Needs more grease.
Kids can be so cruel with their unrelenting infatuation with potty humor. But you know, some names are just asking for it. Do you remember the Sega CD game Wild Woody about the misadventures of a number 2 pencil? Or how about the Playstation's Irritating Stick? Perhaps game publishers should put together panels of 5th graders for title pre-screenings just so there won't be anymore of this unfortunate naming.
Speaking of which, Tube Slider? I think we can forgive NEC, the publisher, for the odd title. After all, they've been largely out of the game biz since the Turbo Grafx. On the other hand, the developers of the game, Ndcube, made F-Zero on the GBA. When they came up with this title, maybe there was something lost in the translation.
But the name accurately describes what you are doing throughout the game - sliding through tube style tracks from all angles with a variety of futuristic racers. Reminiscent of the F-Zero games, this is a decent if unspectacular racer.
Much like F-Zero, the racers come in all shapes and sizes, from long and sleek to chubby and squat, and each has different speed and maneuverability ratings. Before each race, you have the option of selecting either Boost or Turbo, both of which work as rechargeable speed blasts used throughout the race. The difference between the two is how they refill. Boost refills by the individual unit with a maximum of three, while Turbo works with one larger Meter that drains when utilized. There are also speed power-ups scattered throughout each track.
The tracks aren't just flat 2D surfaces. Rather, you careen through tubes, sliding up and down the sides while trying to keep your speed up. Unfortunately, the track design is unremarkable.
Tube sliding at first seems simple, but the little things you do during the race make all the difference. Air slides let you to curve into the turns, allowing you to maintain high speeds. If you are trying to catch up to the racer ahead of you, there's a form of downstreaming called a lock-on that will give you a speed boost. There are no weapons of any kind; the game is strictly focused on racing.
And that's the strength of Tube Slider. At times, you can get really focused on the race and the minutiae of maintaining your speed. It drives the game - especially past the early levels - but this quality isn't something so unique and special as to catapult it ahead of any other racer in the field.
There also aren't many ways to play, just a Training mode, a League mode and standard multiplayer.
Visually, Tube Slider features a futuristic polish of shiny metals and neon with views of the environment outside the tube's glass. It looks fine, but doesn't stand out in terms of design or concept. Tube Slider flows by at a rock solid 60 fps, smooth and uninterrupted, but besides the race, there really isn't a sense of life to the world of Tube Sliding.
This "sense of life" is also lacking since there is no character or story to really flesh out the racing. I think the original Wipeout had a good idea with its different company logos, creating a background world without the mistake of poorly designed individual characters. Pod Racer had the entire Star Wars universe to back it up. Tube Slider doesn't have any window dressings; whether through lack of effort or a purposeful decision, there isn't really anything to tie the game together.
Tube Slider chalks up the standard but aurally pleasant (or at least unobtrusive) techno and new age tracks that seem to come packed with games of this ilk. The sound effects aptly convey what I'd imagine "tube sliding" should sound like, with futuristic whirrs and whooshes.
In all, Tube Slider feels more like an appetizer before F-Zero hits the next-generation. It has the right elements of speed and control, but it just sticks too close to the mainstays of the genre to carve out a niche. There needs to be more uniqueness to Tube Slider besides the title.