|Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer|
June 26, 2003 | Eddie Park
Kelly Skater's Pro Surfer (KSPS), as its name suggests, is a surfing game that takes champion surfer Kelly Slater as its title representative. Originally created by Treyarch and soon to come to the Mac courtesy of Aspyr Media, KSPS looks to add surfing to the list of extreme sports titles that have been so popular of late.
Now, Teyarch is probably best known for its line of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games. Given the fact that KSPS shares a similar title, control scheme, and comes from the same developer, one might think that KSPS is nothing more than a rip-off of a proven line of games.
Let's get one thing straight right now - KSPS is not THPS on a surfboard.
Boasting a completely different array of tricks and techniques, beachfront locales where no skateboarder would care to be, and an incredible wave engine, KSPS is undoubtedly its own game. Its overall feel is mellower and its pacing is different. KSPS shares about as much in common with THPS as, well, surfing and skateboarding.
Surfer's WorldFrom its incredibly long opening movie to the inventive game selection interface modeled on top of a boat cabin, KSPS lets players know from the get-go that they've entered the unique world of surfing. Several game modes are offered, including Career Mode, Freesurf, and Multiplayer. Freesurf allows players to choose from whatever surf breaks have been unlocked and go for either high score challenges, icon challenges, or unlimited surfing. The multiplayer game includes modes such as Head-to-Head, Time Attack, and Push.
The Career Mode is the meat of the game, where players start by picking their favorite surfer from among a variety of famous names. Besides the ever-present Kelly Slater, surfers such as Tom Curren, Kalan Robb, and Lisa Andersen are also available, each with their own set of stats. These stats include speed, air, spin, and balance, all of which can be enhanced when making a surfboard selection. Players can also choose from a variety of suits if they so wish.
Once a surfer, board, and look have been chosen, players can start to take on various surf breaks, with each one presenting a series of challenges. Beginners can start at the amazing manufactured wave pool in Japan, and from there move on to locales such as Bells Beach, Pipeline, Sebastian, and even Antarctica. Each surf break is divided into two sets of challenges that can range from anything from photo shoots to outdoing the locals. A sample spread of challenges can include scoring 2000 pts total within 3 photo shots, keeping the special meter full for a certain amount of time, jumping over a pier, and upsetting a jetskier.
A particularly interesting challenge is the Icon Challenge, which can be found in both the Career and Freesurf mode. Players must gather a series of icons, which are basically trick challenges that the player must pull off in order to earn. For example, an icon featuring a Judo Flip may pop up, meaning the player must execute a Judo Flip to earn the icon. Besides adding another gameset, Icon Challenge is a great way to learn how to pull unique tricks.
While many of the challenges are optional, enterprising players will want to complete them all, as challenge completion paves the way to unlocking the huge variety of secrets within KSPS. These include new surfers, boards, surf breaks, and tricks. Good players will be able to unlock cheats, which can be accessed via dialing numbers into a cell phone located in the boat's main cabin.