When a game crashes while displaying its help file, that's rarely a good sign. When a Jet Ski racing game lets you completely ignore the track boundaries, that's no indication of quality either. The challenge of Splashdown: Rides Gone Wild isn't in beating your hapless artificially intelligent opponents, it's in discerning which "features" are the products of bad game design and which are just bugs.
In Splashdown, you enter your name and choose one of three characters. You'll compete against the other two characters in two modes: freestyle and circuit. These game types are both problematic, and they aren't terribly interesting.
Freestyle mode puts you in a cordoned-off area with several identical ramps. It's your job to perform a number of uninteresting midair stunts (by tapping on the control pad) before your allotted time elapses. You can't perform any flips or spins and are limited to furiously waving your limbs to perform Splashdown favorites, like the "Get Up Dude" or the "Flying Squid." Your score is then compared to those of your opponents, whose runs occurred parallel to your own. When you finish a run, just select "Next Track" to compete on a virtually identical course.
Circuit mode is completely and unequivocally broken. Here, you can simply drive through the course boundaries, taking shortcuts to which your opponents aren't privy. You can literally drive right through the center of the track, ignoring the boundaries and cutting your lap time in half. It seems that so long as you pass at least one turn marker while on the track, the lap will be counted. You don't seem to be penalized for this practice. In fact, it sometimes scores you points. This isn't detailed in the help file (even when we can keep it from crashing), so it's, frankly, mystifying. Meanwhile, your opponents doggedly stay the course and therefore are never able to give you any challenge.
If you pause the game at any time, you may cause a crash. The longer the game remains paused, the less likely it is to successfully resume. The tension that builds during extended pausings is palpable. Can you head to the bathroom? Who knows! You may not be able to resume your jet-skiing career afterward.
Splashdown's physics are unrealistic, so you can spin your craft in tight circles regardless of your speed. Although it's possible to ease off the throttle, we didn't figure this out until hours into our play experience. Consequently, it's really unnecessary to go at less than top speed.
In fact, the best thing that can be said about Splashdown is that it runs very quickly. You can cheat in circuit mode at a very respectable clip. The riders themselves don't look so hot on the LG VX8000, but at least they animate smoothly. The water, though, is completely stationary, which doesn't exactly foster a sense of realism. The riders also bump into one another constantly, which causes an animation bug that makes them look like they're jittering anxiously. Indeed, their rides go wild.
Splashdown's audio is barely worth mentioning. If you enable it, you'll hear what sounds like experimental harpsichord music. This thankfully only plays over the main menu. In-game, you'll only hear a single sound, which is triggered whenever you score points.
Splashdown: Rides Gone Wild is one of the worst racing games available on mobile phones, and isn't worthy of being associated with THQ's fun PS2 game of the same name. Splashdown is one of those rare games that is flawed both by design and by execution. Even if its litany of bugs were fixed, this would still be an unimaginative racer of which players will quickly tire.