Summer’s nearly over, and most of us have said farewell to the beach for the year. Fortunately, though, you still have an outlet for your surfing skills – Billabong Surf Trip for iPad, the new surfing action game from Chillingo. You can ride tubes, hang ten, and survive wipe-outs.
While initially setting up Billabong Surf Trip, you choose a surfer and customize their appearance, and then you are introduced to your mentors – the Billabong Team, which consists of four pro surfers. Each level of the game takes place in a well-known international surfing hot-spot.
At the beginning of a level, you’ll see facts about the location displayed at the bottom of your screen, and one of the Billabong pro team will explain what you have to do to get through that level. The game graphics are rendered pretty well, and the ocean’s movement, the rise and fall and swells, are quite realistic. The animation of the surfers is pretty good, though they seem a bit indistinguishable.
When each ride is over, you’ll hear the cheers of enthusiastic spectators on the beach – although they’re pretty easily impressed; it doesn’t take much to raise a cheer. The realism is good enough that sometimes you feel like you’re watching a surfing video rather than playing a game. There are often underwater views, and whenever someone catches a wave you see their pop up in slow motion, then the viewpoint spins around to a different angle. As a result the game seems as much like entertainment as a competition.
In the game, you’ll find eighteen true-to-life tricks of surfing that can be achieved by a combination of movement patterns. They’re not that difficult; the trickiest part is the timing. To get through each level, you have to complete all the maneuvers within a certain time. You can raise your score by performing extra tricks, earning really high points – these can be exchanged for new swimsuits or boards. You can switch to Surf Spots mode if you want to just enjoy the waves for awhile without being clocked, or to Free Play if you want to spend some time practicing tricks.
Billabong Surf Trip for iPad3 has all the qualities of a great sports game: it’s challenging, compelling and well-made. What really sets it apart, though, is that it also manages to truly capture the feel of surf culture – from the Zen feeling of waiting out at sea for the perfect wave, to the sublime, rock soundtrack. Overall, Billabong Surf Trip proves to be an enjoyable, realistic surfing experience.