Sunny Garcia Surfing
Not since I'd seen the surf scene from "Apocalypse Now" did I have any idea how painful surfing could be. Some might call it a fun sport, difficult, challenging, but ultimately rewarding. The Beach Boys defined a branch of pop music with their adoration of the waves, and it was a popular backdrop for 50’s and 60’s beach party films. As of late, we’ve seen ads for a new series of surfing-based sports games for the PS2 and, soon, the Xbox. Focusing on strong gameplay and incredible graphics, due to the complexity of creating realistic wave effects, these titles could be a new wave in sports gaming.
Sunny Garcia Surfing is a brand new title from Ubi Soft, the same company that brought us Bang! Gunship Elite, and Grandia 2. The game takes its name from Sunny Garcia, the current world champion surfer, letting you surf amazing locations with waves the likes of which you’ve never seen on a console system. Entering the relatively new genre of surf sport games, Sunny Garcia is the first game to try to render realistic real-time water effects on the PS2. Since simulating a wave can be somewhat difficult for a console system, these titles are excellent candidates for seeing exactly how powerful the console you’re using is. In the end, these titles have little in the way of storyline and usually rely on gameplay and radical design to place them above the pack. The question that Sunny Garcia Surfing must answer is, "Should I put down my copy of SSX to play this game?" Without much aggrandizement, I’ll try to give you a good view of why I consider this title a sub-par sports game, even considering how boring surfing for hours on end in a console would be without much variety.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The interface is ridiculously simple. Navigate through a few very easy to understand screens, and you’ll be ready to play. There are only a few different screens, with an options menu and the like, that you’ll ever need to use, and these menus are so simple that you won’t need to worry about getting lost in complex procedure or mired in endless sub-screens. I didn’t like the sickly wave effect that they had going in the main menu, as it just made the menus look distorted, and the background is this flat blue that is boring and uninteresting to look at. At least the demo starts quickly from the main menu...
You can free surf or enter a tournament, taking your choice of surfer and board. With eight different surfers to pick from, like Sunny Garcia, Rochelle Ballard, or Tim Reyes, you shouldn’t want for your favorite celebrity to surf with. There are twelve courses in all, letting you surf in a variety of locales. You’ll notice that most of the courses and surfers are locked when you begin a game, as you’ll need to complete objectives on the waves to unlock them. When you finally get to surf, you may be in for a shock. With an extremely high learning curve, surfing in this game isn’t an easy task. You’ve got buttons for tricking, paddling, diving, and cutbacks, all the while controlling your speed and direction with the analog stick. If you can actually stick to the wave and get up on your board well, you’ll probably get a few seconds on there before you’re dumped straight into the water. At times, I really had to wonder why I was continuing at all, given the apparently unrealistic behavior. My board could only ride on a specifically narrow part of the wave, and it had a nasty tendency to crash at the slightest deviation from the wave’s path. This effect is reduced over time, as you progress to the better courses with larger waves, but it’s still annoying in the extreme. Aside from the crash issue, the gameplay wasn’t truly exciting. I got the board up on the wave for a few moments at a time, cut a few tricks, and crashed regularly. Each surfer has a relatively unique set of moves, motion captured from actual shots of their many performances. With around fifty tricks per surfer, you’ve got a lot to work with, but when the game only requires a few trick combos and scoring a certain set of points to advance to unlock the next item, there just isn’t much to offer here.
You can play with your friends via head-to-head surfing on the same PS2, with many different multiplayer modes to choose from. You’ll race on the same wave, split screen, trying to determine who is the best of the best. Unfortunately, you’ve got precious little view on a normal screen, and making it split screen only tends to make it worse.
While Sunny Garcia Surfing couldn’t have been made without the graphics power of the PS2, it certainly could’ve been made to look much better in spite of itself. Most of the time, you won’t get to see those really nice wave effects, or a beach, as you’ll be too busy crashing your board into the waves. Your view generally stays at an overhead angle, letting you get a top down look at the surfing. This means that most of the time, you’ll only see a single wave, a single rider, without much contrast or detail on the screen. Combine that with how hard it actually is to pull off some of the better tricks and runs, and you won’t even get to see your rider in action half of the time.
With mild rock music featuring bands like MXPX, there’s little to listen to. Given the sedate gameplay, audio tracks from an actual band are somewhat wasted, as it’s the rare chance you can actually get a good ride off of a wave. Hey, at least it has tracks from a few good alternative bands.
Although it could’ve been a strong competitor for the PS2,Sunny Garcia Surfing’s lack of gameplay and graphics make it a weak contender at best. Mild and uninspired, this game could’ve been improved with a lot more attention to the small details. Camera views that only show off the scenery during a demo playback, and the fact that it’s still next to impossible to surf the barrel of the wave, really give this game a bad reputation in my book. Play this one only if you’re a hardcore surf fan, and even then I’d still suggest waiting for another title.
Download Sunny Garcia Surfing
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP