Do you remember that feeling in Wave Race 64 of pure, unadulterated joy when you took a jump and smashed into the water? Well, there’s a new jetski-based racer on the block looking to capture that same magic: enter Riptide GP: Renegade for the Nintendo Switch. The idea is simple: set in a futuristic city, you take the form of a hydrojet racer and splash through multiple modes, including career. You can complete different types of races throughout your career, ultimately looking to race your way back to the top. Can it deliver, or does it leave us in its own wake?
The story here is your pretty standard riches-to-rags-to-riches idea: you were an up-and-coming racer in the GP Circuit, but a quick stint competing in an illegal race earns you 2 years in jail. That race was setup by your rival Krex, who framed you. Once released, the task is to make it back to the top in the GP community, earning back your reputation, while gunning for Krex as he now wears the crown. The story didn’t need to be here, but it’s always nice to see an attempt. There are three separate difficulties in the single player campaign story, with each level featuring 31 races in all.
In a racer you race, and Riptide GP: Renegade is no different. The game runs super smooth, and I never found any cause for concern in the performance department. You have the option to compete in the career mode, quick race, online, or split screen, all featuring a variety of racing modes: slalom, time trial, stunt, elimination, or the standard circuit-style. While racing, you have the option to complete tricks off of jumps and flat tops in order to build up your boost meter. The tricks are fun, and definitely look cool when you’re super high up, plus they are a key cog in building up your boost meter.
The modes feel distinctively different, and being able to upgrade and customize your hydrojet further enhances this fact. Some of the best entertainment, though, is had in the four-player split screen races. It’s always a plus to have local co-op in games, and Renegade delivers on this front. The game sacrifices visual performance to effectively run a full four-player race, but it works. A quick note on controls: Renegade isn’t reinventing the way to play, rather refining what we have. All the controls feel tight and work as required, with no hiccups.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
For a $10 arcade-style racer, Vector Unit deserves massive marks for the job they did. Sure, it won’t win any “visuals-of-the-year” contests, but everything really looks good. Character models are unique, the hydrojets are unique, the courses are unique. Sensing a theme here? Indeed, the game looks good and feels more meaty than a standard budget title. There could be more in the world, but what I saw is what I’d expect from a small-budget studio. Oh, and we haven’t talked water yet. Yet again, the value here seems incredible, with the water physics feeling top notch, with the water effects following close behind. On the flip side, the sound effects seem pretty accurate to me, though I have no experience in the hydrojet racing field. The themed music all feels at home, and water splashes are solid. The menus even feature different music for the different areas, a neat touch.
If all that sounded fun to you, then I have good news: Riptide GP: Renegade is an enjoyable water-racer. The water physics look fantastic, racing is smooth, and being able to customize a hydrojet just sounds cool. All that said, the mundane story isn’t much to grasp on, and it isn’t something I would play hours on end, plus the music can get tiresome and there isn’t a real tutorial. But guess what? That doesn’t matter, as this game is a blast. Move over Wave Race 64, Riptide GP: Renegade is the new kid on the block and keeps the jetski-based racing genre alive. Even at the current $9.99 price tag, it gets the Nintendeal seal of approval. If anyone would like to test their skills online, just let us know—we’d be happy to race!
Caleb has been a gamer and Nintendo fan since picking up Pokémon Red for his Game Boy back in 1998, at the wee age of 4. He’s an avid Pokémon TCG collector, and is currently enjoying Breath of the Wild on Switch, along with PUBG on Xbox. He’s a fan of the outdoors when not writing, while also being an avid runner and world traveler. Give him a shout if you’re a fan of Arsenal FC.
Plays: Switch, 3DS, Xbox One, Pokémon TCG, and Various Board Games.