The best way to describe Wave Break would be as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater mixed with Wave Race, all with a funky vibe attached that’s oozing with 80s nostalgia. Ok, the fact that you’re on a boat rather than a jet-ski does take away from the Wave Race-inspiration a little, but there’s no denying that the concept sounds fascinating, right? After a brief period of exclusivity on Google Stadia, it has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch, giving players the chance to enjoy its wacky gameplay on the go. HEY, YOU COULD EVEN PLAY IT ON A BOAT.
Check out a gallery of screenshots from the game down below:
The core gameplay mechanics of Wave Break will feel familiar to anyone who has played a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game before, with the player competing across a series of levels where they’re tasked with different objectives to complete. Players are also able to amass a score by pulling off different tricks, with button combinations paired with slick jumps and rail-grinding (yes, you get to do it on a boat) all strung together to pull off high-scoring combos.
If the concept sounds a bit bizarre to you, that’s because it is. Somehow though, it all works really well, with the performing of tricks and traversal across each area feeling great in-game. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll take some getting used to with the tricks and the controls (especially for those who played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and are used to worrying about bailing), but when everything comes into place it feels really fun to play. Just expect a bit of a learning curve as you adjust to the frantic controls.
Those aforementioned objectives are pretty fun too, with them ranging from simple things such as hitting specific scores, finding all B-R-E-A-K letters, or performing specific tricks, to those that are a bit more unique – I’ll let you uncover those in-game though. Put it this way: you have a gun and you’ll be putting it to use. Whilst that sounds like a really neat idea in theory, it didn’t really offer much in-game other than a few bland shootouts.
“Players are able to amass a score by pulling off different tricks, with button combinations paired with slick jumps and rail-grinding (yes, you get to do it on a boat) all strung together to pull off high-scoring combos.”
It was satisfying progressing through levels, though it could be guilty of feeling like a bity of a grind at times. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series has always made it feel manageable to work through the objectives and complete multiple at a time, but Wave Break’s were a bit more laborious and often required multiple attempts at each level to complete enough to progress. It doesn’t make the objectives any less enjoyable to actually complete, but players can probably expect to spend some time doing the same things over and over again.
It doesn’t help that Wave Break can be tough. The floaty (literally) nature of the controls means players don’t have as much precision as they would in similar games, whether that’s when busting jumps around the environment or sliding around whilst on-land. Whilst this doesn’t matter so much when trying to pull off tricks, it can make the objectives that require accuracy a bit trickier to complete. Again, it’s something that does get easier with time, but it’s certainly noticeable throughout the bulk of the game.
Whilst flawed though, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a lot of fun playing through Wave Break. Each level is full to the brim with character and charm, whilst that 80s style aesthetic fits the tone of the game perfectly. There’s plenty to unlock along the way too, whether that’s new cosmetics, characters, or upgrades to improve your skills. There’s definitely an enjoyable sense of progress to the game, with the single player portion offering more than enough to keep players invested.
“The floaty (literally) nature of the controls means players don’t have as much precision as they would in similar games, whether that’s when busting jumps around the environment or sliding around whilst on-land.”
‘What about multiplayer?’, I hear you ask. Well, whilst Wave Break does have online multiplayer options, I haven’t managed to find other players to play with yet to give it a good go. Maybe I’ve just hit the online modes at the wrong time, but it doesn’t seem like the community is buzzing right now… hopefully this is something that can be rectified as more players get stuck into the game.
It’s a shame too, because Wave Break has some cool multiplayer options on offer. Besides the different game modes, players can also use the Park Creator to create their own levels – this can be done online with friends too. It’s a user-friendly experience that encourages creativity and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and creating the BEST Wave Break park ever…
Performance-wise, Wave Break feels great on the Nintendo Switch thanks to its slick 60fps frame rate, though the visual quality itself does take a hit when compared to its PC counterpart. It certainly doesn’t look bad by any means, but you can expect to see some sketchy textures and diluted colours here and there – especially when playing handheld. It’s hard to complain too much though, especially since the performance is stead and lends itself well to the action of the game.
That being said, I could find it difficult to keep on top of the action at times. The camera is guilty of not following the action that well at places, meaning it can be hard to pull off tricks and hit the right spots at the same time. It made for a few frustrating moments, especially when trying to pull off combos or complete objectives that required precision.
“Performance-wise, Wave Break feels great on the Nintendo Switch thanks to its slick 60fps frame rate, though the visual quality itself does take a hit when compared to its PC counterpart.”
I can’t end this review without talking about ‘Weezy Mode’ – the game mode that was shown off at the Summer Games Fest that features the band Weezer. It takes place over a Weezer-inspired level, with their latest track playing in the background as players complete Weezer-specific objectives. It’s a brilliant little crossover event that focuses on a band I’m a big fan of, so it’s something I especially appreciated.
Wave Break is a whole lotta fun, with its zany Tony Hawk’s and boating mash-up making for a unique and enjoyable experience. It’ll just take a fair bit of practice to master, with the tricky controls, challenging objectives, and sometimes awkward camera making for a rough time at first. When you finally nail it though? A good time is DEFINITELY to be had.
It does have a few missteps here and there, but I would happily recommend Wave Break – especially for gamers who enjoy the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series (or maybe just want to listen to some Weezer).
Developer: Funktronic Labs
Publisher: Funktronic Labs
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC
Click here to visit the official website.