Review – Aqua Moto Racing Utopia

Don’t you miss games like Wave Race? With the exception of the Riptide series, you just can’t find any other jet-ski game out there in the current generation of gaming. This is one of the reasons I was actually looking forward to Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, the first true jet-ski title to grace consoles since… well, I actually have no idea. Maybe since Wave Race Blue Storm?


Jet-skiing through the bayou

At first glance, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia looks like a great throwback to the golden age of jet-ski games (if there has ever been one): a wide variety of courses, player customization, being able to perform stunts, a decent sensation of speed, a lenghty career mode, four different multiplayer modes and the same “go around the buoys to increase your speed” gameplay from Wave Race 64 and Blue Storm. It’s quite a lot of content for a game with a low pricetag, but that comes at another totally different price: Aqua Moto isn’t a very fun game at the end of the day.

The first big negative you’ll notice is the game’s visuals. With the exception of a few environments and its framerate, this isn’t a looker. The water lacks transparency, looking more like crystalized jelly than the actual liquid that covers 75% of our planet. Textures are very simplistic. Character animations are very poor, and that can easily be noticed whenever you finish a championship and see a bunch of jointless robots pretending to be humans celebrating with their trophies.


The most unnatural waves in gaming history

The other major problem lies in the gameplay. Surely, the jet-skis accelerate like they should, and the stunt system is a lot deeper (and entertaining) than expected, but the game’s physics are just too faulty for anyone not to notice. Remember how easy it was to turn around with your watercraft in Wave Race 64? Well, let’s just say that trying to make a muscle car from the 60’s peform sharp turns at Nürburgring is less of a hassle than trying to make this game’s jet-skis turn around as they should. The water physics are beyond acceptable as well. Waves don’t feel natural at all. You’ll either race in courses completely devoid of any tidal activity (guess the moon was taking a break during that day) or you’ll face masses of water that could easily carry a frigate back to shore. Back in Wave Race 64, waves felt natural and actually fun to swim by. In Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, courses with waves are by far the least enjoyable of the entire game. I apologize if I’m constantly comparing this game to a title release 22 years ago (jeez, I’m getting old), but when a title from 1996 feels more technologically advanced than a game from 2018, you know something isn’t right.


Beep beep borp

Aqua Moto Racing Utopia does offer more than enough content given its low pricetag, but it’s not a very entertaining jet-ski game at the end of the day. Its level design is bland at best, its physics are far from ideal and its graphics are more than one generation behind of the barely acceptable. If you’re looking for a Wave Race substitute, Aqua Moto isn’t going to be the one that’s going to make you retire your Nintendo 64 cartridge. It might be fun for maybe an hour or two, but you’ll most likely not going to remember it afterwards.

Graphics: 4.5

The environments might look nice, but the animations are incredibly subpar and the textural work is very simplistic.

Gameplay: 6.5

Accelerating and performing stunts is as straightforward as they should be, but the turning mechanics and the game’s physics are far from ideal.

Sound: 5.0

A forgettable soundtrack, as well as forgettable sound effects.

Fun Factor: 6.0

The game does offer a reasonable amount of content for the small price it charges, but it’s still very simplistic and uninteresting for a jet ski game, with bland level design and customization mechanics.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PS4, Switch, Wii U, PC