Eliminator Boat Duel – NES
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Developer: Sculptured Software
Publisher: Electro Brain
Release Date (NA): November 1991
Genre: Racing Games
Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Reviewed By ZB
Here we go, “Elimonator Boat Duel,” as it is known by the top label. For everyone else on the planet, Eliminator Boat Duel, as it is properly named. I was fortunate enough to run across this title recently, and as a game that looked promising I decided to pick it up. My gain is yours as well, for now you can enjoy one of my world-famous (eventually) reviews of this lesser-known gem!
Eliminator Boat Duel is a fun and challenging racing game. It’s packed with personality and alternating modes of piloting that’ll give you plenty of reasons to come back for more. With a genre such as racing on a system like Nintendo it’s easy to fall into the trap of generic gameplay. And with Rad Racer, Super Off Road, and others like them leading the way on this pinnacle console, how does an underdog title stand out from the crowd?
Why, it combines the style of racing from both games, of course!
While Eliminator Boat Duel does have similarities to these games it definitely handles differently (at least from Rad Racer, though I can’t speak for Super Off Road). We’ll discuss controls shortly, so hang tight.
To start off, Eliminator Boat Duel is colorful. It has style. You’re pitted against several kooky characters from the mellow hippy Aquarius Rex to the mad lunatic Weird Willey. Before the race you are met with a screen featuring one of these vibrant personalities in a distinct cartoon treatment, coupled with a fun dialogue box suited to the personality of your foe. Bikini-clad beach babes are all over you if you win, they root for you if you get enough of a head start, and they will demand an instant replay if it’s a close finish (even if you know who won…dammit Willey!).
Races are broken up into three segments: the launch, buoy racing, and the overhead courses. The variety is what really makes this game fun, setting it apart from all the squares.
The launch is all about timing. Too soon and you lose $200 (cash is vital for upgrades, so don’t do it). Too late and your opponent will gain an insurmountable lead on you, lest you be toting enough nitro to catch up. And even so, there’s no need to fear. The rear-view race will put you within close distance to your competition, giving you ample opportunity to catch up.
Whatever happens next will vary. Sometimes you have the overhead race, sometimes it’s the traditional Rad Racer affair, and you may even have a round that is simply the flag launch just to throw a little variety into the mix.
The overhead view works much like another racing game I have in my library – the unofficial Tengen port of Super Sprint. This segment of Eliminator Boat Duel is an isometric perspective rife with hazards and ramps. See that radioactive barrel floating in mother nature’s crystal blue? Don’t avoid it! Hit it! This will launch you ahead of the competition, sparing your supply of nitro. Ramps will also help in your struggle to gain the lead, but don’t expect too much of an advantage after landing. These boosts seem to be a little finicky, sometimes even slowing you down. Unless I’m doing something wrong, which is entirely possible.
The buoy portion plays a little more like a traditional racing game. In this part nitro is your only chance to get an advantage over your opponent. The narrow flag poles will offer a different kind of maneuvering challenge from the other race type. And watch out for white flags! They’ll damage your hull.
Hull damage is something to look out for. The “duel” in the title implies combat. While it’s not an all-out brawl, you are encouraged to land on your opponent to vitiate their vessel. If they sink that’s bonus cash in your hand! But watch out because they can also unleash destruction upon you by landing atop your innocent craft. Though I personally have yet to meet the ocean floor playing this game.
After each race you are given the opportunity to upgrade your boat. This is a good time to repair any damages incurred from the previous round. Use your better judgement here, as this will greatly affect your chances in the next race. If you play your cards right you should be able to max out your boat towards the end of the game.
Eliminator Boat Duel has solid controls, which is essential for a good racing title. Early on you’ll note that the steering feels tight but in later stages sharp turns will have you rue the moment you made such a declaration. Fear not, a simple upgrade of your turning radius will put you right back into buttery-smooth handling. While these racing types are quite different they both work very well and are soft and smooth to the touch. Any difficulty found here is in the layout of the courses.
You only have three unique race settings, and while some may desire a broader array of scenery, the inherent variety found in the game’s mechanics will more than make up for any deficiency in backdrops.
Oh, and by the way, Eliminator Boat Duel has an ending! That’s right! I won’t spoil it for you but I will say if you enjoy the pre-race dialogue you’ll enjoy what happens after you beat the game. And a bit of a twist after all that as well.
The music is fun and charming. It’s quirky, weird, kinda grungy at times, and yeah, kind of laggy. Some may not dig it, but I sure do. It’s classic Nintendo is what it is. The tune is different depending on which leg of the race you’re on (overhead or buoy), but otherwise there’s no variation within those parts. There isn’t a ton of variety in the music, though character cut scenes will play a certain theme depending on the type of personality you’re up against. And that’s nice.
Of course to top it off there’s a two player mode so you can have fun and race with your friends! What more could you want? Friends to play it with? Well, yes, that would be nice.
So next time you see Eliminator Boat Duel floating around be sure to pick it up. The fun doesn’t end at the groovy, colorful art on the label of this hidden gem! And at a cheap price tag that your wallet won’t regret there’s no risk to you, the player!
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