There's a lack of surfing games on the App Store, particularly ones that let players explore outer space while collecting tasty-looking pieces of cake. At least on the positive side, Bean's Quest developer Kumobius filled the void with Time Surfer, a trippy and loving homage to retro gaming that not only drips with nostalgia, but also features engaging and addictive play.
If you played Andreas Illiger's iPhone and iPad hit, Tiny Wings, then you already have a firm grasp of the controls; if you didn't, no worries, as Time Surfer only takes a couple minutes to get the hang of. The basic concept involves propelling the character through the cosmos by taking advantage of dips within the terrain that act as launch pads, allowing the surfer to build momentum. This means pressing the right side of the screen at just the right moments to make him dive while also paying attention to various hazards along the way, things like floating spikes, aliens and rocks (best to land on top of them) and most importantly, pits that spell certain doom.
Where the game separates itself (one of several things, really) is the rewind mechanic. Collecting gems fills the Time Power meter, where tapping the left side of the screen lets you cheat death by rewinding, thus allowing you to take a different approach. This mechanic works exceptionally well, cutting down on cheap deaths that would otherwise mar the experience.
Ah, and what a bizarre experience it is. The 8-bit/16-bit style graphics showcase weird alien worlds, weird trees and other trippy images in the background. This extends to the shop, AKA the Time Capsule, which includes a variety of stuff to purchase with cake, like the Samurai and Platinum Surfer costumes, 80s' Future Car, Terminator 2 inspired Future Assassin and cool special effects, one of our personal favorites being the Rainbauer that leaves behind a rainbow trail as you surf. Cake is relatively difficult to come by, especially if you continuously spend the precious virtual currency on game-changing pets (a rubber duck that saves you from one pit, a rock bug that protects against spikes, to name a couple), but you'll still have plenty of fun without unlocking stuff or making an in-app purchase.
This is in large part to the intensity and unpredictability of the game. Not only are you out to fill your pockets with cake and achieve a high score, but also avoid the destructive end of the universe that, similar to nighttime in Tiny Wings, is in endless pursuit.
Factor in some catchy music, and Time Surfer is one heck of a satisfying package. These are the types of simple and addictive games we play for hours on end throughout any given year, and that being the case, we hope it finds a hungry audience that can't resist one more slice.
Review code provided by Kumobius.
What's Hot:Builds off Tiny Wings' formula with the inclusion of rewind, out-of-this-world visuals with complimentary music, plenty of goodies to buy, intense action.
What's Not:Cake is hard to come by without in-app purchases.