Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
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Time Surfer is a game that owes a hefty debt to Tiny Wings. While Tiny Wings is not entirely original in and of itself, having been inspired by Wavespark, Kumobius’s take on the dipping and diving endless runner comes with one notable twist: time can be reversed. A la Braid, it’s possible to reverse time to correct mistakes. Start diving too late? Turn back time and enjoy that second chance, son. Or third. Or forth. Or eleventh. Seriously, there’s a challenge for dying ten times in one run. The only thing keeping time from being reversed is the time meter – if it runs out, then no more time travelling. Also, don’t dawdle: the end of the universe is coming. That’s right, there’s not the setting sun to fear, but the end of everything. Good luck.
Thankfully Time Surfer uses its time-reversing to play like its own iteration of this familiar formula, so it feels similar, but not like an exact clone. Being able to correct mistakes and experiment a bit with how to approach tricky sections, as long as you don’t run out of time (which can be replenished by collecting orbs throughout), is a fun twist. The missions and unlockable cosmetic items add great replay value, as who doesn’t want to outrun the end of the world in a DeLorean-esque car? Or to control Mikey Shorts as he decides he doesn’t need to surf to escape time, his legs work just fine? The soundtrack in particular is extremely catchy – I found it sticking in my head at random points after having played the game.
I do think that the changes Kumobius made to the formula take away some of the inherent simplicity that makes Tiny Wings so simple and memorable. This is because there’s so many other things to be concerned with, like refilling the time meter, or having to time the dodging of obstacles and trying to hit enemies from above instead of the side. It can feel distracting. The fact that instant death is a constant threat plays a significant part in this.
While Time Surfer will not win any awards for uniqueness, it is a great example of how a fun idea can be iterated upon by blending in concepts from other games to create something that feels at least somewhat new.