Aqua Moto Racing Utopia (Wii U) Review

By Colin Beauchamp 27.04.2018 1

Review for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia on Wii U

Watercraft racing games aren't something you see that often. The WaveRace series is notably praised for pulling off the concept well but, beyond that, the number of watercraft racers is few and far between, so when one does come out it begs the question of how it compares to the other ones out there. Enter Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, a watercraft title bound to cause comparisons to be drawn to Wave Race 64 and its GameCube sequel, Blue Storm. Even without making those comparisons, though, does Aqua Moto Racing Utopia make for an enjoyable experience? After reviewing the PlayStation 4 release, Cubed3 now takes a look at the recent Wii U iteration.

Regardless of how much experience you have with this type of racer, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is easy to get into. The controls and premise are simple enough; weave through buoys, perform stunts, and use turbo energy attained through both of the previously mentioned methods to boost ahead of the other racers. There is a mode that's based entirely around successively pulling off the trickiest stunts possible, but the majority of your time will be spent in the racing modes, as that's where most of the content and tracks lie.

Screenshot for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia on Wii U

Precise and responsive controls are essential for any racing title, and luckily the game delivers on that front. What's unfortunate is how everything else impacts the controls. Seeing as riding the waves is an important element, there are different levels of how the waves move on each course. In many instances this works fine, but there are some where it goes overboard with wave movements, with the waves moving so strongly that you're constantly being flung into the air, to the point where that's half the race; it doesn't help that you have little control in the air when this happens, either.

To be fair, though, that's only on certain tracks. A more frequent occurrence, though, is jarring buoy placements. To avoid being disqualified in any of the races, you must pass by each buoy on the correct side. However, buoys are often placed in a way that jarringly breaks the pace and causes the races to feel much slower, even when utilising the drift button. There are multiple instances where several buoys are placed directly next to each other, causing you to spend a decent amount of time covering the smallest piece of space. It doesn't help that the AI has no qualms about ramming into you whenever possible, causing both of you to miss the buoy. The physics are already questionable at times, and the computer players, combined with the awkward results of colliding with other vehicles, just add to this.

Screenshot for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia on Wii U

Getting that out of the way, though, this is otherwise usually enjoyable. As mentioned before, this isn't the type of racer that comes out much, so it's a breath of fresh air, even if from a gameplay standpoint it isn't that different from many other racers. There are a large number of tracks and vehicles to unlock, and time trial missions, as well. It's a relaxing game overall, and although its mindlessness might be disappointing if you're looking for a more hardcore experience, it does have a nice soothing feel to it at the same time. It's the type of affair where you can just sit back and relax as you go from race to race.

This is good, too, because the other aspects aren't exactly impressive. The graphics, in particular, are worth mentioning, as there are noticeable frame-rate issues (at least in the Wii U version). It runs at an unstable 30fps, which is disappointing to see. The game lacks polish in general, and there are so many examples of this problem. Even the timer in the time trial mode only updates every fourth of a second or so, as an example.

Screenshot for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia on Wii U

Moving onto other modes, the aforementioned stunt contest where you have to get the most points by performing stunts is a welcomed change of pace from the rest of the action. The skill ceiling is way higher here, and it's genuinely difficult compared to the other modes if wanting to get a high ranking. There's only three tournaments (compared to the main racing modes, which have over 10 total) but getting 1st place in all of them will take a while, plus having to pay close attention to stunt timings will end up benefiting your skills in the racing modes, too, if you want to optimise your turbo meter usage. The last mode worth bringing up is the fact that Utopia has a multiplayer option, and it's exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately, there is no option for online races, so if you were expecting to see something like that, prepare to be disappointed.

Getting a high enough rank in any mode will score cash to spend on vehicles, but collecting money pick-ups on each track and performing stunts will reward with this, as well. There are over 40 vehicles to unlock, each with different stats, and while most will likely stick to a much smaller number throughout the course of the game, unlocking all of them makes for a nice challenge. There's also a decent amount of customisation, in general, from vehicle colouring, to your racer as a whole; even if it's not a big deal and only cosmetic, it's a welcomed gesture.

Screenshot for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Despite its overall lack of polish, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is a pleasant enough watercraft racer with a large number of tracks available (even if a lot of content is reused and modified) and decent mechanics. It's a shame that as a whole it's ultimately forgettable and its many small issues pile up, as this could have been something greater. Still, if you're looking for a type of racing game that you rarely see and have already played the Wave Race and its sequel to death, this might be worth checking out.

Developer

Zordix

Publisher

Zordix

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

Comments

Zard (guest) 29.04.2018#1

The Switch version has a LOT of frame-rate issues. I wonder if it has been improved on Wii U...

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