Bathing makes for a more exciting water sport. - Review By Tren
Surf Rocket Racers is CRI's new jet-ski racing game. While Surf Rocket Racerss certainly doesn't offer anything new to the genre, is that really a bad thing? Nintendo's Waverace64 showed that a good arcade-style jet-ski title doesn't necessarily need to be innovative to be a good entertaining game. Has CRI taken a leaf out of Nintendo's book and given us Dreamcast owners a worthy competitor or is this a game best left on the store shelf? Read on to find out.
Water water anywhere? The graphics are just sad.
The game engine used in Surf Rocket Racers runs at a constant 30 frames-per-second, which isn't stunning but allows for a slowdown-free experience. The game features some impressive locales, with races set across exotic locations such as the Bahamas and Niagara Falls to Manhattan and Rome.
Each location has three tracks, and although some tracks do wind through shared areas of a course (a la Metropolis Street Racer), their individual twists and turns keep them from feeling like rehashes. Not all tracks are available from the offset -- the rest must be unlocked by completing the simple Championship sets (these consist of three races in a row, where the player must finish in the overall top 3 rankings to progress to the next stage).
The difficulty curve here is quite commendable with the tracks getting progressively more difficult as you work through the championship. The game uses the typical character selection basis where each character possesses different strengths and weaknesses. There are good all-round characters, which are best used when you first start the game, and there are also the faster characters which are more difficult to control but have better top speeds as compensation. Each racer has the ability to pull off a number of tricks in the race, which look impressive if a little unnatural at times.
The graphics are varied which each locale having a unique look and design, marked both by differing water colours and wave heights to individual landmarks and backgrounds. The games really shows off its graphics engine here as it never flinches no matter what the scenery may present. For example, the Manhattan bridge which towers above your player during the Manhattan race is always visible despite its size and no matter how far off into the distance it appears. There is absolutely no pop-up or slow down, which is commendable.
He got the name "Spike" because he was a guy with spikey hair in a former life.
Lastly, the two-player mode must be mentioned as it features the same rock solid frame rate of the single player game and still features zero pop-up. The selection of tracks and characters here is limited to what has been unlocked in the one-player championship mode.
Unfortunately, the good points end there.
Slow-down is something that used to mar Dreamcast racers; however, once the second generation racers came along, good compromises were reached. Certain developers went for more detail, and kept the frame rate at a steady 30 FPS (Metropolis Street Racer), whilst other developers went for less detail but a constant 60 FPS (Vanishing Point. Whilst Surf Rocket Racerss has no slow-down, it mostly fails to bring the added detail a lower framerate should bring. Certain sections, as mentioned previously, do look very impressive but on the whole the game's detail leaves a lot to be desired.
As a general rule, subtle graphic set pieces don't work well in arcade racers. Unlike the forthcoming Daytona USA 2001 which, at least in my opinion, features excellent looking graphics and set pieces despite the sometimes average detail level, Surf Rocket Racers just fails to be exciting graphically. There are times where you think it looks "nice" or "good," but it completely fails to stimulate your optical nerve overall. The same can be said for the audio portion of the game, with the sound effects being very average and the repetitive trash music best turned off.
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