The Human Condition (6): The Modern Age

Aquadelic GT

Aq_reverse_angle This is a new boat racing game, made in the style of a kart-racer - simple to learn, but challenging to beat. The game is Aquadelic GT, by the Czech Republic studio Hammerware under the Arcade Moon imprint of our Slovakian friends 3D People and published in Europe by JoWood. My team at International Hobo has been helping them out on the design and script, and the finished game should be on sale shortly.

The game has been quietly coming together in the background, and as if from nowhere we were suddenly delivered a master candidate (the last versions of a game before it goes into production) which we've been frantically playing for the last few days. There are a few rough edges, but I've been having a blast with this game - the most fun I've had with boats in a videogame since Wave Race 64 - and that was fifteen years ago. It's hard to believe this was put together on such a modest budget.

Aq_fight There are a few interesting things to note in the design. Following the latest trend in "embedded menus", we did away with a menu structure for tying together the main play, and instead placed the player directly into the world. So you begin with your little rusty bucket in Russia, and can run people around as a taxi for cash, or get started on your racing career by going to one of the race sites. By making "free ride" the main game mode (racing being accessed from this), we allow new players ample opportunity to practice controlling the boats, and to learn the layout of the areas as well. It's a small thing, but it was worth the extra effort.

The racing gets quite frantic! The weapons are a good mix, and satisfying to use. The physics in the game means that hitting someone with an exploding frog or a shark torpedo can send them rocketing off to nowhere, but the player can always tap "R" to respot themselves if they end up somewhere inconvenient. It starts easy, but gets much harder as the game goes on. Finishing was a challenge, but it must be said that the final boat outclasses everything, so players who struggle can keep saving their money until they can afford the ultimate vessel.

Aq_at_home_in_greece Since the player is free to move around the world between races, there are also other activities beyond racing, including running taxi rides, going on a yacht cruise for coins, and dropping humanitarian aid from a seaplane. I had great fun with these too! Although there is little money to be made from the yacht, the environments are so beautiful that I found it was satisfying just to pilot my way around the islands. Quite relaxing. The player can also buy houses in some of the locations - there is a gorgeous villa in one of the Greek ports which I fell in love with (pictured left, in the right of the background), although my million dollar mansion in the Caribbean is also quite appealing.

The official Aquadelic GT site is here, and my web album for the game is here. It will be available in Europe very shortly, for PC only.


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That sounds like a blast! Getting rid of menus in games like this is a great move.

I've got to say that getting rid of menus is only a good idea if the "menu world" is sufficiently compelling in its own right. I don't want to have to spend five minutes going somewhere just to play the game mode I like -- unless it's like GTA 3, an getting there is half the fun!

So the "embedded menus" is an interesting design decision, but like everything else, it needs to be done right in order to be worth it.

None of this is to knock the game in question -- it's not like I've played it yet! :-)

Ethan: you're right of course - getting rid of the menus is a pain if it just slows down your access to everything.

I can't speak for everyone, but I really enjoyed dashing around the "free ride" world between races, going to different places to buy new boats or upgrades. It's definitely part of the charm of this game, although the locations are not as sophisticated as in a GTA game, of course.

Best wishes!

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