January 28, 2002
Jet Ski Riders - Review
Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating Price
11/1/2002EidosOpus Corp1-2G$99.95
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Water effects are average at times.
One game that I have always admired, mainly due to the beauty of the water, is Waverace on Nintendo 64. During the years following that games release no other title has managed to re-create water effects so well. That was until Atari Splashdown hit the Playstation 2 only a matter of weeks ago. But while Splashdown is a racing game involving Sea-Doo's, Jet Ski Riders features jet ski's, much like Nintendo's classic game.

As the official web site states Jet Ski Riders allows you to experience the thrill of adrenaline fuelled competitive Jet Ski racing as you launch off realistic crashing waves, speed over jump ramps and perform spectacular freestyle tricks. It's not that far off the mark as the racing is usually very close and there is plenty of tricks to perform and short cuts to discover on each course. These courses are set in a variety of locations around the globe including the beaches of Florida, the white water rapids of New Zealand, the canals of Venice among others. The development team, Opus in Japan, have formed a strategic partnership with Kawasaki (Jet Ski watercraft) and Jet Pilot (rider apparel & accessories) to give the game as much authenticity as possible.

Jet Ski Riders includes 6 different modes of play including Freestyle, Arcade, Time Attack, and 2-player split-screen action. The Jet Ski's allow you to catch big air and perform spectacular freestyle tricks like barrel rolls, somersaults, aerial turns, submarine dives, handstands, and more. One of the most positive things about this game is the way in which the tracks build in difficulty. The early tracks are marked out with buoys while the later ones are a lot more complex and require much better craft handling skills.

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Perhaps a little too reflective?
Control of the jet ski's is done via the analogue controller which responds instantly to your commands, unlike the actual craft - but more on that later. Acceleration is via the X button while the R2 button allows you to perform small jumps with the jet ski's. The races take place with 7 other riders on the track and whese guys can be pretty tough. The racing takes place in six locations from aroun the world, each of which has a unique look to suit the real location, different challenges and most importantly for the gameplay, different styles of waves. Whenever you enter a new course you will have to re-adjust your riding style in order to complete the course successfully.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with Jet SKi Riders, each of which is big enough to take away much enjoyment. The biggest of these problems is the actual handling of of the jet ski's which just don't seem to react as sharply as you would expect. The sit-down ski's especially take an eternity to turn if you are travelling at any speed and require you to slow to a crawl. Also disappointing is the length of tracks in the game as well as their design. All the tracks are rather short, many taking under a minute to complete, and none have half as much exploration elements as those in Atari Splashdown.

Sadly, the graphics are one of the biggest disappointments with Jet Ski Riders. The worst aspect is the camera angle which is simply too close to the rider, even on the distant setting. This frequently results in you missing marker buoys because they were off the screen. This could have easily been remedied with a simple arrow system to point out when you are about to pass on the wrong side of one of these buoys. The backgrounds are detailed enough and the rider animation adequate but the water looks plain wrong. In some stages it looks like more a mirror or the liquid metal in Terminator 2, with an almost perfect reflection of the scenery ahead and the Jet Ski's above. It actually gives the game a quite confusing look during the eaces. The water simply doesn't have that natural beauty as seen in other water games, and especially Atari Splashdown and the interaction of the craft with the water is a little too random. Even the splashes and spray from the craft is a little disappointing. Fortunately, the frame rate holds up fairly well with only the occasional stutter.

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Getting some massive air.
Once again Jet Ski Riders falls short of the competition in the sound department. The music was done by a group called Moving Shadow and is a mixture of drum and bass styled tracks which only just manages to suit the game, but falls short in the quality department. None of the tracks really stand out to get you excited and are soon forgotten. This is in complete contrast to Atari Splashdown which has some superb licensed tracks from a variety of bands such as Otis, Smash Mouth and Blink 182. On a brighter note the sound effects in Jet Ski Riders are impressive enough with some speech littered throughout the races.

If this game had hit the shelves only a couple of months ago it could be classed as one of the best water sports games ever. Unfortunately for Eidos Atari Splashdown was released only a couple of weeks ago and boasts better graphics, sound, gameplay, and entertainment. That's not to say that this game is all that bad however, as it still provides a lot of fun, especially in 2-player mode. The computer AI is pretty solid and the game will take some time to beat. My suggestion is to try Atari Splashdown first, and then consider this if your're after more.

GRAPHICSNice background and rider detail let down by questionable water.
SOUNDRather uninspiring music backed up by solid enough effects.
GAMEPLAYJet Ski Riders is pretty tough but never overly exciting.
VALUENot too many tracks to unlock but 2-player mode is enjoyable.
OVERALLA fun game that is overshadowed by the great Atari Splashdown.

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