Makes a Splash!
While thanks to likes of the Tony Hawk franchise skating games have enjoyed an illustrious enough career on various consoles over the years, the sports’ water based equivalent, surfing, has never quite reached the same dizzying highs.
Which in turn might have something to do with the sparsity of surfing games on the App Store. Until now that is…
Billabong Surf Trip (out now, $2.99) brought to us by the gnarly dudes at Biodroid Entertainment and Chillingo makes a commendable stab at recreating the thrills and spills of surfing on your iPhone, and bridging the gap between the realism of a po-faced simulation and OTT arcade action while it’s at it.
Now, I’ll be honest, when it comes to surfing, I’ve never so much as gotten my toes wet, nor am I much of a buff when it comes to the sport. Resultantly much of BST’s authenticity – including a roster of Billabong surf pros and 18 real-life tricks – was wasted on me. What I definitely could appreciate though was this title’s high production values, convincing character animations, and realistic water effects.
At the outset of the game’s career mode, you’re given the chance to customize your surfer chick or dude to your own specifications, tweaking their face, hair color and outfits. More boards and threads of course become available as the game goes on.
Before you paddle out into the water for the first time, a fairly in-depth tutorial takes you through the basics, which is handy because BST has quite a steep learning curve. Dual-sticks take care of movement and the majority of tricks, while tilt controls kick in at key moments, such as when you attempt to “ride a tube” …hope I’m getting the lingo correct!
Levels consist of executing a set number of tricks against the clock. In a neat move, it’s possible to either paddle around scanning the horizon for the next surge, or to tap on a floating directional arrow and be transported instantly to a wave.
As mentioned, Billabong Surf Trip isn’t the most straightforward game to get the hang of, but thankfully the developer’s have seen fit to include a trick list which is always accessible from the pause menu. And with a bit of perseverance, it wont be long before you’re riding those waves like a pro!
Environments you unlock in career mode then become playable in “Free Surf”, which, as the name suggests, allows you hit beaches and hone your surfing skills at your own pace. The game also comes loaded Crystal and Game Center extras, meaning there’s plenty of achievements to be tackled and leaderboards to climb.
Overall, while it’s no Tony Hawk, Billabong Surf Trip is an impressive attempt at bringing a realistic surf sim to iPhone.
iFanzine Verdict: Once you’ve mastered its learning curve, Billabong Surf Trip offers up a thrilling blend of realistic simulation and all out arcade action. Perfect for both quick bursts and longer gaming sessions. Recommendable whether you’re a surf nut or not!