Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Nindie Preview: Aqua Moto Racing Utopia


If you’re anything like me the lack of a new Wave Race title since the days of the GameCube is an absolutely painful reality. The feel of the waves and their unpredictable flow absolutely made it one of my favorite racers of all-time. Thankfully it seems that if Nintendo isn’t willing to give us a sequel the folks are Zordix are looking to step onto the scene to deliver wave-riding, stunting, and racing action to the Nintendo Switch.


As the latest iteration in their Aqua Moto Racing series Utopia is showing a certain level of refinement in how it handles the waves and their action. While there were several other jet ski games on the market at the same time as Wave Race the majority of them failed to embrace the challenge, leaving them feeling more like slightly floaty driving games set on a water-covered road with some ramps. Utopia is obviously aiming for the fences and not only brings impressive water effects to the game reminiscent of Wave Race’s, it also in some cases makes them bigger and choppier! This is absolutely at the crux of my excitement for this title coming to the Switch.

The game offers 3 classes of competition with racing on both Runabouts and Jet Skis as well as a Stunt Mode. While, in theory, both racing divisions would mostly be similar I’m pleased to say there’s enough of a difference in their handling and style that both are distinct. The Runabout racing tends to be far more aggressive with people bumping and jockeying for position while the Jet Ski races require quite a bit more careful maneuvering and are more risky for getting physical. Stunting has never been something I’ve been much of a fan of but the number of possible stunts is pretty high, the movement and flow of them feels pretty fluid and consistent, and there are provisions for chaining so it seems to be well supported. There is online play available but at least at the 2 times I’d tried to get connected there didn’t seem to be much going on at the moment, I’m not sure at this point in the game’s life on PC what the windows are where people tend to be ready to go.


While the similarities to Wave Race are numerous, and some of the locations in the game feel familiar, I’d say that as a whole the track layouts in Moto are generally more demanding. Not only are the waves typically bigger but there are often almost slalom-like sections to tracks that will demand you bring your speed down, carefully consider how you’re coming off of waves, and generally forcing you to race more carefully than I remember. This is actually an improvement and helps make the races more tense and engaging. Looking forward to seeing how this will translate on the Switch!

This preview is based off of the current build of the game on the PC platform but the gameplay and presentation should be representative. The current release date for the Switch version is unknown.

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