Tube Slider takes a cynical view of the future.. .apparently there’s nothing better to do than race homemade jalopies in big tubes at decidedly sensible speeds. While other postapocalyptic racers, like Wipeout and F-Zero, try to entice gamers with speed, sharp controls, more speed, and possibly crazy weapons, Tube Slider doesn’t go for all that malarkey. It’s dog slow, with shallow gameplay and a whole three varieties of power-ups (two of which give you a turbo; the third is an energy boost that, uh, allows you to turbo). But hey, let’s not forget, it does have tubes. Tube Slider’s main gameplay innovation, aside from the tubes, is a tractor beam that siphons energy from racers ahead of you- it works OK and adds a bit of strategy, but it’s not worth hanging a game around. A limp techno soundtrack and the most basic array of game modes possible (Tutorial, Grand Prix, Versus, and Time Attack) round out the forgettable experience. By the way, if the future does turn out to involve tube-based racing, I think I speak for Paul and Andrew when I say we’re gonna be pissed.
Pissed is right. Tube Slider is the NASCAR of the 24th century: boring tracks, boring cars, and boring racing. My biggest problem with it is not knowing where to be on the track for maximum speed-the game obviously encourages tube sliding, so why can’t I use the whole tube? And what good is the energy-jacking system when you’re rarely close enough to someone for it to work? After experiencing the genre devolution that is Tube Slider, Sega’s new F-Zero looks even better.
Begin with Wipeout. Take away the varied terrain, all the weapons, the thumpin’ soundtrack, and its ships’ cool plasma-trail exhaust. Replace them with a turbo-stealing system that doesn’t work very well, an eye-straining mishmash of backgrounds, and A.I. drivers who behave like bellicose fratboys in a mosh pit. Just for good measure, throw in some weak techno and questionable physics. Roll the whole mess into a tube and give it a name that inspires juvenile innuendo. Congratulations, you’ve created Tube Slider.
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Simplistic gameplay and a difficult control mechanism make Tube Slider one of the more challenging, and more frustrating games that I've played lately. Built on the idea of racing high tech hover craft through a series of tubes, rather than a conventional flat track, Tube Slider isn't short on the originality of their racing concept, but they've got a few issues to contend with before this could be considered a breakaway title.
To begin with, the controls that you'll contend with should be versatile, and able to easily control the hovercraft, but prove to be challenging beyond compare. Handling your craft as it travels through the tube is a matter of deftness and luck, as two flaws rear their head. The first is the tendency for your craft, when you take a turn on the wrong wall, to spiral around the track, ultimately losing nearly all speed. Second, the slow maneuvering, paired with track impact mean that taking a jump is difficult, usually resulting in a track collision, leaving you trailing far behind your opponents.
Instead of an extensive powerup system, Tube Slider makes use of 'lock ons.'? If you can trail your opponent without colliding with him, or without losing him, you'll 'lock on'? and steal power from the enemy, which can be used to fuel your own sub verniers which are special craft components that provide booster or turbo power. While lock on is pretty difficult to use, and frustrating should it be used on your own craft, this is ultimately a good gameplay improvement, in my opinion. The choice between two speed enhancements is also a good one. Turbo functions like a traditional booster (the longer you hold it down the more acceleration you get) and Booster Cycles which saves up to three full charges, give you a quick speed boost once used.
Graphically, I've got nothing to complain about. The tracks can get a little mundane, but it's obvious from the opening race screens that there's a ton of detail packed into every frame. With unique ship designs and not-too-ostentatious effects, I thought Tube Slider was gorgeous.
Ultimately though, each racing title needs to stand on the strength of it's racing, and to some extent, its competition mode. The competitors in Tube Slider are brutal and extremely difficult to beat. Racing using these controls is nigh impossible at first and takes a while to get used to, resulting in an unappetizing first course of gameplay. Finally, and most disappointing, with no room to upgrade ships, and only an alternate 'maximum'? gameplay (unlocked after you progress through normal mode), there's a great deal of repetition to be had. And with tracks that aren't all that captivating, even the beauty of their ship design doesn't offset the dull gameplay.