A surfer has just found the gnarliest wave ever, but darn it all if an endless school of sharks hasn’t popped up to spoil the tubular ride of a lifetime! Now this Surfin’ Dude (Out Now, $.99) hangs in the balance; will he go on to be a surfing champ or wipe out and get a bite taken out of him? This simple infinite sidescroller from Violet Studio could easily drown in equally cute and equally rock-bottom-price competition, but it does stand out for excellent accelerometer controls that are a cut above.
Surfin’ Dude brings little new to the endless sidescroller genre. Naturally the player’s goal is to achieve as high a score as possible via distance traveled before wiping out and collecting bonus items along the way; there’s no Game Center or OpenFeint integration here, Violet Studio instead relying on an internal leaderboard. How far the Dude can surf in any one attempt depends on how long he maintains enough speed to outrun the giant wave trailing him. Failing to maneuver around or jump over sharks decreases his speed, but the Dude will recover on his own if the player can leave him uncontrolled for a short period. That’s easier said than done, as it requires quickly recognizing and taking advantage of precious lulls in the constant stream of sharks.
Players are able to thread their way through columns of sharks with ease, not because Surfin’ Dude doesn’t contain the genre’s traditional ramp-up in challenge but for precisely the right reason: this one’s got the most perfectly calibrated tilt controls of any iOS game I’ve played so far. It helps that the iDevice accelerometer detects movement along a single axis here and that the player may orient that axis to taste at the beginning of each attempt. While it might lack the gameplay depth or new twists needed to reel in jaded genre veterans, Surfin’ Dude nevertheless stands as an example worth emulating in the user interface department.
Its rich, cartoony hand-drawn graphics and lighthearted surf culture music would have stood out on iOS a few years ago, but nowadays Surfin’ Dude‘s aesthetics – much like its gameplay – merely blend in with the competition in such a highly crystallized genre. A mysterious Story Mode appears to be waiting in the wings, so updates could still bring Surfin’ Dude the extra oomph it needs to truly ride the iOS wave.
iFanzine Verdict: Surfin’ Dude may not bring much new to the table of infinite sidescrollers, but its natural-feeling tilt controls are a standout feature to anyone just getting into the genre or diehards who are looking for that next endless high score challenge on the cheap.