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Video Game / Wave Race

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Wave Race is a series of jet ski racing games by Nintendo, first originating on the Game Boy in 1992. Wave Race 64, released for the Nintendo 64 in 1996 (and later on the Wii Virtual Console in 2007), is the best known and most well-loved of the lot of them. Wave Race: Blue Storm, released as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001, is the final release to date.

64 was notable in its use of very realistic wave physics, which use up approximately 80 percent of the system's power. It was also the first game to utilize the Controller Pak for exchanging vehicle settings and time tables between cartridges.note  Blue Storm is known for its waves being affected by the constantly changing weather, adding more depth to its races.

64 was re-released in 2007 on the Wii's Virtual Console service, and was later released on the Wii U in 2016. In August 2022, it was added to Nintendo Switch Online's library of Nintendo 64 games. To date, the series has lied dormant for over two decades. Ryota appears in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a spirit, and a disc of Blue Storm is a collectible treasure in Pikmin 4, which is the series' latest reference in any Nintendo game. The series also gets a passing mention in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Wave Race contains examples of:

  • Border Patrol: Going outside of the boundary buoys or going out of the water will trigger a countdown. Fail to get back in bounds in time and you will get disqualified (and, if you're playing Championship Mode, a zero for the course).
  • Dolphins, Dolphins Everywhere: They serve as power ups that help you steer better, make you immune to whirlpools and let you more easily move through shallow water.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: There are dolphins appearing in certain courses, most notably in Dolphin Park, in which the tutorial consists of following a dolphin. A code allows you to ride a dolphin in that course.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: The arrows, even though they don't look like it.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: Want to know the details of your racer, the league, the circuit, the machines used? Too bad.
  • Ramp Jump: Not always the best thing to do but there are lots of opportunities to do so. The problem is it increases your speed but since you can't turn in air and have no breaks that can be bad. Trying to adjust the length of your jump can also make you lose control.
  • Scoring Points: The point of Slalom mode is to go through the most check points to win the most points.
  • Top-Down View: Some things will be floating on their sides to be more easily identified.
  • Wacky Racing: More than the sequels, better get used to ramming other racers, especially on narrow water ways. You think a jet-ski race would be pretty standard, but the racers constantly bump into each other due to some narrow areas. Moreover, dolphins and octopi serve as power-ups.

Wave Race 64 contains examples of:

  • Announcer Chatter: The game has one announcer that will always make a commentary in case you blow past the competition, fall behind, or get knocked off your jet ski.
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: Ryota is balanced, Ayumi has low speed but high acceleration (Fragile Speedster), Dave has high speed but low acceleration (Mighty Glacier), Miles has medium stats but extremely high turning (gimmick).
  • Border Patrol: Going outside of the boundary buoys or beaching your craft will trigger a 10-second countdown. Failure to get back in bounds will trigger a retire.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ayumi Stewart is Japanese-American.
  • Cosmetic Award: Perform well enough in Championship Mode and you'll see whales on the final course.
  • Flawless Victory: The game rewards players finishing in first with no penalties for steering on the wrong side of the speed buoys with the the announcer screaming "Banzai!" as they cross the finish line.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: On the practice track Dolphin Park.
  • Geo Effects: The wave patterns are essential to know to make the track work in your advantage.
  • Jack of All Stats: Ryota Hayami.
  • Level in Reverse: The final unlocked difficulty has you racing each track in reverse.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: The game does this under two circumstances:
    • The track introductions...
      "Welcome to [track name]."
    • ...and the occasional notification how much of a time gap is between the player and an opponent after each lap.
      "You're about [number] seconds [ahead/behind]."
  • Mighty Glacier: Dave Mariner, who is very fast for his size yet has poor handling, grip, and acceleration to go along with it. Best recommended for advanced players.
  • Ominous Fog: Drake Lake, though it does clear up eventually.
  • Product Placement: Kawasaki and Fanta soft drink sponsor this game, and their ads appear nearly everywhere.
  • Product Displacement: Zig-zagged. There are ads for Kawasaki plastered all over the game (and Fanta Orange Soda in the Japanese version, which was replaced with the Nintendo 64 logo on the international release). Due to the licensing agreement between them and Nintendo having expired in the interim, Nintendo had to replace the Kawasaki banners with ones advertising various Nintendo consoles when the game was re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console. Then when the game was re-released on Wii U and Nintendo Switch, Nintendo had renewed their license and had the Kawasaki branding reinserted.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Glacier coast
  • The Smurfette Principle: Ayumi Stewart is the only female character.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: No idea what that number could be referring to.
  • Tech-Demo Game: The game was made to show off the water effects of the N64, particularly the undulation of waves, which was impossible on earlier consoles.
  • Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack: In true Kazumi Totaka fashion, nearly every track uses a variation of the theme song, or at least a Recurring Riff. This even extends to other areas like the options menu and the name entry screen.
  • Time Trial: The only thing you'll be doing in the dolphin area besides free roaming is this, you can do trials on all the other courses too.
  • Title Scream: Before the classic "press start"
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Going through buoys correctly speeds you up. Missing too many buoys automatically disqualifies you, likely because if you've been missing there would be no way to catch up anyway.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: No longer simulating, this one's got polygons and depth.

Wave Race: Blue Storm contains examples of:

  • All or Nothing: You can perform stunts and tricks to build up your boost meter, but you won't get anything if you botch it. Performing tricks not involving ramps (headstands for example) can build up the boost meter slowly the longer you maintain the trick, but bumping into anything at all will knock your racer off their jet ski completely or make them slip, which will cost you time and position in a race.
  • Announcer Chatter: Unlike its predecessor, the game demotes the announcer to just one phrase: "Ladies and gentlemen! Start your engines!" The constant chatter now goes to your character's coach and like in the previous game, will always comment when you fall off, pass a buoy the right or wrong way, and tells you when you have turbo power.
  • Anti-Climax: The last course in expert mode, Strong Water Keep, is pretty short, after you've seen them get progressively longer. Especially since it comes after the unforgiving La Razza Canal!
  • Bat Family Crossover: Features three guest stars from 1080° Snowboarding, including Akari Hayami. Instead of averting One-Steve Limit with Ryota Hayami, the two are siblings and the games take place in the same universe.
  • The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: Seems to be the case with Serena Del Mar.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The game has the four races from Wave Race 64 return... except for Miles Jeter, who just didn't come back without an explanation.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to 64. In addition to the much steeper learning curve, the mood is also decidedly less cheerful in Blue Storm: The color palette is dimmer, the almost overly enthusiastic 64 announcer has been replaced with racer-specific announcers that are usually far more direct and blunt, and the soundtrack replaces the cheery J-Pop of 64 with a more rock/techno influenced style.
  • Deadpan Snarker: There is a code that unlocks the ability for the announcer to snark at you every chance he gets.
  • Easter Egg: There's an easter egg that went undiscovered for over seven years since the game's release. By inputting a button code at the game's audio menu, you change the voices of the coaches to ones that are extremely insulting and berating no matter how good or bad you do in a race.
  • Geo Effects: The waves are random in this game, but if you know the track, you can look at the forecast to predict how they will behave with some level of reliability. Riding the waves and weather to your character's advantage is essential in the circuit mode.
  • Hostile Weather: It may sometimes feel like it. Don't count on the forecasts to be 100% accurate.
  • Jerkass: The hidden announcer. Calls you names, has absolutely no faith in you, and even if you do win he never lets up with the contempt. He can be brutally honest if you screw up.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: Many shortcuts can be found behind breakable barriers on the waterways. Which parts are breakable and which aren't is not always an easy distinction to make however.
  • Ninja Butterfly: Every racer has their own crew chief who constantly updates them on their status.
  • Nitro Boost: A turbo meter, which can be filled by correctly passing buoys or by doing stunts unlike in the game boy game where it refilled on its own and could be stolen from other racers. Stunts were only for scoring in one mode in 64.
  • Secret Level: The Tsumnami Zone.