Aqua Moto Racing 3D test (3DS eShop)

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When Zordix announced that it was bringing a smartphone jet ski title to the 3DS eShop with Aqua Moto Racing 3D, we suspected that many people immediately let their minds drift into some iconic Nintendo 64 and Nintendo games. GameCube, and have applied those expectations to it. download the title. It would be unfair, but this version still tries to deliver a fun water racing experience, which it flirts with before it descends into technical issues.

In terms of content and proposed concept, Zordix keeps the promise of the name of the game. You give a name and a nationality to your generic pilot and you embark on a quest to reach higher level tournaments, earn money. and upgrade your jet ski to the equivalent of a water-based Ferrari. It’s a well-balanced difficulty and achievement curve if you’re a fairly experienced player, especially since you can unlock the next cup in Championship mode with a top-three ranking, useful as you progress and face opposition. stronger. There may be a brief grind as the next cup sees you struggling for third place, but you’re constantly racking up cash to upgrade vehicles, which themselves unlock for purchase as you go. progress in different categories.

Championship is the meat of the game, with unlocked tracks available in a quick race option for those with limited time. However, most cups only have three races and can be completed in about ten minutes, which makes for a fun diversion. Each new cut takes place in a fairly large area – a few small touches attempting to represent different countries – with a few tracks which alternate the locations of the buoys; Like those famous old Nintendo jet ski racers, you have to go around specific sides of each buoy, left for yellow and right for red. Some tracks have a fast flow, as you spin with subtle changes of direction, while others insist on tight, difficult turns.

There are some aspects of the course and the game design that work quite well in this regard. For one thing, circling a buoy with precision further fills a circular boost gauge, which when completed gives nifty acceleration with a tap of X. This can also be filled by performing gnarly stunts off the ramps, which are easy, medium and hard varieties; although these can be triggered with the directions of the D-pad and a shoulder button, it’s nice that the shortcut buttons are available on the touchscreen, and we used to just move our thumbs. Also, if you miss three buoys you are disqualified, so balancing stunts, boosts and precise driving is a good challenge.

During his best times, he’s undoubtedly a fun jet ski racer who can bring tears to the eyes of retro gamers, but unfortunately there are annoying technical issues holding back the experience. In some ways, this game falls victim to its own ambition, as some reasonably pleasing visuals – notably decent wave physics – don’t look particularly well optimized for 3DS hardware. Playing in 3D immediately removes some fluidity of movement, which on some courses is still a passable frame rate, but in others with more environmental detail and choppier waves, it can be difficult to play properly.

So for various courses it is recommended to play in 2D, and even then the performance becomes less consistent as you progress. Often times the sound breaks and stutters between races, just before the actual race, and when all six runners jostle and bustle about a CPU-hungry course, the framerate drops further. It’s a title that really makes the system feel like it’s gasping for air, gasping for air to keep resources going; Considering the graphics quality we saw on the 3DS, this is a case of poor optimization. What this title needed was a more refined approach or bigger changes to the graphics engine, as what was used didn’t quite match the capabilities or architecture of the hardware.

Inconsistent performance can also cause issues, an issue we’ve spotted quite often in local multiplayer. The option for download play is a thoughtful inclusion, and in these best times – which are undeniably there – there’s a lot of fun to be had with friends in the same room.

And that’s what it sounds like; a game that has a good foundation, moments of sheer fun, but then squeaks and crumbles and serves an unintuitive course with jerky framerate. Some course designs can be difficult to follow with splashing waves and slowing down making life difficult and compounding disappointment. It’s a weird experience in that sense, as you’ll have great fun at times, only to feel a little disappointed a few minutes later.

Conclusion

Aqua Moto Racing 3D has good intentions and in its best moments will bring waves of nostalgia and affection in its own right, with fun races and a stunning soundtrack. And then it shakes and cracks, the course designs merge together, and the fluidity that so benefits a game like this gets lost in a sea of ​​poor optimization. A 3DS is very different from a smartphone, and it looks like those differences have proven to be too difficult for the developer to deliver a refined and enjoyable top-to-bottom experience. As a result, it looks like a half-empty glass, which is a shame.

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