Narrowing years of gaming experiences down to a favourite ten titles is something that has itself taken me years to get comfortable with, but I’m finally doing it.
My number eight spot goes to…
Developer: Nintendo ST
Director: Shigeki Yamashiro
Soundtrack: L. Schwedler
Players: 1-4 simultaneous
I played it on: Gamecube
. . .
Wave Race Blue Storm was one of the games I bought with my Gamecube, way back in 2001.
I’m a massive racing game fan, and I wanted one to play on Gamecube.
Footage I had seen of the game looked incredible, and when my only other option was a port of the Dreamcast game Crazy Taxi, choosing Wave Race seemed like a no brainer.
Having not been a fan of the Nintendo 64 or Gameboy Advance Wave Race games, I never imagined Blue Storm would go on to be one of the most played on my Gamecube, or that I’d still be going back and playing it to this day.
I love racing games, but they’re a dime-a-dozen on every platform.
Dazzling graphics, sophisticated physics, nuanced controls, impressive locations- these are all tried and true ways for a racer to stand out from the pack.
But there’s one thing Wave Race Blue Storm has that a lot of racers don’t- well designed tracks to race on.
That’s what keeps you coming back for more, no matter how much time goes by.
The tracks in Blue Storm all have a realistic look and feel- but only a few of them (Dolphin Park or Aspen Lake for example) could actually be raced on in real life.
Locales like Arctic Bay would see riders freeze to death the moment they touch the icy water, while the tricky La Razza Canal, with its right angle turns and concrete course markers- would simply be too dangerous to race on.
None of this matters though, and the little details that Nintendo added into these stunning backdrops makes them all the more exciting.
In Arctic Bay, chunks of ice will fall from an iceberg and create large, dangerous waves you’ll have to navigate as they hurtle towards you in real time.
In the Ocean City Harbour track, cranes are lifting large crates across the water. Occasionally a cable will snap, causing the massive crates to hit the water below.
The impact changes the wave patterns so realistically, you’ll have to really be watching in order to successfully negotiate them.
These incredible water and wave effects are at the very core of what makes Blue Storm so special.
In Mario Kart, the items provide the variables that lead to almost endless replayability.
In Wave Race, and this version in particular, the variables come from the weather conditions and subsequently the wave patterns.
From calm and sunny, to mild rain, to the rare and dangerous “blue storm”, each race has the ability to transform into something treacherous and unforgiving in the blink of an eye.
(Almost) each track has a beginner, intermediate, and expert layout.
These variants are immaculately designed so as to feel perfect for your skill level on a calm, sunny day.
Throw in some crazy weather, and who knows what you’re in for.
I love this aspect of the game, and it creates the kind of atmosphere that is simply missing from newer racing games.
Of course, Nintendo really know how to create atmosphere.
While the graphics and overall presentation go a long way in Blue Storm, each of the characters (one of whom is Ricky Winterbourne from 101o Snowboarding) gets their own coach who acts as the voiceover guy for the race.
This not only gives each character a unique feel, but prevents you from getting bored and annoyed with the announcer too quickly.
You can also turn them off completely, but you probably won’t need to thanks to this clever little idea.
There’s also a pretty generous tutorial mode, teaching you the basics as well as the more complicated tricks and stunts you can pull in normal races if you dare.
You’ll probably want to save the showing off for the fully fledged stunt mode though.
In normal races you’ll want to be concentrating on actually finishing the race in a decent position, because Nintendo haven’t exactly made winning a championship too easy.
The challenge, the graphics, the spot on controls, the endless replayability and the elusive, rare and terrifying “blue storm”.
All these elements combine to make Wave Race Blue Storm not only one my favourite Gamecube games, but my number eight game of all time.
Thanks to mobygames.com for the box pic.
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