Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
There aren’t enough aquatic racing games these days. With Wave Race and Kelly Slater Pro Surfer both sleeping with the fishes, those with the need for speed have unfortunately been landlocked. But with Pixel Boat Rush players can race on the high seas once more, and even if all of its systems don’t succeed, they still create a distinct and entertaining combination.
Pixel Boat Rush's mechanics are surprisingly complex, but “reverse Tiny Wings” would be the best place to start. Players hold forward to accelerate across the linear liquid racetrack. As they approach waves and dips, instead of letting go to fly into the sky, they let go so the downforce will cause their boat to hug the wave even tighter. This conserves momentum and increases speed. It takes some getting used to, but the rhythm becomes quite satisfying. However, with more jagged waves and obstacles, sometimes it’s better to just keep moving, jump across the whole mess, and avoid a lot of trouble. It also makes it easier to appreciate the bold, bizarre, and saturated colors of the game’s detailed but unabashedly pixelated world.
Those basics will get players through the first few races, but to really go for the gold in Pixel Boat Rush's fair amount of events players will also need to go on the offensive. Certain levels give players access to their boat’s guns. By holding the fire button, they can mow down competitors in front of them. Of course this also means they're vulnerable to shots from behind, and this is one area where the game stumbles a little bit.
Since the track is a straight line, there’s no real way to dodge fire besides hopping from wave to wave gathering power-ups. So when players start getting attacked, they can’t defend themselves and death is kind of inevitable. It’s not a huge impediment since they’ll recover fairly fast, but then what was the point of the guns in the first place? However, players can use their winnings to upgrade their boat’s power and durability so at least that adds some strategy. Boatloads of funny flavor text help smooth over frustrations, too.
But even if Pixel Boat Rush doesn’t completely coalesce, it’s still a unique racing game with weirdness that just makes it even more wonderful. Check it out before it’s lost at sea.