Splashdown – PlayStation 2
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Rainbow Studios
Publisher: Atari, Infogrames
Release Date (NA): November 5, 2001
Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
Fact: Jet Skis are awesome. Fact: Performing stunts on jet skis is badass. Fact: Power Sports are totally friggin’ bodacious. Jet Ski video games are always a fun experience… Fact? Maybe for some. Not for all. But it is definitely a fact that there’s a market out there for power sports video games. Look at the success of Nintendo’s Wave Race series. How about SingleTrac and Sony’s Jet Moto series? And how can we forget Splashdown’s developer Rainbow Studios and their epic titles with Motocross Madness, ATV Offroad Fury, and MX Rider? Obviously people out there want to play power sports video games. Games like Wave Race: Blue Storm and Splashdown will have players rubbing aloe on their skin and cleaning sand out of their hair with their efforts on realistic water effects and blistering sun lens flares.
Splashdown doesn’t quite have the same appeal that Wave Race: Blue Storm does for the GameCube. But that’s unfair to developer Rainbow Studios as going up against Nintendo isn’t a battle for the faint of heart. Wave Race 64 and Blue Storm were critical successes and one could argue that the games were created with 2 purposes: To showcase the systems’ capabilities and to sell a million games, of course! Was Splashdown created with similar goals? Perhaps. But instead of drawing direct comparisons over and over, Splashdown should be viewed for what it is as a Jet Ski stunt and racing video game!
Splashdown has a pretty gnarly introduction with some cool Jet Ski cinematics and SR-71’s song “Right Now.” Yes, the actual song, not a chiptune. Those days are long gone. There are 4 game modes to choose from: training, career, arcade, and versus. Career mode has you embark on a worldwide racing tour in an effort to reach the World Finals at Lake Havasu, Arizona. Arcade features a variety of races such as circuit or time trial where you can choose any location, assuming you’ve unlocked them all! Versus is self-explanatory, as is training mode. But let’s talk about training mode real quick.
One of the beauties of most games post-1999 is the inclusion of some sort of tutorial. In previous games we typically had to learn on the fly, which generally caused serious anger and frustration, often resulting in a game that never got played! Splashdown features a nice training mode that actually has lessons on basic driving, turning, submarining, bunny hopping, and numerous stunts. While some might prefer to jump right in the deep end, others favor taking a little extra time to learn the controls and master the game! These little tutorials are a surefire way to excel in Splashdown and enjoy the game to its fullest extent. Did I mention that the tutorial has actual verbal explanations with examples (and the British or Australian chick sounds hawt)?? Talk about thoughtful!
Splashdown features 8 racers total, 4 of which are unlockable, each with their own performance attributes. While Career mode might be the main game they want to push and have everyone play, I personally like the arcade mode for some laid back fun. It turns Splashdown into more of a casual pick-up-and-play-anytime kind of game! Almost everything is customizable in arcade mode including the option to do a circuit, a free ride, a time trial race, adjust the difficulty, alter the number of laps, and more. There are 18 total locations (20 total courses), 14 of which are unlockable! That’s insane! Classic locations such as Maui, Loch Ness, Kuta Beach in Bali, Three Rivers, the Nile River, and Venice to name a few! If you want to unlock the good stuff, you’ve got to play the Career mode!
The unlockable content in Splashdown provides an extremely high level of replayability as you will find yourself digging deeper and deeper just to unlock more locations! While the 6 locations they originally provide are beautiful in their own way, you will continue to marvel in the wonders Rainbow Studios created with each course you unlock. Each location is loaded with plenty of stunt ramps, obstacles to hurdle, slalom buoys, and myriad eye candy in the form of yachts, islands, city bridges, and much more. If unlockables mean nothing to you, then lay out a beach towel and shut the eff up!
Performing stunts might possibly be the most challenging part of Splashdown, as they’re a necessary part of successfully winning a race. If you don’t finish your stunt before you land, you will be knocked off your jet ski and lose a few seconds, possibly giving your opponents an opportunity to catch up and/or pass you! The performance meter monitors your watercraft’s performance, from base to peak performance. It is the main link between stunts and racing. So essentially, you can’t JUST race; you also have to do stunts. Simple stunts (tier 1) aren’t tough at all, but anything in tier 2 or 3 is just absurd and complex! It’s like they integrated Tekken game controls into a racing game!
The music in Splashdown features tracks from Smash Mouth, Sum 41, SR-71, Blink 182, The Donnas, and more. While they all might sound a little similar, they do fit the feel of a Jet Ski racing game with their catchy riffs and summer-in-the-sun vibes. I think getting the licenses to use these songs was one of the smartest moves they pulled, as they easily could have laid down their own tracks or bought some songs from unknown bands. Smooth move.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Splashdown when I bought it for a dollar last week (July 2014), but I was more than pleasantly surprised when I began to play. It took me back to the days when Jet Moto was my jam! But Splashdown isn’t like Jet Moto at all, opting for more realism in its gameplay. What you get when you play Splashdown is a very exceptional Jet Ski racing game with incredible controls, vibrant colors, sharp and detailed graphics, and pure unadulterated fun! Not to mention the awesome music took me back to my high school days.
I can’t recommend Splashdown enough, even as I look back at this game over 12 years later. Sony just recently released the PlayStation 4 and I’m talking about a game from 2001 on the PlayStation 2. Truly though, the water looks great for its time. And the game is a purely enjoyable experience from start to finish. Take note developers! This is a great example of how a Jet Ski racing game should be made! Oh, and did I mention that I found this game COMPLETE with booklet and all for just $.99? That’s a steal if I’ve ever seen one. No excuses. Go relive some glory days folks.
Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
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