(DSiWare)

Surfacer+ (DSiWare)

Game Review

Surfacer+ Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jacob Crites

A+

The year may be young (really, really young) but we've already seen two must-have games hit the DSiWare Shop. The first was Alt-Play: Jason Rohrer Anthology, a collection of some of the most beautifully realised artistic statements gaming has to offer. The second is Surfacer+, a wonderfully unique action-puzzler that came out of nowhere and completely knocked our socks off. Seriously – this game came out of nowhere. Not only did it have zero hype, but its developer, Lexis Numerique, is primarily known for its WiiWare children's series, Learning with the PooYoos.

The game doesn't look like much, either, at a cursory glance. Its description in the DSiWare Shop is vague, and the screenshots make the whole thing look like a drab affair. And, wait, isn't it about flowers or something? Why the heck is it called Surfacer+?

Well, we don't know. And, frankly, we don't care. Surfacer+ is a fantastic, addictive action-puzzler at which every DSi owner should definitely take a look.

So, what on earth is it? To put it simply, it's an Art Style game without the Art Style label. It's a cinch to pick up and play, with intuitive touch-controls and an uncomplicated premise – and on top of that, it features a distinctive, minimalistic visual style that's complimented by a suitably atmospheric soundtrack.

The object is simple: fill your screen with flowers. Pressing the stylus to the touch-screen will place a flower there; the longer you press, the bigger your flower will grow. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not quite. There are a lot of things to wrap your head around while making your way through the endless series of increasingly difficult levels — you're given a limited amount of flowers per stage, for one thing, but you'll also have to avoid getting your growing flower popped by dastardly little bouncing particles, monitor your progress meter on the top screen and keep your eye on a clock that's always ticking down (and no, cheater, you can't just place one gigantic flower on the screen and call it a day, as it'll pop if it gets too big). There are even some fun power-ups available that allow you to freeze the bouncing particles or slow them down. Once you fill the bottom screen, as indicated by your progress meter up top, you move on to the next level. Run out of time or lose all of your flowers, and it's Game Over, mister.

The gameplay is made even more interesting and enjoyable by a surprisingly functional physics system. Your flowers don't simply stick in place once you've finished growing them — they fall to the bottom of the screen and roll off or stack on top of other flowers you've placed. It's a nice system that works consistently and doesn't feel in any way unnatural — a must when it comes to a game's physics.

With a concept this simple, it would be easy for Surfacer+ to get repetitive, but perhaps its biggest virtue is its ability to constantly throw new twists and surprises at you. Just as you're starting to get comfortable with the current play-style, the next level introduces a new concept – say, the ability to connect three flowers of equal size together for a bonus, or remaining time for each completed level carrying over to the next – to keep things fresh and exciting. Surfacer+ is a gift that keeps on giving, and whether you're in it for the long haul or just a few minutes on the bus, you're sure to have a great time.

As fun as the game is, though, there's really not a whole lot of extra content here. Scratch that, there's no extra content. There are no online leaderboards, and since the game would lend itself quite well to cooperative multiplayer, it's a shame to see that there are no download or wireless play options either. What's included is so strong, though, that it hardly even matters.

Conclusion

Surfacer+ is a rare breed: a DSiWare game that completely catches us off-guard, surprises us with its unique charm and gameplay and gets more entertaining the longer we play it. It not only lives up to its promise of offering easy to pick up and totally innovative gameplay that's suitable for all, but it does so with an artistic flair that makes it stand out in a sea of mediocre DSiWare titles. It's fun, weird, utterly compelling, and its initially relaxed pace quickly blossoms into something both frantic and challenging. Some might feel that 500 Points is a little steep for a game with no extra content, but it's such an all-around fun experience that it's almost impossible not to recommend.

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User Comments (36)

Kid_A

#2

Kid_A said:

Hm, I had never heard of Filler before. Seems pretty similar, for sure, but it doesn't stop this game from being fun, and it definitely works better on a portable, with touch screen controls.

1upsuper

#3

1upsuper said:

I had quite high hopes for this one; for some reason, I just knew it was gonna turn out good. Call it a gamer's intuition, I guess.

I do have a question, however, before I download it: How many levels would you say it has?

Kid_A

#4

Kid_A said:

@1upsuper
I'm really not sure how many levels it has. I'm stuck in the 30's right now, but I would say there's probably 50-100 at least? It's kind of like Tetris, in the sense that it's not really a game that you can "beat"

Provider

#6

Provider said:

Really? I was interested when I read the description, then I watched the trailer on the Nintendo Channel and... it didn't tell me anything... but now I'm getting it :D

kurtasbestos

#8

kurtasbestos said:

I'm glad to hear that this turned out as good as I kept thinking it looked, mostly because I'm addicted to the entire Art Style series and I also thought it looked like it should be a new addition.

barucci2000

#10

barucci2000 said:

I think this game is a bit over rated. Also the price should be 200 NP. I don't think that I will download this.

bboy2970

#11

bboy2970 said:

I was just casually reading this not really intending on buying until the reviewer compared it to the Art Style series. Now i'm interested! I have to know though, is it REALLY like an Art Style game without "Art Style" in the title? Like where would you rank this in relation to the other DSiWare Art Style games?

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#14

Philip_J_Reed said:

@13:
If you have an iPad and believe you can get a comparable game for free, then by all means do so! But that does not stop it from being a good buy for folks who have a DSi instead.

Kid_A

#15

Kid_A said:

@bboy2970
It definitely had that art style feel (although the art direction itself isn't quite as stong). The only AS game I sunk a lot of time into was PiCTObits and I'm enjoying this one at least as much as that. This one is less frantic, though, comparatively

Mowzle2

#16

Mowzle2 said:

This sounds real fun. I'm gonna toddle off to the DSiWare shop on Friday.
Thanks for the informative review.

shinesprite

#17

shinesprite said:

Like the first poster said, try out this flash game before buying.

@1 thanks again for the link. I really did not understand this game until I tried it out.

Despite the good review, I'm plainly not interested in this game.

Kid_A

#19

Kid_A said:

@Crunc
Well as Chicken Brutus mentioned above, some us don't have an iOS device. If you can find a comparable title for free, then you should definitely do it. But for those of us who use our DS as our primary (or only) portable gaming device, this comes highly recommended.

theblackdragonAdmin

#22

theblackdragon said:

@shinesprite: Kid_A already admitted in reply#2 that he had no prior knowledge of the free version, and that's what the comment threads for reviews here are for -- to pick up on things that may have been glossed over or accidentally omitted from the review itself. It's not his fault, he just didn't know about it, and now everyone reading these comments does, so problem solved. :3

bboy2970

#25

bboy2970 said:

Well after playing the flash game, I decided that this just isn't for me. Oh well, 500 point loss avoided!

axelay80

#26

axelay80 said:

Downloaded it... and it didn't excite me very much. The whole presentation just screamed "boredom" to me. Cool concept, though.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#27

Philip_J_Reed said:

I never would have looked twice at this if not for the review, so thanks for such a great writeup. I might pick it up soon with Flipper for a long trip I'm taking in a few weeks. This definitely sounds like my kind of game.

MeloMan

#28

MeloMan said:

Like someone mentioned, Nintendo Channel didn't really tell me anything and to me, it didn't look like it had any challenge, but thanks to this review, I better see where this game is going and where the challenge will kick in. I'm surprised it's 500pts., but I'm looking for stuff to pick up and put down on bus rides, so I may just slide on over to the DSiWare shop for this one.

jdarrell

#30

jdarrell said:

I had Qix (I have no idea why I owned a puzzle game on the Gameboy, but I did for some reason...), but the controls make it a completely different game in my opinion. Personally I like Qix much more than Filler.

TheMole

#31

TheMole said:

Game is not a 9/10 game it is more like 6 and that is coming from a huge Art Style and puzzle games fan. The game does not require enough skill, its more luck.

So many better 200 point games do yourself a favour avoid this buy Aura Aura Climber and save yourself 300 points into the bargain

xxx_Kirby_xxx

#33

xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

@TheMole: I bought Aura-Aura Climber. Cute, little, addictive game. Except, I was so addicted, I accidentally finished 10 levels in one day. Oops. :P So now I only have the Marathon and Endless level to complete. Hahaha...... :(
Nice review, but I don't reckon I'd pay 500 points for this.

TheMole

#34

TheMole said:

Nintendolife are usually spot on with reviews but i much prefer Frenzic to this which they did not rate very much. I just can't get into this at all

lOnE-WolF

#35

lOnE-WolF said:

500 points is a tad steep for what it is, but I'll welcome any good addition to my DSiWare library that isn't grotesquely overpriced. 'Sides, I like these types of games anyway, so I'm glad the service has one now.

hjstjk

#36

hjstjk said:

Very fun and addicting! Love the graphics of the flowers! Also for those of you that have it i recommend saving your progress every 2 or 3 levels just in case u don't pass a level. If u dont save u will have to go back to the level u last saved... and for some ppl it will be level 1!!!!

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