Watercraft racing games are almost always a solid choice for adrenaline-inducing competitive action. Aqua Moto Racing Utopia now joins the Riptide franchise to offer another modern take on the genre so let's head to the races and make some waves!
I've always been a big fan of unconventional arcade-style racers. Whether I'm driving a toy car, go-kart, motocross bike, or futuristic contraption; many good times will be had on my couch. One subgenre specifically that has always stood out is water-based racing games. Thankfully, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia offers some incredibly satisfying gameplay. Most races have to be completed as you weave through the correct sides of pylons that are scattered around the tracks. This means that you not only have to be fast, you must also have perfect precision. Those who master the ability to effortlessly navigate through the courses will be rewarded with boost the closer they are to each pylon as well as plenty of cash that they can use to purchase new vehicles. Speaking of which, there are two kinds of vehicles in the form of runabouts and skis. Both types handle very differently which adds a great deal of variety to the gameplay.
Aqua Moto Racing Utopia looks great and boasts an impressive collection of diverse tracks. Honestly, I'm blown away by how many tracks they created for this experience. Most modern racers have a handful that get boring after a while yet here, there are ten environments that each feature three to five tracks each. You'll find yourself racing through places such as stadiums, tropical paradises, cities, swamps, harbours, and oil refineries. Each one is gorgeous to look at and the splashes of water that show up on the screen add an additional layer of immersion. One problem that I encountered, however, is that the camera would sometimes dip beneath the water and you can clearly see the black void below. This is probably a glitch that they'll patch in the future but for now, it kind of takes away from the otherwise excellent visuals. When it comes to sound, the generic electronic music tunes and quiet engines unfortunately leave a lot to be desired. On the plus side, the cheesy announcer is enjoyable to listen to as he occasionally comments on the action.
The stunt system in Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is robust and intuitive. You can perform dozens of different moves and they're all executed seamlessly as you jump off ramps and massive oncoming waves. Even when you're level with the water, you can perform some tricks such as standing on top of your ski. That being said, you better be careful not to smack into any obstacles! That brings me to my next point: it's far too easy to fall off your craft. Some tracks are littered with obscured trees while other times, your opponents may slam into you from out of nowhere. On the other hand, falling off and crashing doesn't really have that negative of an impact as you jump right back into the race with almost no setback. This sounds convenient but it also makes you more of a careless driver because it's often not worth the extra caution as you can just keep going whenever you happen to wipe out.
Aqua Moto Racing Utopia not only has a lot of tracks, it also features loads of different modes. When playing solo, you can: challenge a variety of championship tournaments, design your character, take on time trials and freestyle stunt events, play through custom races, or simply drive around aimlessly on your track of choice. If you want to take the race online then you can with up to eight simultaneous players although there's only one mode where you work through a selection of three consecutive tracks. However, local multiplayer is fantastically done. Besides simple races and freestyle stunt events, there's an array of four very enjoyable party games. Aqua Moto Hockey has you push a giant puck into your opponent's net, Keep The Flag makes competitors chase each other to claim a flag, and King Of The Hill rewards points according to how long you can stay in an area. The best game by far is Duckling Mama where you gather a chain of rubber duckies while you try to snag your opponents' ducks, too. It's ridiculous and loads of fun with friends.
In the end, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is one of the best watercraft racers out there. It may suffer from some minor problems but the gameplay is so incredibly fun and there are many modes to enjoy it within. This is one racer that you don't want to pass up on!
- + Awesome racing with a satisfying stunt system and a variety of vehicles and modes
- + Diverse array of fantastic-looking tracks
- + Great selection of multiplayer games
- - It's too easy to get snagged and crash yet recovery time isn't punishing enough
- - Lackluster music and sound effects
- - A few odd graphical issues