Xtreme sports video games have been around since the early days of the PlayStation. With the recent success of Tony Hawk Pro Skater on the PlayStation and 1080 Snowboarding on the Nintendo 64, it makes sense that more companies would jump on the Xtreme sports bandwagon. Enter Surf Riders, THQ's latest entry into PlayStation land, with the full set of rules and regulations of the Association of Surfing Professionals but without the hammerhead sharks or the jellyfish. Unfortunately, Surf Riders isn't the big Kahuna of surfing games. The controls are very difficult and the gameplay is monotonous.
Gamers can choose from a list of Surf Riders's 16 surfing pros to attack the waves. In Circuit mode, players can enter the competition and work their way up the surfing ranks to compete in a series of four-person, time-specific heats. In the qualifying rounds, players who ride the waves in a big way and rack up plenty of points advance to the semifinals and then on to the finals.
Surfers are scored from 1 to 10 and are awarded points based on their ability to catch a wave within the time limit, as well as the power, size, and speed of their maneuvers. Surfers can tackle the waves of Hawaii, Japan, France, Australia, and California.
Just like learning to surf for real, Surf Ridershas an intense learning curve. In that respect, we'll give this game just a teeny bit of credit. But players should expect a sore thumb from trying to execute the many tricks this game demands. The tricks--cyclones, helicopters, spins, back flips, cutbacks, and tube rides among them--are fun but by no means are they easy. It takes practice and some patience to master Surf Riders's controls. So if patience isn't your thing, pick another game. --Todd Mowatt
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