Someone over at Sony had their thinking cap on when they thought up Jet Moto, a cross between motorcycle racing, jet skiing, and snowmobile riding. This early Playstation racer offers up a unique, though far from perfect, game play experience by combining elements from games like Hang-On and Hydro Thunder.
You start the game off with 3 tracks available, and unlock the other 7 by competing in a grand prix-style season mode. Each race features a total of 20 riders, which is a huge number even by today’s standards. The controls take a bit of getting used to, being somewhat more complicated than your average racing game. These include leabing, rolling, and using a virtual grappling hook to whip around certain sharp turns. It definitely takes some time to get comfortable using all of these options, but thankfully a practice mode is available that allows you to race around each track sans competitors, and mastering each track on your own is essential to success in season mode.
I found Jet Moto’s comic book-like art styling to be pretty cool, and was impressed with the overall presentation of the game. The soundtrack is varied, from the Dick Dale/James Bond hybrid title screen music to the guitar rock and bluegrass-inspired tunes that play during races. For a game that came out in 1996, early in the Playstation’s life cycle, the graphics are quite impressive, and there is nary a hint of slowdown, even with a ridiculous number of racers on the screen at any one time. There is a bit more draw-in than I would have liked, though.
My only real complaint about this game is with some questionable level design. Each track is unique and has its own flavor, which is good. But while tracks that double back on themselves offer up an extra level of mayhem by creating traffic in both directions, the placement of obstacles in the middle of the track, sometimes in places where they can’t be seen until it’s too late, so that some of the tracks simply need to be memorized.
Still, I had a blast playing Jet Moto for this review and am looking forward to reviewing the sequels, and I would certainly recommend the game to anyone who hasn’t tried it. Interestingly, people started to make a big deal about in-game advertising appearing in Xbox 360 and PS3 games, but a full 10 years earlier, Jet Moto was absolutely festooned with ads for Mountain Dew, Butterfinger, and Nestlé Crunch.