Jet skis seem like an exciting way to travel. They're fast and nimble, allowing them to dart over and under water with a dynamism that other machines just can't replicate.
Its strange, therefore, that it's been so long since there was a racing game that utilised the one-person watercraft. Enter developer Zordix, which is hoping to make a splash on 3DS with Aqua Moto Racing 3D.
When thinking about past jet ski games, there are a few things that always spring to mind. Waves buffeting racers, a range of death-defying tricks, and the ability to control your rider's centre of gravity during jumps, enabling you to nosedive into the water.High and dry
These elements add depth to standard race mechanics, but unfortunately many of them seem to be absent from Aqua Moto Racing 3D.
The first few races do see waves causing some trouble as you try and take corners against the current. But as the speeds ramp up, and the levels grow more complicated, the effects of the water are quickly diminished.
Landing after jumps and throwing the craft into tight corners also lacks the bob and heft that I've come to expect from similar titles.
Luckily, each track's frequent ramps do let you pull off tricks, which in turn charge your boost meter. But executing these tricks is disappointingly simplistic - instead of remembering button sequences you just tap points on the lower screen.
Even so, despite these failings Aqua Moto Racing 3D offers exciting racing due to its tight controls and sense of speed.A shore thing
With a total of six racers on the water, zipping around the large aquatic tracks isn't simply a matter of finding the best racing line. Each race's slalom-like course requires competitors to weave between the numerous buoys. With two misses allowed before disqualification, there are some interesting shortcuts to be found.
This open race format does bring with it problems. Sometimes finding the next buoy in the churning 3D surf that the skis kick up is a challenge - especially when the next target is directly behind you.
To alleviate this problem, a handy arrow pop-ups to show the way to the next target. It's an effective solution, but one that wouldn't be necessary if the courses better communicated their routes.
These navigation issues become particularly troublesome on some later tracks with tight turns. With all six racers piling up to a single funnel point, you'll often find yourself thrown into the water from collisions. Thankfully, riders reset quickly, but multiple bails in quick succession still prove frustrating.Getting wet
Aqua Moto Racing 3D also suffers from a number of technical problems. When in 3D, the spray is frequently blinding, managing to create difficulty where there should be none.
Also, this is the only 3DS game I have played that has kicked me to the system menu due to a crash. This, combined with an erratic auto-save, saw me frequently hurling volleys of abuse at the game as I once again lost my progress.
Aqua Moto Racing 3D is fun, but where it should stride out into the ocean it remains content to paddle in the shallow end, with simplistic mechanics and relatively little to tell you that you're racing on water at all.