Vector Unit’s Riptide GP Renegade has arrived on Switch. Does it work on the might hybrid? The FingerGuns Review;
Jet Ski Racers have been around since Wave Race on the N64 with its groundbreaking wave mechanics. They were a big thing for a while and then suddenly just died a death. The only way to get your Jet-Ski fix was to play GTA V or something. However Vector Unit has been trying to bring the genre back since Hydro Thunder way back in 2010. Now their latest game Riptide GP: Renegade, which has pretty much appeared on every format in one way or another has splashed its way onto Nintendo’s Switch. Will it sink or swim? ha ha ha ha ha ha *sigh*
I’m just going to get the story out the way here. It’s not great. Basically, when you start you choose a racer, start a race and then as soon as you’re getting in your stride, you’re set up by a competitor and get sent to jail for a couple of years. Upon release, you decide to get back into the official Hydro Jet GP circuit by, um, by building your name through the illegal racing circuit, the very thing you got arrested for in the first place. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter as the story is only used to get you from one race to the next so it will do.
So Renegade is the futuristic jet ski game you’ve been waiting for, and it’s very old-school in its design. Players need to compete in various competitive races, slaloms and other events to move up the league, earn money, buy upgrades and tricks and make your name. Boy, It’s been a long time since I played a racer where I have to learn tricks!
The most important aspect of a jet ski game is the physics I think. Having a race on water, especially choppy water has to be spot on else you could have steering that doesn’t work, or you could be thrown into the air and spend more time crashing than you do racing. Waves also add in some unpredictable factors. All combined it could lead to the racing being a bit of a bust. Thankfully Vector Unit has done a good job getting the balance just right. The controls are tight, meaning you can float, drift and race in a straight line without having to fight too hard against the water, at least no more than you feel you should have to. Even in your first race you’ll be throwing your craft around corners and bouncing over waves as if it was something natural. Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
Along with the racing, the other important aspect is the trick system, When you launch off a ramp or a particularly big wave you get the chance to pull off a trick. Tricks are activated by using both analogue sticks in unison. I found this a bit fiddly thanks to the Switch’s right analogue stick being slightly lower than what feels natural so you’re left scrambling for the stick in the short time you have to pull off the stunt. It doesn’t help matters when the input system is somewhat floaty. Up, down, up down on both sticks, it’s quite hard to tell mid-race if your being accurate enough. If you do successfully pull off a trick it will then fill your boost meter giving you a handy spurt of speed when you need it most. You start off with a couple of basic stunts but more complicated tricks can be purchased by winning races and saving up your prize money.
There are a few different race modes to keep things interesting. During your career, you will have to take part in your standard bread and butter races where you race against 7 other yooofs. Then there are the Slalom races which have you riding between flags against the clock to score points. But arguably the most interesting mode is Elimination. Every 15 seconds the racer who is placed last gets eliminated. It’s tense and fun and is something that breaks up the otherwise by the numbers racing. Conversely, the worst races you will have are in the freestyle mode. Here you are placed on a course and let loose to score as many points as you can using your repertoire of tricks. The trouble is, the trick system, although adequate for most races, is just not intuitive enough when you have to rely on them to progress. Plus some of the courses only have a few opportunities to actually pull off big tricks so it can get quite frustrating quite quick especially as you have to complete them to progress any further.
Oh, and one another annoyance is the god damn police, always out to ruin your fun. And that’s exactly what they do, ruin YOUR fun, no one else’s, just yours. I mean there are 8 people competing in illegal races and yet all the police seem concerned about is you and you alone. You will get annoyed in these specific races as you’ll be endlessly harassed by the water rozzers which can ruin the races. Frustrating and certainly not cool.
Riptide GP: Renegade despite its various frustrations is a solid and enjoyable racing game for the Switch. For the most part, it’s a smooth watery ride, but on occasion, it can slow down if the waves are big and the rain is pouring, but those moments are few and far between. The racing is intense and fun, with the physics set just right to provide a decent challenge but yet make the racing fun. Outside of career mode, there are little options other than quick race or multiplayer. Speaking of which, thanks to the wizardry that is the Switch there is a split screen four-player option, which ran really well considering, although there was a compromise with the resolution. A perfect game to get your mates round to play, or keep the kids occupied on a long journey. And if you have no mates or kids then there is an 8 player online race option with cross-platform support. Combine that with the career mode which has a hell of a lot of tracks and modes and then, Couple that with all the tricks you can learn, decals and colours to unlock there is a lot of game for your money.
It’s nice to see jet ski racing making a return, but chances are you’ve probably played this already on literally any other format including mobile. The Switch version offers very little that is new to make you want to pick it up again if you have already sampled its watery delights (oo er), But considering the absurd value for money this game is (just £9.99), or if you haven’t played it before then this is a fun solid racer, that’s definitely worth picking up.
Riptide GP: Renegade is available now on Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, iOS and Android
Developer: Vector Unit
Publishers: Vector Unit
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were given a copy of the game. For more information on our review policy, please click here. Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission.