There are few games I have more fondness towards than the Jet Moto series on PlayStation One back in the 90s. Since then, however, the jet ski racing genre originally inspired by Wave Rider 64 has all but died. Yet have you since ever wanted to experience the joy and magic of the Jet Moto series again? Well, good news! Because like a newborn phoenix rising from the ashes of its past, this genre finds a new home thanks to developer Vector Unit, but this time on the Nintendo Switch. Their port of Riptide GP: Renegade, originally a mobile game, is a promising resurgence of old ideas brought new. Here’s our review of Riptide GP: Renegade. Riptide GP Renegade review switch
Riptide GP: Renegade brings all the things I loved about Jet Moto back and tuned up for a new audience. The jet ski racing is still there (now called hydrojets instead of jet skis), and the improved water physics that has evolved over the years really help to immerse me more than ever into the game. Races are short affairs, usually lasting only a lap or two, but that’s really all you need. There’s a quick pace to the game, including both its story as well as its progression system.
The story starts off at the conclusion of a GP tournament in which your character recently won. His rival, another racer, challenges him to an unofficial match and apparently, that’s illegal – so your protagonist gets hauled to jail never to see his dream of becoming a professional racer realized. Years later you’re let go, and now you must earn the right to compete back, win, and exact your revenge. Although I appreciate that the game has a story, I find it a bit unnecessary and a tad rushed at times.
For instance, one of the race tracks takes place in an abandoned city where high-rise buildings and complexes poke out of the water like so many weeds. Something happened to cause the water levels to rise so high; but the game doesn’t explain that, it is only concerned with your racer’s story as he tries to earn back his reputation. I feel like this was a missed opportunity as I would’ve preferred some background or lore to tacks such as these. Instead, the game just shoehorns in these awesome tracks with no explanation.
Races themselves are a fun affair. The campaign is built around different circuits, or leagues of a sort, and you must race through a series of events ranging from time trials to elimination style matches to even pulling off a certain number of tricks within a time limit. The races felt pretty cookie cutter up until it started to throw in these little distractions. Each different style of race helped to improve me little by little as I grew more familiar with landing tricks, utilizing boosts, and earning credits to upgrade my ride.
As you complete races, you earn credits as well as experience points. As your driver level goes up, you earn skill points that you can utilize in upgrading abilities such as your starting boost speed, the ability to draft other racers and gain speed, or add new tricks you can pull off in races. Earning credits will help you in upgrading your ride as well. You can choose to upgrade your acceleration, top speed, handling, and boost stats for each hydrojet you can eventually unlock.
You can also unlock additional racers. Although these are purely cosmetic, it’s nice to have an assortment of racers in your crew that you can select as your avatar. At the conclusion of a racing series, you are confronted by that area’s ‘boss’ so to speak. They’ll challenge you to a one-on-one and, if you win, they’ll join your crew. These races are a little bit longer than the typical race and the AI is much smarter than the rest of the grunts you raced against up until then. But they’re a great opportunity to show off your moves and prove that you’ve got what it takes!
When you’re tired of racing against computers, there are thankfully some options for players to choose from. Locally, Riptide GP supports up to 4-player split-screen play so you can take the thrill of hydrojet racing to your friends – and on the go thanks to the portability that is the Nintendo Switch. But players also have online multiplayer to dive into as well. Too few games offer one and not the other mode, so it’s nice to see Riptide GP catering to all audiences and letting them choose which gameplay mode strikes their fancy.
Overall, Riptide GP: Renegade is a fun and delightful experience for any racing fans, but will especially hook those – like me – that grew up with Jet Moto. Although the story appears thin and doesn’t do enough to explore the settings of the world around you, the wide range of gameplay options and modes like online multiplayer will provide ample distraction to the player. Riptide GP is available worldwide on PC via Steam, as well as the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One consoles.
Note: Our review copy was provided on the Nintendo Switch with a code from PR.
Compare to: JetMoto, WaveRunner
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10
- Authentic water physics gives it the best feeling game in the genre
- Multitude of game modes, including online multiplayer and split-screen
- Upgradeable skills and hydrojets allow for customizable experiences
- Repetitive gameplay made races feel tedious after a while
- Story was too thin and didn’t explore the timeline in depth