Championship Pro Surfer Hands-On
We got our feet wet with Mattel's surfing simulator at E3 this year. Check out what we thought.
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Billabong Pro Surfer (working title) is one of the few surfing games to come out on a console. Developed by Mattel Interactive, Billabong puts you in control of one of several professional boarders as they bust a move all over the Pacific Ocean. There are obstacles to avoid (reefs, jet skis, and sharks) and several different tricks to perform. The gameplay is simple (surf into the crest of the wave and hit X to catch air, then perform a trick), but, frankly, Billabong doesn't come close to making use of the Dreamcast's potential. Realistic water is notoriously hard to animate and program, and it seems that Mattel Interactive spent most of its time fighting with this problem than making the game enjoyable. What was present at the E3 suffered from horrid camera angles. The default setting filled the entire screen with the ocean, with the surfer being a bit larger than a quarter. It was very difficult to discern the surfer's orientation, and wipeouts were common. The five other points of view weren't much better, though the best - the closest - showed the amount of detail that the surfers, boards, and ocean contained.
Unfortunately, this angle put the camera way too close to the action, so it was nearly impossible to see how the surfer was faring. If you can imagine a martial-arts movie where the camera is so close to the fighting that you can't see what's going on, then you get the general feeling of Billabong Pro Surfer.
Fortunately, this title isn't set to be released until November 2000, so hopefully Mattel Interactive will receive constructive criticism before then and make this title all it can be.