a bit more time would have helped but I would give it a 7/10

Windy

#14

Windy said:

I'm kinda glad we've been getting hammered with great games. I have so much to play it doesn't hurt me to skip this one

magicsnake

#15

magicsnake said:

What do you mean by "glitchy moments" ?
oh and is download play multiplayer complete or is it only a sample of what you can do with 2 or more games ?

ZordixAB

#16

ZordixAB said:

@magicsnake Wanted to answer you about the Download Play and Local Play question.
Download Play is playable with 6 people, only one need to have bought the game. It is playable in the Tropics environment. All vehicles are playable (well, almost alll).

If all parties to the game has a bought the game and no one needs to do Download Play all Environments are playable in Local Play.

I also hope most people do like me and check several reviews before making a decision. We believe, and hope, there might be more views out there with differing opinions.

EDIT: put back some words that had gone missing.

Imerion

#17

Imerion said:

Just bought this, even though the score here was a bit low. Used to play games from the Saturn/Playstation era, so I don't usually have problems with some slowdown. No new game ever gets even close to how choppy some of those old games were. :) And if it is a problem, playing with 3D off seems to help. Still, an update with some optimizations to help these problems would be nice.
That, or that Wii U-version mentioned a few days ago. That would be too good to be true! ;)

ZordixAB

#18

ZordixAB said:

As one who got my first game console in 1977, I know what you are talking about :)

WiiU?...well..all about the money! Anyone got some to invest in a game..we are open to suggestions ;).

bofis

#19

bofis said:

Nintendo should port Wave Race 64 to 3DS and blow this outta the water ;-)

Pachterkid

#20

Pachterkid said:

I love that this site reviews eShop games. It's so hard to find an informed opinion on these titles - I always wait for the review to show up on this site before I decide to spend my money. Thanks Nintendo Life :)

Imerion

#21

Imerion said:

@ZordixAB: If you need money for the project, how about a kickstarter? Could work, seeing as many such projects including Wii U stretch goals and similar have been very well funded. :)

ZordixAB

#22

ZordixAB said:

Kickstarter is a problem. We are from Sweden so we aren't allowed in. We would have to start a shell company in either Britain or the US. Then there are Swedish taxation rules that weren't made for receiving money for nothing. So, its either an investment where we have to give parts of the company away or it is a sales and then we have to pay taxes for the money immediately.

We work with the Hollywood model where smaller investors buys shares in a games development project instead of buying parts in our company. Its a bit easier to get investors for a product instead of a company with no tangible assets.

Imerion

#23

Imerion said:

I see. Very interesting information, though I'm sad it would be so complicated. But hopefully this game will sell well, or you get some investors for another game. :)
Also, thanks for the answers. One thing I really like about this page is that sometimes developers stop by and answer questions. :)

MIDP

#24

MIDP said:

@ANGRYBALDMAN666

I totally agree man. This game should be atleast a 7/10.
I would put it higher even, maybe 8/10. I think its a lot of fun. The download play is GREAT. It supports 6 players who doesnt have the game.
Its really cool how in the season mode you play against people from other countries, small detail, but I love it.
Also the 3D is great! I dont know why hes comlainig about it. Especially when you put on the "Storm Mode" the waves look really cool!
It would have been better with online play for sure, but then again, everything is.
Like I said though, 7/10 atleast.
Pick it up if you have people to play against on download play and liked the old Wave Race 64!

Kouji

#25

Kouji said:

Well I want to download the game Aqua Moto Racing, but it's not available in the USA. Went to the Nintendo Store in NYC Manhattan, they don't know or ever heard of the game. Tried to look in Nintendo sShop for it there. Didn't even have a video, went to Gamestop, asked them about it. Who then looked at me like I asked about something from outter space, till I showed them this review. "Aahhh ohhh, Never heard of it" they replied. Seems it will not be released in the US. Ahh well!

Kouji

#26

Kouji said:

Ohhhh, and for the record, I tought Wikipedia had a reference to everything. I lost faith today, 3rd time I try search for a game, tv show etc in Wikipedia, and they don't have information on it. Wikipedia does not have the answer to everything, especially pics sometimes. I've gone looking for stars etc, only get a name and info. No pics on the actual Star.

Kouji

#28

Kouji said:

Just seems that Zordix was happy happy, and exited about this game, or at least their Rep. was on the interview. And all kinds of critics, and known game producers want to infrenchise them, because they aren't known. Ground developers need a chance I say...

Joygame51

#31

Joygame51 said:

Very interesting... I think. Well I will take a moment to look at the download....

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...