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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Extreme Sports

 

Publisher

Infogrames

 

Developer

Atari/Angel Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

November 2001

 

 

- More than an attempt at a Tony Hawk clone

- Graphics are “fluid”

- Easy to get into, hard to master

- Fun and relaxing

- Moderately addictive

 

 

- Not very intuitive

- Some might find action repetitive

- Point system is unforgiving

 

 

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Transworld Surf

Score: 8.0 / 10

To my knowledge, surfing games haven’t been showcased to great extent. (At least with success: Surf Riders, Sunny Garcia Surfing, ugh!)  My last heavy exposure was the surfing event in California Games on my old XT. (Ah, those were the days – hard drives were new and CGA, although not as good as EGA, still brought the house down.)  Transworld Surf (TS) arrived on my desk and my first thought was a groaning, “Great, Tony Hawk on water.”  Well, I’ll admit that I was totally wrong. (Besides, didn’t a bored surfer invent the skateboard?)

 

transworld-surf-1.jpg (25054 bytes)   transworld-surf-2.jpg (24423 bytes)   transworld-surf-3.jpg (28754 bytes)

 

TS is all about catching the perfect wave – carving up the water, snap turning, shooting through the barrel, and maybe performing some aerial maneuvers (or "airs").  It all takes some getting used to if you’ve mastered Tony Hawk – get your mind around this early: This is not a skateboarding game.

 

The graphics seem plain, but that’s what’s so good about them.  TS does a fantastic job of emulating real surfing conditions, whatever the time of day.  The waves are convincing – from the comparatively small waves of the first few levels to the really big ones later on.  While the levels themselves don’t differ much – they’re all water based – the locations are from all over the world.  Some of the levels provide obstacles like pilings (Huntington Beach), but for the most part it’s simply surfing from one end of the wave to the other.

 

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Each level has goals to be completed before you can move onto the next.  Some of these goals can be a real pain.  Most frustrating for me was the first level (in Championship mode).  One of the goals is to rescue eight dolphins from tuna nets (by surfing over them).  The dolphins are freakin’ hard to find!  The problem with the ocean is that it’s very big with not many landmarks to go by, so you can’t really think, “Dolphin 4 is beside the outcropping right there.”  Not helping the matter was the gameplay view.  The view facilitates the 

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surfing portion perfectly but spotting the tuna nets borders on luck more than anything else. (Of course, then you notice the pattern...)  Another stumbling block is how the points are awarded.  Everything you do is awarded some kind of point value, even if you’re just going up and down the height of the wave.  It all goes toward a combo score, which you can watch build at the bottom left of the screen.  However, if you wipeout you lose it all (or don't do anything for a while and it's added to your point total).  You could be near the tail end of a wave and have 12,000 points possible only to screw up and get nothing.  This makes it hard to get the point totals required to move on.  It does build tension though.  This usually turns to frustration as you try “just one more turn,” instead of dismounting.  Of course, when it all comes together, it’s a rush.  Other objectives include having “action” pictures taken and performing specific moves.

 

Practicing in the Free Surf mode is essential (and quite relaxing).  It also gives you three beaches to try out instead of one at a time in Championship mode.

 

Performing tricks are harder to do than in THPS.  It takes more finesse and timing.  Mashing the buttons won’t get you anywhere.  The controls are solid even though there is a learning curve.  Even standing up on the board at the right moment is essential.  The tricks available are varied, more so when you factor in the Trick and Karma meters.

 

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The Karma meter is basically your opportunity to score big points when it’s filled up to “Good.”  The meter is affected by your behavior on the waves.  Smashing into other surfers adds to your “Bad” karma, but saving sea creatures sends karma into the “Good” zone.  What really annoyed me was that a computer AI surfer can plough into you and you take a hit to your karma and wipeout while he surfs away. (There are a few multiplayer options but the best is King of the Wave -- basically King of the Hill on water.  Some good fun to have with a friend.)

 

After wiping out, getting to the next wave can be done a couple of ways.  Paddling out to meet the wave, which takes a long time to do, or calling the Reef Girl to pick you up on her Sea-doo.  In Championship mode, calling the reef girl is much faster (you’ve got three minutes per run) and easier because she drops you off right in front of the wave.  When you call the Reef Girl you choose which wave you want to attempt – from the ones labeled “normal” to “hazardous.”

 

Hardcore surfer types and readers of Transworld Surf magazine will probably appreciate the number of clips and ads included on the disc.  There’s some pretty insane surfing going on!  The hardcore crowd will also appreciate that all the surfers are based on real-life people.  To the casual gamer, the names will mean nothing and instead choose a surfer with the stats they like.  And they won’t necessarily understand the pros and cons of the different boards available – I know I didn’t but I did notice a difference in handling.  The soundtrack is all brand name stuff and most of it suits the action like a glove.  But after a really rough day at the office, flipping off the music and just hearing the sounds of the waves is relaxing.

 

Transworld Surf is fun most times, relaxing almost all the time, and frustrating on occasion.  Some might find that surfing one wave is just like surfing another, with monotony quickly setting in.  I found the challenge to be good except for the occasional level objective that took forever to finish, and that the moves require more skill than usual (with a point system that will either set you free or make you eat sand).  Helping all this is the water effects and great sound.  Transworld Surf is worth checking out.

 

- Omni

 

(December 27, 2001)

 

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