There’s a hell of a steep learning curve to Aqua Moto Racing 2. If you’re not familiar with the genre of watercraft racing you may initially approach it like a karting game. This will see you overshooting your corners, drifting over barriers, and generally making a fool of yourself.
But that’s exactly what makes this game rewarding. Stick with it and pretty soon you’ll be slicing through the water like an Olympic ice skater, hugging the buoys and cleaving to the perfect racing line.
Okay, you probably won’t get that good. But you’ll have fun trying.
The aim in Aqua Moto Racing 2 is, of course, to go fast – ideally faster than the other watercraft on the water. Each course is a circuit and you have to do three laps. En route you’ll find bags of money, chests full of gold, ramps, and buoys with directional flags.
The flags let you know which side of the buoy you need to pass on. If you cut a corner or accidentally pass on the wrong side that’s one strike. If you get three strikes, you’re disqualified.
You might think that means it’s a good idea to give buoys a wide berth, but no. The closer you come to hitting a buoy, the more your boost meter will be replenished, so there’s always an incentive to live dangerously – but also to race well, since racing close to buoys typically means taking the best racing line.
That’s the core of Aqua Moto Racing 2’s visceral appeal: riding the line between chaos and excellence, while grappling with controls so drifty that they make the ice stages in DiRT Rally look like Train Simulator.
Each course typically has three or four ramps. As soon as you reach one of these you’ll get the option to pull off six different stunts — two each at easy, medium, or hard — with corresponding rewards in the form of cash.
Again, risk vs reward is the name of the game. If you get a good run up, perhaps propelled by a boost using your fully replenished boost button, you’ll have plenty of time in the air to execute the most complicated stunt for the maximum reward. If you’re not so sure, you can only hope that you’ll have time to finish the trick before splashdown.
But what is all this money – the stuff you get from tricks, and the other stuff you find lying around – for? Simple: buying better watercraft.
The most basic model will get you through the game’s Beginner Cup, but if you want to get much further you’ll need to fork out virtual cash for better vehicles, which not only cost money but only unlock after you reach certain ranks.
Once you’ve got through a cup those courses, separated by country, will be available to play at any time, and you get the option to set the number of opponents, the difficulty, and the number of laps.
There’s also a storm mode, which makes life harder by increasing the size of the waves, and a mirroring mode, which only unlocks at the very end and lets you play an inverted version of each course.
It’s fun to dip into these tracks, but the cups are the backbone of the game. It’s here that you’ll know how well you’re doing, as you struggle to outrace your opponents on the best watercraft you can afford while being buffeted by gorgeous, photorealistic waves.
Aqua Moto Racing 2 is an arcade racer through and through, with a soundtrack that could have come from OutRun. It doesn’t have a lot of variety, and the lack of multiplayer may be a sore point for some, but what it does do is frantic drifty racing in glamorous locations.