Wakeboarding HD Preview
The PlayStation Network has provided us with multiple gems over the past few years, including Wipeout HD, echochrome, Flower, Shatter and Fat Princess. TikGames and Creat Studios have also tossed up a few entertaining titles as the likes of Magic Orbz (originally released as Magic Ball) turned out to be simple, appealing and oddly addictive. That’s exactly what we’re hoping for in regards to their latest, Wakeboarding HD, which is primed and ready to hit the PSN this week. You’ll be zinging around in the “wake” of a speedboat, claiming hidden collectibles, racking up points, and stringing together combo multipliers. Obviously, it’s not supposed to be authentic – not many downloadable titles embrace the concept of realism – and that should be half the fun. The question is, will it boast solid controls and enough replay value to keep us coming back for more? Let’s take a look before Thursday gets here.
As you might expect, you won’t have to be memorizing a complex button configuration for Wakeboarding HD; in fact, the basic movement all comes down to the left and right analog sticks and the L2 and R2 buttons. The left analog handles your intended direction (duh) while the right determines the sort of tricks you will execute when in mid-air. The L2 and R2 trigger buttons will allow you to cut to the left or to the right respectively, so this appears easily learned and mastered. Now, you will also use the face buttons when preparing for a jump/trick; according to some hands-on game secured by IGN and other sources at this year’s Game Developers Conference, it’s all about “prepping” the jump. So in other words, pressing X, Square, Circle, or Triangle will result in the kind of stunt you will attempt, and then utilizing the right analog when in the air will finish the trick. But here’s the cool part: you won’t always need a ramp to catch some air and really start flying…
Because the wake created by the boat causes large waves, you can leap off the crests of those waves in order to generate enough height for certain tricks. Therefore, this means that almost the entire time you’re riding; you should have the opportunity to attempt something special. Of course, the ramps will be there as well, but you’re going to have to be on the lookout for hazards. These stumbling blocks can take the form of exploding mines hovering in the water, immovable obstacles, or even bloodthirsty sharks that would just love a little snack. As you can see by one of the screenshots, there’s a giant Jaws-like creature all ready to swallow a wakeboarder, and the word “dodge” is on the screen. So clearly, there will be times when you have to react quickly and press a corresponding button to escape particular dangers. The combination of these hazards, crazy stunts, and items to snag should make for a fairly robust and entertaining experience. As for longevity, we can only guess but hey, at least there’s a world map.
That’s right, you will move through the game with the help of this world map, which highlights the boarding hotspots and on top of which, each area presents you with several challenges. Not only will you have a primary objective – which you’ll need to complete in order to advance – but there will also be a number of optional tasks that will likely prove to be more difficult. For instance, keeping a combo chain going throughout one entire level could be an optional challenge. It will depend on how long it takes to complete any given level, how tough those levels will get, and of course, how many of them there are; that will ultimately dictate the game’s replay value. Will you keep coming back to it after spending your $14.99? Well, we’d certainly like to think so and for the record, the screens and media we’ve seen has been pretty impressive for a downloadable title. The water looks great and the colors are vibrant so the atmosphere should be pleasant. Here’s hoping the rest of it comes together.
3/22/2010 Ben Dutka