They are not quite boats, they are not quite motorcycles, hell, they're not even jet skis really. They are a new invention known as Jet Motos, a jet propelled hover bike that can go on just about any terrain from ice to gravel to lava, and are so popular that they can span 3 games. These bikes are not a new concept by any means. Hover racing is something that dates back to F-Zero on the modern systems and has the likes of Wipeout and many other less than spectacular games to add to its growing genre. However the Jet Moto series is different because it takes this concept and tries to make it as realistic as possible.
Since the bikes are not hampered by the need to touch the ground they can go anywhere. This makes for some interesting level design. In the latest installment the developers take a turn away from the nature-like and water-based courses and put the bikes such places as a subway, a forest and even in an alien landscape. Originally when I heard about this game I thought, "What more can they put in?" After all I had played through the previous two games and thought I saw just about everything. I have to say though that I was surprised. The levels intrigued me and, for the most part, were very non-cliché. Plus there is a lot of eye candy and shortcuts.
Now as much as the series has tried to tout realistic physics and control, I just have to say that there is no physical equation for a hovering jet bike. THEY DO NOT EXIST. The designers have taken the physics of very similar vehicles like jet skis and motorcycles, but in the end when you are driving on a canyon wall at 120 MPH there is very little simulation. That is until you smash into a ledge. Then reality sets in as you go careening down a chasm. As far as control goes, the physics that they have come up with demand precise control. The bikes are very delicate and have all kinds of different factors that you must control at every turn. There is definitely a large learning curve for control unless you have tons of Jet Moto experience.
One new feature for this installment is the addition of a jump button. This pushes a jet boost underneath the bike to give it a lift. This is very helpful for avoiding those obstacles that just pop up out of nowhere. Plus no more will you have to rely solely on your speed getting you to those hard to reach places. There is also the absence of the lean, which was the control that moved the rider without moving the bike. Now the same control that helps in turns is also the one that flips the bike to the side in the air.
There are some definite problems with this installment, however. Most of them have to do with controlling the bike. Whereas there are a lot less places to bite it in JM3 there are still some very tricky paths that seem unnecessarily hard. The bikes handle better in comparison to the other games but they do bounce around an awful lot. Another problem, which is more of a pet peeve, is the fact that you have to race all of the novice courses in every tournament. When I finish them, I want to be finished with them, but as soon as I enter the Semi-Pro tourney they are there. And when I enter the Pro bout, they're there again along with the Semi-Pro courses. It makes one despise the courses for having to race them over and over again especially when one wants to see the new courses earned.
If you have never played a Jet Moto game before then you will be fine starting with this one. The game is different enough from the others and it does not assume any prior experience (unlike the second one, which was far harder than the first). If you think that there could be nothing new in the world of Jet Moto then I invite you to check this out. It was made with a different feel than the first two. Emphasis is on speed and collision instead of on precision and perfect timing. I have to say that I was expecting another hack sequel that did not offer anything new in the way of play, but Jet Moto 3 has proved me wrong. It is a great sequel in a great series and I really enjoyed playing it. I felt like I was on a trackless roller coaster and you can't ask for much more than that.
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