Powerboat Racing

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a game by Interplay Productions, and VR Sports
Genre: Racing
Platforms: Playstation, PSX
Editor Rating: 6.9/10, based on 4 reviews, 6 reviews are shown
User Rating: 10.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Car Racing Games, Water Racing Games
Powerboat Racing
Powerboat Racing
Powerboat Racing

People say:


Good grief this takes the term "bad" to completely new and previously uncharted territory. What went wrong? After the stunning mediocrity of Sony's Rapid Racer I was half expecting VR Sports to learn from their mistakes. But oh no... this is worse. The graphics are atrocious. The wibbly-wobbly water tosses your inadequate-looking boat this way and that as you cruise through the terrain admiring the scenery. Or you could if the camera wasn't set in such a way that you feel like you're leaning backward and staring at the sky. The screen is made up of one quarter watery "track" and three quarters wild blue yonder. Also, this thing takes pop-up to a whole new level. Important areas of "track" are absent from view until you're right on top of them. So how am I supposed to see where I'm going? I'm staring at the sky and half the stuff is invisible until the last minute. D'oh. As far as gameplay goes, forget it. It may have nine courses and 16 different boats, but the "unique handling characteristics" mean that things vary from barely controllable to completely uncontrollable. The courses are all filled with Wave Race-style "jumps"--clearly put in to spice up the otherwise boring action--but these just make controlling your progress even more difficult. The bottom line? It sucketh. Monumentally.


Usually I'm very patient with racing games. I try to find at least a few qualities to focus in on. Unfortunately I'm really grasping here. Gameplay is just barely tolerable and gets boring very fast. The courses are Interesting, but too narrow and often confusing. But, more than anything else, the water effect just doesn't seem realistic at all. Wave Race has spoiled us all or maybe the PS just isn't capable. Either way, pass on this one.


Powerboat Racing could've, and probably would've been a very cool game if not for a few major gameplay issues that really hurt the game. The track designs are very cool, and aside from some annoying pop-up, I think the graphics are pretty good. However, the control is awful (far too sensitive--analog control would've helped a lot), and the camera angles are awkward, making it harder to see what's ahead. Bad music, too.


I've got a soft spot for original games, but in the case of Powerboat Racing, my predisposition changed quicker than it took for the Titanic to sink. The game suffers from subpar graphics (including first-generation caliber pop-up) and barely average gameplay. Cool Boarders did a much better job two years ago of taking a fairly new concept and turning it into something quite playable and enjoyable. Powerboat Racing does neither.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

When virtually every other type of sporty video game has been done, there isn't much left for a company that wants to make something new and different. This could very well be why Interplay is releasing Powerboat Racing in their VR Sports line.

The game is pretty straightforward. You control one of many powerboats, in both Monohull and Catamaran styles, on nine watery tracks. The tracks are set in major cities in different parts of the world. To throw a little action into the mix, obstacles like great white sharks, logs and floating cabs litter the waterways. Of course, the competition, whether it's the game's Al players or one of your pals, offers intense play.

As you make your way down each course, weaving in, out and around walls and tunnels, your second lap may have you stumbling from first to third place. While racing, some levels will actually change slightly in design. What was a straight-away before is now a tunnel veering off in another direction (then reconnecting with the original course).

When you make tight turns or splash down from a ramp, you might just get the feeling of really being in a boat. These sinking feelings would be due to Powerboat Racing's real physics model that calculates speed, mass, motion and resistance of your craft in the water.

VR Sports' upcoming Powerboat Racing has an interesting premise and a sparse amount of competing games to worry about. After all, there just aren't that many boatracing games out there.

Powerboat Racing looks like it'll offer more than pure racing action. The producers promise it'll pack precise physics and handling characteristics, which will simulate the way in which a speedboat reacts to the shifting waves (can you say WaveRace 64?), while still retaining some arcade elements to pump up the action. In addition, a lot of work has been put into the backgrounds surrounding each course. Animated trains, planes and automobiles will liven up the scenery of the nine courses. This could turn out to be an original and entertaining racing title, one gamers have been craving.

  • MANUFACTURER - Promethean Design
  • THEME - Racing
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2


It seems like forever ago that VR Sports announced the upcoming release of Powerboat Racing. I have been waiting and waiting for the day to come when the game was released. Well, that day has finally arrived, and in some areas it was worth the wait. In other areas, I was disappointed ... very disappointed.

Powerboat Racing has all the makings of a first-class, top-notch racer. For those of you who didn't catch my Need For Speed III review, I have recently conceded to my racing addiction. Not only do I love racing games, but I love the idea of a different type of racing game. What could be more different on the PSX than racing on water, not to mention the fact that you have up to 16 boats, 9 courses and some awesome arcade racing action? This game should have been a can't-miss.


Part of my excitement for this game was unquestionably due to the fact that you are racing boats on the water. With all the racing games on the PSX, it is amazing that this is the first to take the action to the water. The only other game that comes even close, and not very close at that, is Jet Moto. I was looking forward to the different scenarios and situations that racing on water would bring. This is one area where I was not disappointed.

First off, let's talk about the boats themselves. After unlocking the double-hulled catamarans, you have 16 boats to choose from. The boats are broken down into single-hulled or double-hulled categories, and you can play at three different difficulty classes on each. Much like car racing games, the boats have speed, acceleration and handling characteristics that make choosing the best boat for the race very important. Each boat also has a trim control that allows you to control the height of the boat's bow. The further out of the water the bow is, the faster the boat goes. With that said, I found it best to pick the fastest boat and let 'er rip.

Next, let's talk about the tracks. Next to the number of boats available, the tracks were the coolest part of this game. You had nine different tracks to race, each in a different part of the world. You could race anywhere from Norway to New York. All of the tracks were well-done and offered great variety. Jumps were abundant, and more than capable of sending you flying through the air into the horizon. You can use floating icebergs to launch your boat off on insane rocket jumps, which, although unrealistic, is still a blast. Each of the tracks has location-specific backgrounds and obstacles. For example, in New York, you will find yourself ripping between two huge docked freighters. Nothing makes you feel smaller than racing next to one of these.

Another thing that was cool, but which I did not really understand, was the weather. Don't get me wrong, I understand weather, but I don't understand why they put it in a boat racing game. I did not notice any difference in the roughness of the water or anything, so it was like the weather was put in just for fun. The snow did not affect the boat's handling the way it would in a car, but it was still cool to look at. I do have one question, though ... how can it snow when the sky is bright blue?

When it comes to the AI of the other racers, Powerboat Racing does a good job of keeping things competitive. You will almost never break out to any sort of lead. You will jump into first place, but second and third are always right on your tail. If you make any mistake, they will overtake you and not look back. You can usually regain first, but it is always a dogfight to the finish.

So far so good, right? Everything is great until you actually start a race. That is not entirely true--everything is great until you hit the first corner. Remember, I am using an analog controller which is supposed to be as smooth as it gets. Anyway, I hit the first corner and I thumbed the joystick into the corner. What happened? My boat turned so hard that I was almost pointing the opposite direction. I have no problem with precise controls, so after fighting to get my boat headed back in the right direction I decided to use less force on the next corner. As I hit the next corner, I pushed the stick with much less force. What happened? Same thing! To make a long story short, if you barely touched the turn controls you were out of control. I did get a bit better as I played more, but I never fully mastered it. You do have a button called powerslide, but it did not seem to help much either.

Another complaint I had about the game was that I never really found a good view in which to race. I hate racing from the first person perspective, which was one option. The only other option was to be right behind the boat. This was difficult because when you were racing, the bow was way up in the air, making it difficult to see over the front of the boat and thus difficult to prepare for the upcoming corners. Since you couldn't prepare for the corners, you would constantly oversteer because you could not see them until you were right on top of them. This was incredibly frustrating because it just accentuated the problems with the touch controls.


I would not call the graphics revolutionary, nor would I say that they sucked. There were some clipping and break-up problems, but they were not the worst I have ever seen. The tracks were all quite inventive, and I really enjoyed seeing the different scenery and backgrounds that came from the different parts of the world. I wish there were more racing views to choose from, because the only two that were available were not my favorites. Most racing games today offer at least three, and I think that adding the third would have made the game much more playable.

Bottom Line

Since I had such high hopes for this game, there was really only one direction to go. By no means is the game terrible or even bad, it is just difficult to get used to. Once you get control of the steering touchiness, you will do much better and start to enjoy the game more. I know we have all become spoiled by racing games with 20 different angles to choose from, but it would have been nice to have a few more in this game. If you are looking for a different type of racing game, you may want to give this one a rental. If racing is not your thing, then you will really want to stay away.

The PlayStation's never had an answer to the N64's phenomenal Wave Race 64, but Powerboat Racing might come close. This slick racer drops you behind the controls of one of 16 speedboats for rowdy, arcade-style action along 9 fantasy tracks laden with wild jumps and multiple pathways. The game delivers realistic water physics, so turbulence and other boats' wakes affect your handling. You can also sacrifice handling for speed by elevating your boat's nose out of the water, which adds some depth to the action. Still, this unfinished version was a bit tricky to handle, but VR Sports plans to clean up that and ^ the game's draw-in problems, which are worse in the two-player split-screen mode, before its release. With the right tuning, Powerboat Racing might just rock the water this spring.

No game has come close to matching the success of the N64's Wave Race on the PlayStation, and with the release of Powerboat Racing. Sony's system is still treading water. Despite its potential for glory. Powerboat springs enough small leaks that it finishes as merely a decent racing game.

Powerboat scores well on the features side, delivering a bevy of interesting play modes, two-playei split-screen action, nine inventive tracks, eight regular speedboats, and eight catamarans. But the problems begin with the controls-even after you learn to flick these sensitive boats through turns, they're still too touchy to achieve tight control.

As for gameplay, Powerboat revs up some fairly intense action. The pack is always breathing down your neck, and the races are filled with cool jumps, shortcuts that suddenly open, and hull-hammering contact.

Visually, Powerboat sports nice water effects, cool tracks, and decent boats. But excessive draw-in problems, combined with a sluggish sense of speed that's far more choppy than exhilarating, really dampen the excitement. The terrible sounds don't help matters either, fizzling with a moronic announcer, bad music, and boring in-race effects.

All told, Powerboat works fine as a poor man's Wave Race for PlayStation gamers. It's plenty fun at first, but wears thin because of the flaws in graphics and controls. We're talking rental all the way here.


  • To maintain speed when you jump, hold R1 just long enough to keep the boat's nose slightly up in the air.
  • Unless you're totally wiping out, keep the trim fully up at all times. It's the only way to go fast enough to win.
  • Hit jumps whenever you can--they're often faster than staying in the water.

Snapshots and Media

Playstation Screenshots