Watercraft racing is not for the faint-hearted, if only because falling off your vehicle means potentially becoming lost at sea. Fortunately, Aqua Moto Racing 2 allows you to experience the thrills of aquatic motorsports without the risk of even getting wet.
Aqua Moto Racing 2 tasks you with one thing: winning races over three laps. But on your way around the tracks you’ll also find bags full of cash, chests full of gold, ramps, and tokens. In many cases these items are out of the way, forcing you to risk pole position if you want to snag them.
The ramps, meanwhile, let you pull off stunts. As soon as your watercraft touches a ramp you’re presented with six buttons. Two of them are for easy stunts, two are for medium ones, and two are for tricky ones. The prize is gold, with tricky stunts earning you more than easy ones, but at the risk of wiping out.
Another thing you’ll find on your way around the tracks is buoys carrying flags that tell you which side to pass them on — yellow for left, red for right. The closer you get to hitting one of these buoys, the more your boost meter will be replenished. But hit a buoy and you’ll stop dead. Go on the wrong side of one and you’ll get a penalty. Do that three times and it’s game over.
You can probably see a pattern emerging. Aqua Moto Racing is all about risk versus reward. The core racing is a fun challenge in its own right, particularly as you grapple with the huge amount of drift that moving on water entails, but risk/reward is the hook that makes every race interesting.
You know what the risks are. Let’s talk about the rewards, starting with the aforementioned boost meter.
At the bottom-right of the screen you have a disc that gradually fills with blue. When it’s full you can press it to receive a temporary boost, which is great for carrying you past your opposition on a straight, or giving you extra time in the air on a ramp. In a tight race it can easily be the difference between first and last place.
Then there’s the cash. You spend this on new and improved watercraft. Your default vehicle is enough to take you through the beginner cup, but pretty soon you’ll need something more powerful.
You can redo races to earn extra gold with which to buy more powerful watercraft up to a point, but you also need to make progress, as later models only unlock once you reach a certain rank.
After completing a cup in Aqua Moto Racing 2’s Career mode you’ll be able to race on the tracks in that cup whenever you like. You’ll be able to fiddle with the options, too, setting the number of laps, the number of opponents, the difficulty, and even the weather.
It’s fun to try revisit the glamorous tropical waters of previous races and tweak the conditions, but the Career is the beating heart of the game.
Here you’ll work your way through a series of cups each containing three races. You don’t need to come first in every race, but you need to do well enough overall to unlock the next cup and increase your rank.
As you can imagine, it’s very frustrating to miss out on a podium place because of a slip on the last lap of the third race in a cup, and this injects the game with a huge amount of tension — particularly alongside the risk/reward thread that runs through every race.
Aqua Moto Racing 2 could do with a couple more strings in its bow, not least a multiplayer mode. But that doesn’t prevent it from being a fun experience, complete with sumptuous tropical paradise graphics and a nostalgic arcade soundtrack.