“ A sports game developed by Krome Studios and published by Mattel Interactive. The championship mode puts you in a surfing competition complete with the time limits ladder eliminations and panel-style scoring found in actual surf competitions. „
"Championship Surfer" is a stunt based sports video game. It was first released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001 by Mattel. In the United States, the game received a guidance rating of "E" which deemed it appropriate for all ages.
Surfing games are few and far between on most modern gaming consoles. In comparison to other "extreme" sports, surfing seems to be lag behind in favour of more popular events such as skateboarding and BMX biking. This title handles similarly to the aforementioned pursuits, and pits the player at the helm of a professional surfer and his surfboard. Through a grand total of seven different gameplay modes which are spread across 10 beaches, it is the player's objective to execute a series of stunts and tricks to accumulate points and satisfy any mode specific objectives. The bulk of the gaming experience is found in the title's "Championship" mode which fuses the time attack and arcade exhibition modes together. In it, players must progress through a ladder-style ranking system based on trick performance within certain time limits or based on accuracy as calculated by a judging panel. Players may also access more suitably "arcade" modes such as "Rumble". Here, players are matched up against one computer opponent and must attempt to remove him from his surfboard by collecting power ups and attack items within the waves.
The stunt based video game legacy is typically known for its high learning curve, and Championship Surfer is something I found to be particularly difficult in this respect. Timing seems to play a crucial role in trick execution as quickly maneuvering the surfboard while airbourne lowers one's accuracy rating which rewards a lower score, and similarly taking too long to execute a trick often results in the surfer plummeting into the depth of the water. In the early stages of the video game I found the ultra high sensitivity to be very hard to master, and even today still find myself struggling to perfectly time an intricate and graceful move. This usually makes for a frustrating experience and after several losses per gaming session I hastily remove the game disc and replace it with something more suitable for an average skill level.
The graphics are presented from an isometric perspective which initially focuses as a side scroll but will automatically adapt to suit certain maneuvers and situations such as paddling towards the high tide. I didn't find myself all that interested in the visual presentation of this video game. Many times I found myself losing track of my surfer's position within the wave as the object seems to envelope itself over the scene. This creates a funnel-like white curtain which masks the surfer completely. It's often necessary to guide the surfer out of this to a seemingly calmer portion of the wave, and this brings the surfer back into view. The images are otherwise standard fare and are what I would have expected before loading; blue waters, sandy beaches, and tropical accents such as palm trees. The soundtrack was somewhat appropriate for this video game though its lively techno nature seems more suitable for a racing title as opposed to something requiring precise focus such as this. Sound effects are limited, and are concentrated solely on the white noise hiss of the waves and infrequent overlaying commentary which compliments the player's performance.
Stunt enthusiasts may find themselves at home on Championship Surfer. It is certainly something geared for an expert skill level player. Despite its visual faults it is something I would recommend to those interested in the finer points of trick and stunt performance video games. Those dabbling in the genre may want to give this a miss, though, as it is likely the very high learning curve may send players back to shore for an easier game.