GDC 2010: Wakeboarding HD Hands-on

Bikini babes and inflatable beach toys find their way to the GDC floor in this arcade wakeboarding game.

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While talk of cutting-edge technology and powerful programming tools tend to dominate the show floor at the 2010 Game Developers Conference, it's nice to know that there is always room for recreation. Creat Studios was showing off its watery new arcade game, Wakeboarding HD, which is due for release next Thursday, March 18 on the PlayStation Network. We grabbed a tow rope and tried our hand at performing tricks, avoiding shark attacks, and knocking bikini-clad sunbathers off of their rafts.

Wakeboarding HD has you doing just that: wakeboarding. You move back and forth in the wake of a boat that takes you through courses littered with things to jump off of, things to smash, and things to avoid. The courses feature a tropical Southeast Asian theme, so in one level, you can ride up a ramp made of bamboo held up by stone statues and sail over moored junk. The environments are bright and colorful, and the azure water catches the sunlight quite nicely. Despite the perpetual waves made by the boat and the splashes that your movements generate, the surface of the water has a smooth, unbroken look that makes it seem a bit congealed. You glide across this surface on your board, only leaving it when you jump. It may not be the most realistic-looking water, but the sparkling sunlight and variety of blues and greens give it a certain tropical appeal.

Moving your wakeboard is as easy as inclining the analog stick, and holding down a trigger will let you make a harder turn. Once you jump into the air, you can use the analog stick and face buttons to perform tricks and switch between different holds. You'll earn points for your tricks, naturally, and getting bigger air by using the wake or ramps allows you to rack up more points. Consecutive tricks boost your multiplier, which better enables you to strive for a position on the online leaderboards.

While you can aim for a high score on every course, there are also specific objectives to accomplish on each level. Some require you to quickly maneuver around the environment to collect stars or knock into inflatable beach toys. Others challenge you to flex your jumping muscle and stay off of the water for a total of one minute. Smashing through billboards, staying on your board, and avoiding a shark attack are just some of the other goals that will test your wakeboarding prowess.

Any level can be played in split-screen competitive mode, though there is no online play. Wakeboarding HD aims to capture the spirit of colorful, speedy arcade games of decades past, like OutRun and Crazy Taxi. With plenty of places to launch into the air and lots of things to crash into, it looks like the game is on the right track. Wakeboarding HD is scheduled to release on Thursday, March 18 on PSN, where it will be downloadable for $14.99.

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