Aqua Moto Racing [App Store] is a Jet Ski racing game, which hit the App Store last month. As Resolution Interactive’s second title, Aqua Moto Racing has secured their reputation in my book as yet another developer to keep an eye out for when looking for great games. Featuring 18 tracks that take place in three different aquatic locations, Aqua Moto Racing provides a dynamite package of speed, great graphics, and the best controls of any iPhone racing game I’ve played. Add to that the $2.99 price tag and Aqua Moto Racing is a hard title to pass up.

The bread and butter of Aqua Moto Racing is the championship mode, where you race your Jet Ski against five other AI opponents in series of six races. Points are awarded at the end of every race, and if you finish in at least third place overall you will unlock the next series of races as well as earn three tuning points to spend upgrading your Jet Ski.

Tuning points can be spent in one of four ways: top speed, acceleration, steering, and boost. Before every race you have the opportunity to modify how you have your Jet Ski tuned, which is a nice change of pace from most games where upgrades like this are permanent. If the mini map for the upcoming track looks like it has lots of turns, take some points out of top speed and throw them in steering. Are there lots of straights in the next track? Put as many points as possible in top speed.

Making your way through the races will come naturally to anyone who has ever played a Jet Ski racing game before. Tracks are laid out with a series of red and yellow buoys, red need to be passed on the right and yellow need to be passed on the left. Complete three laps--hopefully in first place--and the race is over. Miss three buoys and you’re disqualified.

Aqua Moto Racing’s controls are flawless. You steer your Jet Ski by tilting right and left and while the sensitivity of the tilt controls are customizable, I felt they were spot-on by default. You can slow down to make it around sharp corners by touching the left side of the screen. Touching the bottom of the screen turns the camera around so you can see behind you, and touching the right side of the screen burns through your boost meter and sends you rocketing forward. To get more boost, pass buoys on the correct side and successfully land tricks.

Of course, no Jet Ski racing game would be complete without an onslaught of ramps on which to do stunts. (The first ramp you come across is in the fourth race of the first championship series.) While you’re airborne, tilting the iPhone upwards enables stunt mode--the game then goes in to slow motion, and all the interface elements are replaced with six different buttons for tricks you can perform with stars to indicate difficulty. Hold down a button to perform a trick, but be careful to release it in time to allow your racer to get back in to riding position before you land. If you don’t successfully land the stunt you’re attempting, your racer goes splashing in to the water, usually resulting in being passed by a few AI racers.

Boost helps you get more air off a ramp but, generally speaking, the small amount that you gain from landing a stunt isn’t worth the risk of falling off your Jet Ski. In my experience, once you get passed by a few of the AI racers, it is very difficult to ever make up the lost time to get back in to first. There doesn’t seem to be any mechanic in place that allows you to go faster or gain more boost when you’re behind, like a lot of racing games have, so if you fall off more than twice you’re usually better off just cutting your losses and restarting the race.

On top of racing AI opponents, Aqua Moto Racing also has a time trial mode (you can play any track you’ve unlocked by winning championships), complete with ghosts of your best time and an online leader board. One thing I found fairly odd about the leader board system is, in order to use it you must register first, which is normal, but the email confirmation is the most ambiguous thing I have ever seen. It’s little more than a plain text email referencing your “Resolution Account” making no mention of Aqua Moto Racing, high scores, or anything else remotely related. If you didn’t know that Resolution Interactive made the game, I could easily see the email getting spammed or deleted because “Resolution Account” just sounds fishy.

The graphics in Aqua Moto Racing are unbelievable for a game you’re playing on your phone. The draw distance is better than most 3D iPhone games, and there’s never any pop-in for distant objects. If you would have told me in 1996, when I was spending more time than I’d care to admit unlocking everything possible in Wave Race 64, that I’d one day be playing an equivalent game on my phone… Regardless, comparisons to Wave Race 64 are inevitable for any Jet Ski racer (even more so now that it is available on the Wii Virtual Console.)

One thing that Aqua Moto Racing is missing (and I must stress I’m using the word “missing” in an extremely loose manner, as this game is great as is for the $2.99 price tag) is more activity from the water you’re racing on. I miss being able to jump big waves like in Wave Race 64; all the water in Aqua Moto Racing is remarkably calm. Another thing mysteriously absent from Aqua Moto Racing is a stunt mode, which is odd considering the emphasis put on doing stunts to gain boost. This is particularly unfortunate given how well the game's slow motion, with a secondary interface for performing tricks, is implemented. As someone who really enjoyed Wave Race 64’s stunt mode, I could see myself spending a lot of time doing tricks and submitting scores online.

Another feature I’d love to see is some kind of track editor similar to the one recently released for SlotZ Racer [App Store]. Since the 18 included tracks are just different buoy and ramp configurations on the same three aquatic areas, I could see a top-town interface to drop buoys and ramps to save as a new track not only being great fun, but also providing infinite replay value--especially if they could be shared online.

If you enjoyed Wave Race 64 (or really any other Jet Ski game) or like racing games in general, you’ll be right at home with Aqua Moto Racing. $2.99 is a steal for a game this polished, and I can’t wait to see what Resolution Interactive puts out next.  Those on the fence can check out the limited, free Aqua Moto Racing Lite [App Store] to try before buying.

See the developer's trailer video for a look at the gameplay.

Game Details
Name: Aqua Moto Racing (v1.0) Price: $2.99 [Buy]
Developer: Resolution Interactive Size: 14.4 MB
Device: Tested on iPhone 3G
  Aqua Moto Racing is a solid Jet Ski game. Fans of Wave Race 64 will feel right at home thrashing through buoys and flying over ramps. While we are always hopeful for more features, even as it stands Aqua Moto Racing is among the best that the iPhone has to offer in the racing genre.

This review was written by Eli Hodapp, a guest contributor at TouchArcade.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Big Albie

    I completely agree with this review. This is one of the best racers (in or out of water) in terms of controls and graphics you can get. Aqua Moto is solid and has plenty of tracks and levels. I hope Eli's review gets more people to pick up this game.

  • Big Albie

    I completely agree with this review. This is one of the best racers (in or out of water) in terms of controls and graphics you can get. Aqua Moto is solid and has plenty of tracks and levels. I hope Eli's review gets more people to pick up this game.

  • http://www.swingnite.com NYCrooner

    Excellent review. I was incredibly surprised by how great this game controlled. I've been relatively disappointed with the tilt controls of virtually every racing game on the App Store. However Aqua Moto has amazingly tight and accurate controls plus the game itself is very polished and very enjoyable.

  • http://www.swingnite.com NYCrooner

    Excellent review. I was incredibly surprised by how great this game controlled. I've been relatively disappointed with the tilt controls of virtually every racing game on the App Store. However Aqua Moto has amazingly tight and accurate controls plus the game itself is very polished and very enjoyable.

  • http://twitter.com/hodapp/ Eli Hodapp

    @NYCrooner - Couldn't agree more. So often tilt controls leave you spending more time fighting with the controls than actually playing the game. I'm pretty surprised how naturally tilting the iPhone translates in to accurately controlling your Jet Ski.

  • http://twitter.com/hodapp/ Eli Hodapp

    @NYCrooner - Couldn't agree more. So often tilt controls leave you spending more time fighting with the controls than actually playing the game. I'm pretty surprised how naturally tilting the iPhone translates in to accurately controlling your Jet Ski.

  • http://appstoreblog.com.br Nick Ellis

    Aqua Moto Racing is a good game, but Wave Race 64 was way better all those years ago, and it's still much better today.

  • http://appstoreblog.com.br Nick Ellis

    Aqua Moto Racing is a good game, but Wave Race 64 was way better all those years ago, and it's still much better today.

  • WolfgangK

    I have to agree with Nick. Wave Race 64 is still light years beyond this game. One thing I don't understand, is why the motorcraft in this game are referred to as Jet Skis. Aren't these wave-runners? I always thought Jet Skis were the craft where you are standing up vs. sitting.

    They control completely differently, and Wave Race using Jet Skis, is a much more nimble and fun experience, control wise. On top of not having actual waves, this game while nice-looking, doesn't even get me half way there compared to Wave Race. I only say this, because it always strikes me as odd that some of these design choices are made, when it seems there is a more fun alternative...and the design is already there in Wave Race for people to see what works, why it works, etc.

  • WolfgangK

    I have to agree with Nick. Wave Race 64 is still light years beyond this game. One thing I don't understand, is why the motorcraft in this game are referred to as Jet Skis. Aren't these wave-runners? I always thought Jet Skis were the craft where you are standing up vs. sitting.

    They control completely differently, and Wave Race using Jet Skis, is a much more nimble and fun experience, control wise. On top of not having actual waves, this game while nice-looking, doesn't even get me half way there compared to Wave Race. I only say this, because it always strikes me as odd that some of these design choices are made, when it seems there is a more fun alternative...and the design is already there in Wave Race for people to see what works, why it works, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/hodapp/ Eli Hodapp

    @WolfgangK - Haha, I suppose you're right about them being wave-runners and not Jet Skis. Being from Chicago, the only Jet Skis and wave-runners I see are on TV... So you'll have to let me slide not knowing the difference. In my defense, the Aqua Moto Racing description on the App Store refers to them as Jet Skis!

    You guys are right about the things "missing" from the game which exist in Wave Race 64, but this IS a cell phone game priced about $47 cheaper than Wave Race 64 when it came out on the Nintendo 64 (and $7 cheaper than Wave Race 64 on the Wii Virtual Console) so I really have a hard time putting that much negative emphasis on the fact. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/hodapp/ Eli Hodapp

    @WolfgangK - Haha, I suppose you're right about them being wave-runners and not Jet Skis. Being from Chicago, the only Jet Skis and wave-runners I see are on TV... So you'll have to let me slide not knowing the difference. In my defense, the Aqua Moto Racing description on the App Store refers to them as Jet Skis!

    You guys are right about the things "missing" from the game which exist in Wave Race 64, but this IS a cell phone game priced about $47 cheaper than Wave Race 64 when it came out on the Nintendo 64 (and $7 cheaper than Wave Race 64 on the Wii Virtual Console) so I really have a hard time putting that much negative emphasis on the fact. ;)

  • mark

    Thorough review - thanks. That's another game sold :)

    I still have Wave Race 64 knocking about somewhere so maybe this will make me dust it off and play.

  • mark

    Thorough review - thanks. That's another game sold :)

    I still have Wave Race 64 knocking about somewhere so maybe this will make me dust it off and play.

  • jk

    This game was so overlooked and underestimated in the forums.
    But now that arn has praised this game, everyone will start praising it too.

  • jk

    This game was so overlooked and underestimated in the forums.
    But now that arn has praised this game, everyone will start praising it too.

  • http://www.fftrealm.com Noah

    Yes, but can you put in a secret code and ride a Dolphin around the track?

  • http://www.fftrealm.com Noah

    Yes, but can you put in a secret code and ride a Dolphin around the track?

  • Nicarolina

    i am not buying this game until they come out with waves, when that happens, i will buy it instantly

  • Nicarolina

    i am not buying this game until they come out with waves, when that happens, i will buy it instantly

  • RedStaR

    This game was overlooked, thats why I did a hands on review on it weeks ago that wasn't that far off from this one.

    Glad to see it getting more recognition.

  • RedStaR

    This game was overlooked, thats why I did a hands on review on it weeks ago that wasn't that far off from this one.

    Glad to see it getting more recognition.

  • menom

    Yeah this is a fantastic game - just to clarify - you gain more boost by keeping as close as possible to the bouys as you race - this way you really can claw back the AI opponents - this gives the game a great balance of risk / caution even if you're ahead - you don't want to play it too safe, wide of the buoys as you might get passed and have no boost to respond

  • menom

    Yeah this is a fantastic game - just to clarify - you gain more boost by keeping as close as possible to the bouys as you race - this way you really can claw back the AI opponents - this gives the game a great balance of risk / caution even if you're ahead - you don't want to play it too safe, wide of the buoys as you might get passed and have no boost to respond

  • Miles

    One thing I've found missing: a speedometer. How can you tune your turns if you can't find out how fast you are (not) going?

  • Miles

    One thing I've found missing: a speedometer. How can you tune your turns if you can't find out how fast you are (not) going?

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  • TKO

    Glad I'm not the only Wave Race fan who got into this game. ..I just had to buy it right away, and I'm glad I did. People are right here about the well-calibrated controls and good graphics.

    Sure, it isn't jet-ski's, and there aren't waves (which are a huge tactical element of Wave Race), but it's a great game in its own right for fans of the genre.

    @Nicarolina ..just buy it. Or try the demo, at least. It's not trying to be Wave Race. Save your silent protest for the game that *claims* to be Wave Race Touch.

    Oh, and anyone here try Powerboat Challenge? Another good one for water-racing fans. That game has recreated the duelling-boats aspect of Wave Race well.

  • TKO

    Glad I'm not the only Wave Race fan who got into this game. ..I just had to buy it right away, and I'm glad I did. People are right here about the well-calibrated controls and good graphics.

    Sure, it isn't jet-ski's, and there aren't waves (which are a huge tactical element of Wave Race), but it's a great game in its own right for fans of the genre.

    @Nicarolina ..just buy it. Or try the demo, at least. It's not trying to be Wave Race. Save your silent protest for the game that *claims* to be Wave Race Touch.

    Oh, and anyone here try Powerboat Challenge? Another good one for water-racing fans. That game has recreated the duelling-boats aspect of Wave Race well.

  • Bradley

    Am I missing something here? Love the game, and have unlocked all the tuning points (3 for each first place finish) and I'm fairly decent at this. But when I see the "ghost" representing the world record, it is going waaaaaaay faster than I am. Like he can do three laps in the time it takes me to do two+. What gives. I'm not THAT bad! The ghost jetski is going much, much faster ...
    Bradley

  • Bradley

    Am I missing something here? Love the game, and have unlocked all the tuning points (3 for each first place finish) and I'm fairly decent at this. But when I see the "ghost" representing the world record, it is going waaaaaaay faster than I am. Like he can do three laps in the time it takes me to do two+. What gives. I'm not THAT bad! The ghost jetski is going much, much faster ...
    Bradley

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