That’s Just The Wave!
HIGH: A wonderful throwback to my favorite franchise…
LOW …undone by awkward controls, camera, and annoying physics.
WTF A Weezer-themed in-game event that still has me questioning my love for this band.
I love Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It’s no secret and has been pretty well documented on this site. While I’m glad to see indie extreme games try to fill the Hawk void, I do wish more of them would mimic the now-iconic style. A perfect THPS game is a short, arcadey collect-a-thon full of gaps to jump, secrets to unlock, and a soundtrack that fits the mood. Wave Break wisely hits these notes, while adding with a few dynamic changes to the formula.
Wave Break starts with players controlling anthropomorphic animals on speedboats in an episodic story mode. Paying homage to ’80s shows like Miami Vice, the funny and stylish campaign is entertaining and full of darkly comedic moments. I loved the bright colors, character portraits and snappy banter between the player’s character and their rivals. There’s a strong sense of style here that I really dig.
What I also appreciated was its hook. It’s been so long since I’ve played anything so close to the Pro Skater formula that I was almost emotional seeing the same beats play out. Each level starts with a breakdown of different objectives players need to complete in a set time. These range from collecting letters that spell WAVE, reaching a specific high score or clearing gaps. Players are then let loose to attempt to complete these goals, trying over and over until they reach a certain threshold to unlock the next level.
This was great to see and I was more than happy to start grinding, flipping and grabbing all over a level while a dope synth soundtrack scored my experience. Unfortunately, while the devs followed Hawk‘s winning formula well, Wave Break’s camera and the controls are issues.
Instead of skating on asphalt, players are on water and have to contend with waves bobbing them back and forth — I found it difficult to get used to. I recommend players go into training or free play before jumping into the campaign, as the added pressure of timers combined with water physics and a difficult camera and controls might turn some prospective fans off before they find a groove.
Less a matter of preference and more of a clear problem, landing tricks only started feeling good after fiddling around with dozens of settings to make sure my boat wasn’t moving too fast and that the camera would follow me correctly. Even so, every so often I found myself pausing the game, readjusting settings in the menu and then jumping back in.
Honestly, I love that Wave Break exists. It’s a delightful homage to what is arguably my favorite series of all time, complete with an interesting aesthetic and an enjoyable story as well — it’s just a shame that I spent most of my time fighting the physics, controls and camera instead of just enjoying it.
Disclosures: This game is published and developed by Funktronic Labs. It is currently available on PS4, XBO, Switch Stadia and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately six hours were spent in the single-player modes and the game was not completed. About one hour was spent in multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated M for Blood, Drug Reference, Strong Language, and Violence. The official ESRB description reads as follows: This is an action game in which players drive speedboats and jet skis through a Miami Vice-style environment of cops and robbers. In addition to speeding through levels to score points, players can collect pistols, shotguns, and machine guns to shoot objects or other characters. Shootings are sometimes depicted with slow-motion effects and splatters of blood. Some story missions reference a fictional drug “product” that can be retrieved; the green item is depicted inside a plastic baggie.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and on-screen instructions cannot be adjusted, but audio is not needed to enjoy this game, thanks to the abundance of visual cues. This game is perfectly accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable and there is no control diagram. A short tutorial lets players know that the A button lets them jump, X and Y are used to grind, grab and flip, while the bumper lets them use their firearms.
He has a knack for talking about movies and games he‘s passionate about. If anyone ever needs an expert on Jim Jarmusch, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Donkey Kong Country, or Kanye West, he’s your guy. Don’t say we didn't warn you, though.