The release of Super Mario Bros. Wii at E3 this year is clear proof that the 2D side-scrolling platformer is alive and well. Actually, the aforementioned game genre is one of our favorites here at AppSmile.com. That’s why we were thrilled at the release of Bionic Surfer into the App Store. And we wanted to give you a look and this new offering from Robert Casperson.
Marketed as a action/adventure title, Bionic Surfer brings gamers into the role of a Amnesia-ridden wave-rider-dude in an all out battle to save earth and its neighboring planets. The enemy? Invading armies of insectiod aliens that are as ugly as they are fierce. But fear not -- this surfer hero is packin’ some serious heat. That’s right; weapons are collected throughout the game and can be swapped out at any time. Stocked with a variety of weapons from lasers to blasters to antigravity lifters (used to rearrange obstacles), the arsenal is always a finger tap away. Use it to fight your way through four areas on each of five planets (for a total of 20 areas in all). Each planet features a World Boss that must be defeated to progress.
So why does our hero in board-shorts have no memory? Well, the simple answer is we don’t know. Actually, this is a clever aspect to Bionic Surfer. Players learn about the character’s past as he does. The game begins with an unidentified general waking the surfer up on earth. Immediately the battle is on without time for our hero to ask questions. As gameplay progresses, however, details are revealed that point to why Bionic Surfer dude has no recollection of his past and why he has mean alien blasting skills. The story continues to unfold within each world.
Controls are explained right from the get go in Earth Area 1. All movement is touch activated. A left and right d-pad is located on the left while Jump, Activate, and Weapon selection are on the right of the screen. The Activate button accomplishes multiple tasks -- from activating jump plates, triggering local and global teleports, or simply discovering facts at information stations. Ideally we would like to see Bionic Surfer moveable through the accelerometer with tap to jump on the left on tap to fire on the right. We hope to see this in a future update.
Graphics are stellar and truly resemble big-name developer quality. Animations are lively with the ragdoll-like physics that keep creeping up in more and more iPhone games. The pre-packaged in-game soundtrack fits the visual excitement perfectly. Sound effects are all there including enemy’s audible reactions and the classic (expected) “ugh” upon our hero’s defeat. The UI is polished and intuitive with options to adjust sound effects and music. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that up to three individual games can be saved and restored. An overworld would be a nice addition for an update although this is not a glaring discrepancy.
All in all, Bionic Surfer is another example of a “hidden gem” in the App Store. Currently it’s on sale for $0.99. If you’re fond of the side-scrolling genre, Bionic Surfer is a wave you’ll want to catch.
Bionic Surfer gets our AppSmile 5-Dimple rating: