I'm beginning to think I purchase too many games based on how goofy their name is. Even with the goofy name, I knew pretty much what I was getting in to when I got Eliminator Boat Duel. If you're playing a boat racing game on NES, you're probably playing some sort of top-down, Micro Machines-like affair. A bit of coincidence, this game was published by Electro Brain, the company responsible for the game inthe previous post, though it was actually developed by Sculptured Software, the makers of Metal Mech.
I wasn't entirely wrong in my guess about it being a top-down racing, but there is a bit more to it. The racing is actually split between three different viewpoints. At the beginning of the race it is set in at a side-view, which is only used to make sure you don't jump the gun before the girl waves the start flags and at the end of a race to see which boat is definitively in the lead. The other two viewpoints, which are chosen between based on the current level of curvaceousness in the track, are the typical top-down and the less typical, but still often used, behind-the-vehicle view.
The racing is simple enough. You have to dodge obstacles on the track, hit ramps, pick up boosts, and use boosts at opportune moments. In case being called Eliminator Boat Duel wasn't an obvious tip off, I should mention that the game is entirely one on one, against a CPU opponent or a second player. What is interesting about the game is that it has something of a story, where you are racing against a bitter rival, which is different depending on which difficulty level you play on. The normal level rival is this guy that looks like Guile if he had a stroke.
The most interesting thing about this game is the system of money and upgrades. Each race will leave the winner with a bunch of cash, and the loser with only a little. The cash is used to upgrade and repair your boat. This is a big incentive to win because the opponent also spends their winnings on upgrades for their boat, so if they win a lot you'll be left in the dust as the tracks get harder. There isn't a whole lot of strategy to this, but at least makes progressing in the game feel a bit more fun. I wonder if the Road Rash series owes any inspiration to this game? I guess it is possible that there were other racing games that used this sort of system.
Eliminator Boat Duel isn't a particularly good game in any way, but it's not bad either. It was at least worth the dollar I paid for it, if only to see the weird character art. The graphics are fine, the music is okay, the controls are usable, and it runs well. The most disappointing thing about the game is that it is more about the boat duel than it is about the eliminating. It could have had some sort of shooting of machine guns or torpedoes, but it is still serviceable.