Party Wave is the iOS debut of Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Hawaii based game studio, Mistwalker. As someone who grew up in Hawaii, I can say I felt an instant connection to this game, as it’s quite clear the passion that went into it feels like a real love letter to the waves of the islands.
But putting aside sentimental attachments for my old island home, we have to start looking into the design of Party Wave, and if it really works or not.
Each level is broken up into two halves. The first half is all about positioning your surfers. Players will swipe and drag the touch screen to move the surfers around while attempting to dodge obstacles such as buoys, dolphins, jellyfish, rocks, and perhaps the most dangerous obstacles of all…the other surfers. The goal of this half of the level is get all of the surfers safely to the set location before the wave arrives, which brings us to the second half.
The second half of each level is the titular Party Wave segment of the game. Gameplay here gets mixed up a bit, but your goal is the same – maintain the well being of your surfers. As the characters ride along the giant wave, players will have to tap the characters to get them to glide along it. Tapping them when they’re flashing will make them get some air, thus awarding more points. However, letting them fall too much into the wave will result in the surfers wiping out.
While this may sound simple, keeping all of the surfers in balance can be a daunting, though rewarding experience. Obstacles must also be avoided on the waves themselves, primarily jellyfish that will shock your surfers if they should bump into them before the player can tap them. While the shock itself freezes everyone in place, the real challenge comes afterwards as the effects of the shock will quickly force your surfers down, requiring quick reflexes to keep them all from wiping out. In the first part of each level there is a single shining spot for players to find before going to the wave point that will unlock an alien named Hiso to come around in the party wave segment and award players with a star that can be used to avoid obstacles. Getting a perfect on the first half, a perfect on the second half and finding Hiso is Party Wave’s equivalent of the three star system.
The biggest criticism I can offer to Party Wave to some may not sound like criticism at all, but it really is in the difficulty curve of some of the later levels. Primarily these are levels where players will be in charge of keeping a large amount of surfers afloat on a wave. These can be challenging enough to complete normally, let alone scoring a perfect on it. However, I can say that even with the difficulty, it’s never the type of difficulty that made me want to stop playing. Thankfully, the game allows players to instantly jump to the party wave segment of a level once they have already achieved a perfect score on the first half. This is a feature I firmly believe many players will appreciate having.
There really is a lot that can be said about Party Wave. The presentation is enhanced by the fun art style with a memorable cast of characters, the soundtrack always seems to fit the environment, and the gameplay is a prime example of “simple to learn, hard to master.” Those looking for a fun, challenging and engaging summer game to beat the heat with, it’s hard to go wrong with Party Wave.
+Controls work well
+Fun variety of surfers
+An adorable alien gives you stars
-Later levels start to feel cluttered
-No real control over where your surfers will go in the wave
Party Wave is a difficult challenge wrapped around a fun to play title well worth the experience.
Party Wave was released on July 20th, 2012 for iOS devices.