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Wave Race

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Released: 1992

Genre: Racing

Format reviewed: Game Boy

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

A great little top down racer… on Jet skis. The first of the ‘Wave Race’ series, this has none of the 3-D graphical niceties of the later console sequels, it's a hard knuckled 2-D  racer with a great link mode for up to four players (Additional Cartridges and cables not included!).

In the first game mode you compete against three other opponents around a series of set courses. Finish with enough points from your races and you are promoted to the next level with more power, courses and laps available. There are a few hazards to negotiate during the race – certain areas of the course contain wave patterns that will move your jet ski off line. There are also ‘shallows’ that slow your progress and whirlpools that will spin your craft out of the action.

After a race is over the lap times are shown, with any records being permanently saved with the battery back up. The second mode of racing – slalom – sees your opponents racing you around courses to reach a set number of gates first, points being awarded for gates cleared. This time you are free to move around the course anyway you see fit to achieve maximum success.

The control method is simple to learn, but not so simple to master. It takes practice and a deft touch to successfully corner in the water, too much power at the wrong point in the turn and you’ll find your craft badly drifting out of line. This tricky handling is really a plus point though – frustrating at times, but very satisfying when you manage to master the technique. The turbo boost is an important tool at your disposal, although it must be used sparingly, as the constantly growing turbo bar will quickly decrease when turbo is applied.

With two different game modes to choose from, and the option of multiplayer fun, there is a lot of gameplay available in this title. A nice start to the Wave Race franchise which, while differing greatly from its later console counterparts, contained plenty of ideas that transferred successfully into the 3-D  versions.