Electric Playground LogoSony Reviews

Jet Moto
developed by
Single Trac
published by
Sony Computer Entertainment

January 24, 1997

People have been tagging this game, "Wave Race Lite", which is a rather apt description. Jet Moto is a lot like the stupendous Wave Race 64, except that Jet Moto's light on the good control, it's light on the great graphics and it's light on the excessive amount of replay value that's made Wave Race 64 one of the best games of all time. Other than that, there are plenty of reasons why people could draw the comparison.

Jet Moto is a skim-vehicle racing game. The vehicles are called bikes, although, these are unlike any bikes you've ever seen before. They float a couple of feet in the air and whip over any kind of surface; water, sand, snow, concrete; it doesn't matter with these things - it's all part of the race. This is part of the charm of this game - the abundance of different tracks and conditions. Along with that is the huge collection of different racers who all pilot slightly different Jet Moto bikes. The match-ups and options available to you in this game are staggering.

High Velocity Veneer

Jet Moto's visuals are on the disappointing side of kinda neat. The set up screens promise a comic book-like universe but once you get inside the game, you'll discover that there are serious 3D construction problems. The tracks are littered with popping and distorting polygons. At times, in the middle of cluster confusion, it becomes impossible to distinguish just where or who the hell you are. There are some nice lighting effects (particularly in the tunnels) but then glaring omissions, like any sort of sky texture in the Blackwater Falls level, bring you crashing right back down to earth.

The Jet Moto bikes look ridiculously cool - as if they've just popped out of an imaginative teenager's art book. But once the race begins and you witness how stiff the animation of controlling these bikes is, quite a bit of luster is taken from the shine. There are differences to the feel of the bikes but to my eyes, they all appeared identical to each other, save for each of the four different teams' racing colors. There has been an attempt to create a fully realized three dimensional environment (a la Psygnosis' games), with advertisements and all kinds of fastidiously created background artwork but make no mistake, kids, Jet Moto is no WipeOut XL.

In summary, I liked the overall look of this game but I felt that the artists and developers were a little too ambitious with the amount of levels and features offered. As great as it is to race on ten different tracks against 20 different opponents at a time, I would have been happier if your racers' animation had been better and there were fewer, but better looking, opponents and environments in the game. You can't win the race by counting the number of features in the game - hell, all you've got to do is look at Wave Race 64, which sports only four incredibly articulated racers, to see that.

Now This Is A Soundtrack!

Jet Moto features one of the coolest and most infectious soundtracks of 1996. The musicians did a marvelous job of bringing us into the slightly loony racing world of this game. When you're flying over palm trees at 100 miles an hour, there's nothing that goes down better than some bitchin' Duane Eddy style surf guitar. Musical nuances like the fiddle in the Blackwater Falls level are just this side of too much, daddy-o. This is a rockin' soundtrack that puts most others to shame. I can't wait to hear Jet Moto 2!

Splish, Splash, Car-runchh!

With so many different areas to race through in Jet Moto, you can bet the sound effects palette is varied and eccentric. One minute you're bouncing on waves, the next you're face planting into the side of a metal barrier attached to a track that's been suspended a mile above the city lights. I loved the scraping sound that signifies you've just barely made it over a potentially hazardous section of broken track. And the constant bumping and shoving that goes on between racers is more than adequately accentuated. Jet Moto is one of the best sounding games of the year, make sure you pay the sound designers your respect by playing the game loud.

Wiping Out

Quirky is the one word I'd use to describe how it feels to control the vehicles in Jet Moto. The digital tap-tap-tapping your way through a race was something I never could get used to. The control should have felt completely organic, due to the fact that I was actually racing on a cushion of air. WipeOut and its sequel have a similar control interface but somehow they don't feel anywhere near as loosey-goosey as Jet Moto.

I know that Sony wanted to capitalize on the rush of water based racing games that have taken over the gaming world, but I couldn't help thinking how much cooler this game would have turned out if the developers had time to tweak and finesse the graphics and code for the force feedback analog stick that's on its way home. Jet Moto would have been much more impressive if it had been held back a little bit.

As it stands now, the control and game play are adequate, nothing more.

The packaging and instruction booklet claim that this game has a trademarked feature called "True Physics 3D" built in. This feature is supposed to provide accurate real world modeling of what it would be like to actually drive one of these vehicles on the planet earth. Let me tell you something, if this is an accurate realization of how these things would handle in the real world, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that the only way there would be any Jet Moto racing going on is if the promoters bought and trained chimpanzees to ride these things, because no human being would even step close to one of these psychotic rockets.

You turn on a penny, not a dime; you can complete a barrel roll while you're practically sitting still; and, you seem to move at about the speed of jello when you're in the middle of your jumps. Does this sound safe to you?

More than once you'll end up over steering or pressing the turbo at the wrong time and coming face to face with an immovable object. This won't bug you the first time you see the animation of your rider shooting skyward in a hilarious arc straight out of the Road Runner cartoons. However, about the seventh or eighth time you see the same animation, and that pack of racers passing you, it won't be quite so funny.

One innovation that plays a major part in succeeding in Jet Moto is proper use of the grappling device. At certain tricky corners located on each track, a tall energy beam stands straight up and down at the axis of the turn. By timing things properly you can shoot out an electronic grappling wire that connects with the beam and helps you whip around the corner without incident. If you're off on your timing, you'll end up being race smear. The grappling element adds quite a bit of strategy to the race and is a definite plus.

Mirroring some of the flash you'll find in Wave Race 64, Jet Moto also sports a stunt capability. During each race, you can do all kinds of nifty things but unfortunately the animation is so creaky, it's hardly worth it. Once you've won a full race season on the game's hardest level, you'll be granted access to Jet Moto's stunt track, where you'll be awarded points for the amounts of rolls and flips you can pull off.

Beating the game is not something that you'll be able to do quickly, however, because Jet Moto is very difficult. Even on the game's easiest setting, your opponents are relentless. And because the control never feels just right, navigating the tracks at high speeds can be an exercise in frustration. Several times through Jet Moto's instruction book the writer mentions that you should keep practicing and practicing until you can climb your way to the harder levels and the next round of tracks. If you're going to venture into this game, I'd concur.

Maybe Next Year

The whole of Jet Moto is not as cool as some of its parts. After the first strains of the groovy music and my initial glimpse of the comic book set up screens, I was expecting much more. However, there are enough good things about Jet Moto to warrant a second crack at it. I, for one, would like to see a sequel. Suggestions: The in-game graphics have to be worked on; the control should be analog; and the animation could be a lot smoother. No one would dare call this game "lite" after that.

I'm giving Jet Moto...........................................6.5 out of 10

The relatively low score given to this game has kicked up a bit of fuss. To read the letters that we recieved about Jet Moto, check out our Opinions page.

Victor Lucas

Thought Drop

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