Wake up and smell the saltwater.
All right, you know you've got it rough when it's the middle of November and you're sitting in the middle of your frozen living room bathed in every single sweater that Aunt Edna has knitted you over the past five years. As your digits slowly begin to turn blue, you begin to wonder what is the best way to keep your medulla oblongata from turning into a block of ice.
Hmmm… Baywatch reruns or the latest Britney Spears video, perhaps? Never fear, frozen gamer - Nintendo's got just the thing. Think sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. Think watersports and warm sunshine. Now open your eyes, throw on a couple more layers, and head out into the freezing cold to find a copy of Wave Race: Blue Storm. What were you expecting, a free vacation?
As the successor to the N64's Wave Race 64, Blue Storm brings jet ski racing into the next generation of video games. Once again, you'll cut through the water in speedy sea demons while doing tricks to please the eye. It's a fun, brightly colored arcade racer that turns out to be every bit the solid launch title you'd expect from the Nintendo crew.
Blue Storm is broken up into five basic modes - Tutorial, Time Attack, Free Roam, Stunt Mode, and Championship. Tutorial is a great place to learn the ins and outs of the game. The controls are simple enough, but you'll need to get used to the timing of the tricks. Time Attack is a simple race against the clock, Free Roam is exactly as advertised, and Stunt Mode will have you driving through rings and doing tricks for the most points possible.
Naturally, the Championship is where you'll spend most of your time. You'll start off by choosing from one of eight different customizable racers in preparation for a season of 5, 6, or 7 courses. Each of the racers holds his or her own statistics and specialties, so you'll want to choose one that fits you abilities. When you've finally chosen your racer and fiddled with the few customization options (color, handling, and speed), it's time to race. Do well, and you'll progress through the season, unlocking some extra courses along the way. Fail, and it's game over.
One disappointment here is the lame way that the tricks have been integrated. In order to increase your power meter, you'll need to either correctly pass a buoy or pull off a trick. Since you'll be passing buoys left and right (not doing so will get you eliminated), you never really need to do tricks. In fact, doing so often slows you down. You just don't get rewarded enough for pulling off the cool stuff.
It would have been nice to see a little more depth in the Championship mode, possibly by earning money in the races and putting them toward upgradeable parts. But as it stands, Blue Storm is just a simple and very arcade-like experience.
Still, you'll have a good time cutting through the water with Blue Storm's realistic wave dynamics. Different weather conditions will yield different waves (from tiny to monstrous) and you'll need to adjust your game plan accordingly.
Speaking of which, Blue Storm does a great job with the water. The water effects are some of the best I've seen. On a sunny day at the Southern Island, you'll be able to see all kinds of underwater life, while a stormy day at the Lost Temple will swirl up the mud. Water even splashes on your camera for a better immersive effect.
And to go along with all of this great looking water is a great looking game. In true Nintendo style, Blue Storm is filled with all kinds of bright colors and good looking characters. Nintendo put out a very solid effort in this department.
The eight tracks in the game look good as well, but their design is way too simple. Some levels feature dolphins or killer whales swimming around, but others don't have a whole lot going on. There are a few shortcuts, but they only allow you to cut corners instead of taking you somewhere hidden and interesting.
Although Wave Race: Blue Storm is a little too plain for the more mature gamer, it's about right for the less discerning fan. It's a good looking game with very easy to handle gameplay. Trademark Nintendo all the way.