Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Chain surfing? "It must be fictional," I thought as installed the app onto my iPhone. A quick search on YouTube, however, showed me that this is actually a thing - people balance themselves upon the chains you might find fencing off a pathway or a parking lot and proceed to perform tricks upon them.
Chain Surfer attempts to replicate this sport, turning it into a game while also far exaggerating the abilities of any of the folk in any of the videos I came across on YouTube. Players get the surf by tilting the device left and right, sending the on-screen player into a pendulum-like motion atop the chain. When the meter at the bottom of the screen fills, it's time to start with the tricks. These are performed with various onscreen swipes and gestures, such as swiping up and down or left and right -- get the timing off, or the gesture wrong, and the character's going to end up hitting the concrete.
The toughest part about Chain Surfer is that the tutorial isn't designed very well at all. While it does explain what needs to be done, it's all text based and offers no visual clues as to where the mentioned things are found or should be performed. At first, my character looked far more like some of the amateur YouTube videos; balancing precariously and wiggling slightly. But once I worked it out, the difficulty dropped dramatically. It almost became too easy as I made my way through the game's arcade mode, which sets a series of challenges to complete in order to progress to the next stage. Although it did become a little more difficult when the game occasionally decided to perform tricks, but not register them.
Once arcade mode is done, the freestyle and against the clock modes come into play. Both are primarily high-score based and to me offer a little less enjoyment than the arcade mode due to the lack of variety on offer as far as tricks go -- there's probably around ten to choose from at most. Achievements are about all there is to play for here, except for those players that want to compete in the leaderboards.
There's ultimately some potential in Chain Surfer, and at the very least may introduce this strange phenomena to a wider audience. The soundtrack's not bad and the graphics look fairly nice. It just needs a little more polish to become something more than the somewhat average game it is today -- the responsiveness of both the touch and tilt controls doesn't feel very tuned, and the tutorial could certainly do with a look-over, as could whatever's causing tricks to not register. It only happened twice in my time with the app, but was extremely frustrating as I desperately tried to 'wipeout' my character so I could restart the misson.