GAME NAME: Ice Cream Surfer
DEVELOPER(S): Dolores Entertainment S.L.
PUBLISHER(S): Dolores Entertainment S.L.
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U
GENRE(S): Side-Scrolling Shooter
RELEASE DATE(S): September 4th, 2014
I was always intrigued when I was younger with games like Gradius and Life Force. I liked the idea of piloting your own spacecraft and the ease of maneuvering it in 2D helps. These games were some of my favorite of the genre and would occupy a lot of time in my NES. Dolores Entertainment completely flips the script of using spacecrafts and makes what is more like a hallucination or acid trip of the genre with Ice Cream Surfer.
The story starts out as The Evil Broccoli has become annoyed with all the kids of the world not eating their veggies and taking to ice cream as an alternative. He then gathers an army of vegetables to destroy the flavor galaxy. You control Ice Cream Surfer a.k.a. Ace or one of his four friends: Sailor Twist, Rei Tou, Hima and Super Cream as you traverse the Gourmet Universe and end in an ultimate clash with the Evil Broccoli in the No-Flavor Zone. There are six levels total and each one feels just as trippy as the next. Some with have you taking on chop sticks and cups of romen noodles, while others will have you peppers, onions and tomatoes. Each level finishes of with a challenging yet amusing boss fight.
The first thing I noticed when turning the game on was the the X button is what you use to accept the menu options which is really odd. I thought my controller was broken when trying to select a level with the A button. Once in the game, which can be played co-op, you will use the d-pad to control your character and the X or A button to use your main attack. Each character has a different attack which is a mixed bag. While it makes the characters feel different and unique, it totally throws off the balance of the game. With Rei Tou for instance, you use a sword and have to get close enough to the enemy for the attack to hit. This leaves you extremely venerable to enemy attacks.
Each character also has a super move that can be activated by using the Y or B button. These attacks vary as well and can be earned by collecting the jewels that fall enemies drop. Other power-ups in the form of ice pops can be picked up as well to help power-up your regular attacks. If you collect spoons you will get an added buddy flying by your side that will assist you in fighting and also take damage for you, giving you an extra hit. You start with 3 lives, more of which can be collected in the levels, but if you run out of lives you will have to burn a continue and lose all of your score progress. Collecting the letters in Ice Cream will also help you increase your score to help climb you up to the top of the local leaderboard.
The graphics look to take a page out the the Super Nintendo era, with nicely crafted 16-Bit sprites. I’m all for the retro look, but I couldn’t help feel like this was more of a cop out rather then an homage. Not that it looks horrible, it does do it’s job to look like a Sega Genesis or SNES game, but I would have rather seen some crisp HD graphics for this game, especially after reading the comic on icecreamsurfer.com and seeing how beautifully crafted that was. There are even slow-down issues present, which is inexcusable with the power of today’s machines. The soundtrack has a really good 90’s arcade sound and definitely fits the feel of the game. Even though it hits it’s target, it doesn’t have any long lasting or memorable tracks.
Ice Cream Surfer is a nice, short game that you can beat within an hour. This makes the replayability pretty high, especially with the co-op mode and the quirky characters and story. It’s not reinventing the wheel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel like it doesn’t do enough to give itself it’s own identity and lasting appeal this go around. I would love to see a sequel with some better graphics, more levels, a little better character balance, and fix the slow-down issues and I think Dolores Entertainment can have a winner on their hands.