Kawasaki Jet Ski is the fifth Wii racing game released by publisher Bold Games (a sub-brand of Destineer) within the first month of 2008 – which would be a remarkable feat, were it something to be celebrated. Like its budget brethren, Kawasaki Jet Ski appears to have been compiled entirely by machines, offering a generic, unchallenging take on the genre popularized by Wave Race 64 back in 1996. In fact, with limp waves and even limper competition, there's surprisingly little to distinguish the resulting experience from that of any forgettable four-wheel racer.
Four locations (London, Thailand, Venice, and the Rockies) set the stage for the 12 tracks, though repeated segments are carried over between similarly themed courses. On top of the standard race, time trial, and championship modes, a rigidly designed Balloon Challenge gives you an opportunity to run down balloons in the shape of wannabe mascot Ninjabread Man, while the Stunt Challenge is all but sabotaged by unresponsive trick controls (the motion steering isn't much tighter).
A consistently clumsy frame rate creates the illusion of playing in slow motion, and the riders aren't especially animated – most of the time, the character model shakes in place or is slightly rotated a few degrees to one side or the other. Further accentuating the already-stunted in-game presentation are splash effects courtesy of MS Paint, trees consisting of intersected two-dimensional textures, and excessive, blinding lens flare. The Wii takes a lot of flak for its visual prowess (or lack thereof), but these faults are more likely attributed to lazy development or an unoptimized engine.
Kawasaki Jet Ski certainly wasn't expected to reinvent the genre, but it can't even provide the crucial cheap thrills necessary to the success of any budget title. At least it's not the worst of the Bold racing bunch – that'd be Kawasaki Quad Bikes… or maybe Classic British Motor Racing. Guess they really are indistinguishable.
Feb 13, 2008