VR Sports Powerboat Racing
Three! Two! One! GO! And you’re off… Hit the throttle and raise the trim and you’ll wonder if you’re boating or flying as you pick up speed on the no longer still water of these international racetracks. VR Sports Powerboat Racing is an arcade-style boat racing simulation that provides plenty of chills and spills (literally) as you race around different cities and regions of the world on eight different tracks, including New York, Monaco, England, and even the Amazon jungle. You’ll have several different challenges to overcome using sixteen different boats with several difficulty levels if you want to master this game.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
While this game doesn’t require any type of joystick, steering wheel or game pad, it does recommend using a steering wheel and pedal setup. I played this with a Microsoft SideWinder 3D joystick and found the controls to be extremely touchy. Since I have never actually piloted a powerboat, I really can’t say if this is true to life or not. If you over-steer just a little, you’ll probably end up in a wall or going in reverse. After playing a while, you may get the hang of this if you have surgeon’s hands. Since I do not, I ended up using both hands on the stick (one to control, one to steady) and was able to keep the vehicles under control. This game is a challenge, but to really master it, you must learn to use the boat’s trim to maintain your speed (as there are no brakes in boating), steering, and avoid playing submarine after jumps.
Also don’t get too comfortable when you think you finally have the track memorized; something is likely to happen and you’ll be forced to use a detour. You also have the capability of switching between third person, just behind and to the side of the driver, and first person views. If you are worried about smashing up your boat before you get around the first corner, don’t -- there is no damage whatsoever in this game. I found this unrealistic and disappointing especially since the box plugs this as the most realistic powerboat game ever made. There are two classes of boats: monohull and catamaran. The monohulls aren’t as fast as the catamarans, but they are quite a bit easier to command. Each of the sixteen different boats (eight monohulls, eight catamarans) have different accelerations and top speeds. There are two types of skills (number of tracks in the race and laps per track), which are divided into three levels each. There are also different types or races: Arcade (race to win), Shootout (boat in last place at the end of a lap is ousted), Time Trial (set a time, then race your own shadow in an effort to beat it), Challenge (two laps to beat your single opponent), and Practice. As you win certain races, you will gain access to faster boats, passwords that enable different types of races, such as the championship and slalom, and cheat codes. Up to six people can race at a time over an IPX network. If that isn’t available, you and up to three close buddies can get together on the same two- or four-way split screen. Only two players may use the keyboard in this situation -- the others must use some type of game controller.
This is the key feature that is going to make or break this game. The system requirements for this game do not specify that a 3D accelerator card is required and, technically, I suppose that is true. When I first received this game, I had no 3D accelerator card so the graphics were absolutely appalling -- it reminded me of the good old days of EGA graphics. There is a so-called effect of the sun’s glare that totally blocks your view of the track. Fortunately, this can be disabled. Also, the game ran choppy on my Pentium 233 MMX with 64 MB of RAM, even when setting the graphics to the lowest detail. After ranting and raving, I tested this game on my friend’s 166 with a Matrox Mystique 4 MB combo card and saw the potential of what a 3D chip can do. I then invested in an Orchid Righteous 3D with the Voodoo chip and let me tell you, it was like Dorothy opening the door to Oz: this game looked absolutely beautiful. The sun effect was real enough that I was afraid of blinding myself, and the reflections of the objects on shore made even the polluted waterways of New York look inviting. There are also options for enabling weather, which, while it doesn’t seem to affect the gameplay too much itself, look great and add some spice to the game.
The sound effects and music are good. You’ll get the standard engine and water splashing sounds and thuds when hitting a wall or another boat. The announcer will let you know when you’ve beat a lap time, how many laps remain in the race, and will throw in his two cents worth when you embarrass yourself by submerging after a jump. This game contains a dance music soundtrack that will sometimes start with the race, fade in halfway through other races, and partially annoy you with the repetitive singing. The songs are user selectable (if enabled in the options) before a race. All the sounds can be disabled in the options menu if desired.
Pentium 120MHz or higher, Windows 95 with DirectX 5.0 or newer (included on disc), 16 MB RAM, 130 MB hard drive space, 2X CD-ROM drive or faster, DirectX certified sound card, 1 MB DirectX certified video card, 100 percent Windows 95 compatible keyboard and mouse. 100 percent Windows 95 compatible joystick or steering wheel (recommended).
Game recommendations (from manual): Steering wheel and pedal setup
Reviewer’s recommendations: Don’t even bother with this game until you have invested in a good 3D accelerator card or a combo video card that supports the 3D effects really well.
This comes in the form of "VR Sports Powerboat Racing Magazine." It is 23 pages of tips, tricks, reader’s letters, racetracks, and game instructions (which are simple and straightforward). For an instruction manual, it is actually quite entertaining and does contain some helpful hints for playing this game. If you never read documentation, you may want to change your ways -- who knows, you might even learn something…
This game is very similar to the VR-style racing games you see these days in the arcade -- in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to end up finding this in an arcade at some point. Despite no damage and touchy controls, this game is a blast and is sure to please anyone that is into arcade style racing games and even some that aren’t, due to its incredible 3D eye candy -- if you have a 3D card.
Download VR Sports Powerboat Racing
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP