(Wii U eShop)

Ice Cream Surfer (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Ice Cream Surfer Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Ice Cream Snorer

Shoot 'em ups aren't really a popular genre these days, but there seems to be a bit of a resurgence on the downloadable front. Not long ago we received Gaiabreaker, and now here we have Ice Cream Surfer, a game which had an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign, but nonetheless ended up being developed anyway.

Upon launching the game you'll be presented with a silly intro explaining the story, about an evil piece of broccoli that wants to take over the world; before jumping in proper you get a character select screen which gives you the choice of five characters. Each of these has different stats, with one for example shooting lots of weak projectiles, and another shooting very few, yet very strong projectiles. It's nice that there's variety, but it would've been preferable if the character select screen actually displayed the differences — as it is, you'll have to actually start the game to find out how your character works.

Unlike the recently released Gaiabreaker, Ice Cream Surfer opts to go for the classic horizontal shoot 'em up approach, making you move from left to right rather than bottom to top. As in most similar games, you can freely move around the screen, so when the bullets start flying you'll be moving all over the place to dodge them. Surprisingly, unlike most horizontal shoot 'em ups, there's absolutely no terrain you need to dodge; everything you see, including stuff enemies are clearly standing on, can be flown through without any harm, meaning you only need to deal with enemies and projectiles.

As you fly around, you'll encounter floating ice cubes which, when broken, drop powerups that do a variety of things — depending on your character — like increasing your shot strength, size or even letting you fire in multiple directions at the same time. Defeated enemies, on the other hand, will drop gems that increase your score and slowly build up a meter that earns you a full-screen nuke attack when filled. Speaking of the enemies, they're a pretty wacky bunch, with examples like polar bears on flying soda cans, literal French toast, coffee cups on (flying) saucers, and more. The bosses are also pretty crazy and quickly get big enough to fill the entire screen.

While the game certainly has the wacky factor going for it, it falls short in numerous other categories. First of all, it's quite short and easy, with only six levels to clear before you hit the end credits. None of them are particularly hard, with only a handful of the bosses offering any real resistance to speak of — most of them can be easily shot to death from a safe spot where none of their attacks can ever reach you. When you die you lose all your powerups, but even then the game still isn't anywhere near tough. Once you hit the end, the only thing left to do is unlock entries in the gallery, which has some concept art; it's a nice addition, but won't last you very long. You can also play with a friend in local co-op, too, a cool extra that, for the reasons we're outlining, doesn't necessarily guarantee a lot of fun.

If the gameplay was up to snuff, this would be a serviceable game, with the only real complaint being its length. Unfortunately that's not the case, as even the basic play suffers from some critical flaws. First of all, this is one of very few shoot 'em ups not to feature an auto-fire function, which means that you can't hold down a button to automatically keep firing — you have to tap the fire button for every single shot you want to fire, which can get annoying quite quickly.

It also gets overly busy sometimes; in the later stages there'll be enemies, pickups and projectiles flying everywhere, with the already somewhat difficult to see enemy projectiles getting lost in the crowd and easily being able to hit you. This busyness also leads to another flaw, which comes in the form of the dreaded framerate issues, something you absolutely do not want to see in a shoot 'em up game. It's thankfully not very frequent, but it does occasionally skip a little, which can easily get you killed if it happens to occur at a bad time.

Finally, despite the good spritework and some decent music, this simply has this air of cheapness about it — aside from a sparce title screen and other menus, the enemies — with the possible exception of the bosses — are barely animated, with maybe 2 or 3 frames of animation each; there aren't even simple things like your character's sprite slightly changing when moving up or down. Hitting enemies barely results in any feedback, which makes you wonder if your shots are even doing anything, and at least one boss has a particularly inconsistent hitbox that made us question exactly what part we were trying to hit. The game doesn't seem like it's trying to be overly retro, so there was no need to skimp on things like this, especially considering the fact it's not a particularly sizeable product to begin with.


Ice Cream Surfer gets some of the basics right and offers players a crazy, wacky world, with colourful locales and varied, interesting enemies. Unfortunately, the game built around that world is just not particularly fun to play, with little challenge, poor presentation, some annoying gameplay quirks and almost no replay value. Had it spent more time in development or perhaps received more money from its crowdfunding campaign, this might have been an enjoyable title, but as it is right now it's best to keep it in the freezer.

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

User Comments (37)



Iggly said:

Why have you forsaken us Ice Cream? Would be nice if we can get some better shooters on the eshop than this game.



S3OL said:

I was actually turned off by the art style anyway. It didn't look appealing at all.
I wanted to like it but eh.



ULTRA-64 said:

What ever happened to the e shop demos?? Lots of interesting but far from perfect games coming out that are ideal for a quick play to test out first. It would be nice to have one for hyrule warriors in particular for me when that arrives.



rjejr said:

This game got a bad review, say it isn't so.

Just a couple hundred thousand more games like this and the Gamepad can start competing w/ tablets.



TheWPCTraveler said:

Can anyone please throw a good shmup at me? Come on, I'm starved for good shmups since my laptop isn't really good with its battery life,



odd69 said:

I love the art style, not much on shumps but i actually want to try it out.



Kilroy said:

@TheWPCTraveler The best the Wii U has is probably Nano Assault Neo, but there are dozens are good shmups on the Wii VC and WiiWare. And at the risk of sounding lazy, I'll only mention Summer Carnival '92 RECCA on the 3DS.



joey302 said:

What a shame...I like the concept/theme and love old school shooters...the eshop needs demos!!



SuperMikey said:

I thought you were supposed to fight veggies... What's up with the soda ridin' polar bears and french toast?



Smooty said:

So... yet another crappy game...
come on nintendo... where's that quality control? i bet you don't care anymore and just want to fill the eshop with whatever games you can get there >.>



sinalefa said:

This looked terrible all around since I first saw it. Even the premise gives the negative vibe to the veggies and put junk food as the best thing on earth. As if videogames weren't already blamed for a lot of child obesity.


For the Wii U to compete with tablets, it not only needs tons of shovelware, but it should be very cheap too. Physical inputs cannot bring the prices up like that



sinalefa said:


For me my favorite would be Scram Kitty on Wii U. It is not a vertical or horizontal shmup, but the freshness of the concept and the quality of the execution bought me on it. Still my Wii U eShop GOTY.



HylianJowi said:

The concept art is so cute... Shame it didn't translate to the finished product.



rjejr said:

@sinalefa - Maybe Nintnedo can make a new Gamepad w/o any buttons or sticks. The 3DS hasn't gotten a 2nd thumbstick, the 2DS took away the much bally-hoe'd 3D and stereo sound, might as well take away everything else and just leave the Gamepad screen. They can call it the "Wii U Touch"



dustin_g said:

i think this game looks like a fun time to blast through with a friend with snes style graphics at a 5 dollar price, i think it deserves like a 7, what do you expect for 5 bucks? maybe buy it to support 16 bit developers



Kilroy said:

@dustin_g A couple extra weeks of development time for balance and UX (user experience) tweaks would've done this game wonders. Support developers who think things through, not ones who merely slapped code together and called it a game.



StraTTtheRipper said:

Does anyone know if they any plans to release this or Gaiabreaker in the U.S.? I love shoot'em ups, no matter how bad they are!



tanasten said:

I'm liking the game. For me it's not as bad as put into the review. I'm having fun with it. Of course, is not great and even can't compare with Konami classics (so many lessons to learn from these...), however, for casual gaming the game is not that bad.



whatisyourforte said:

to the contrary, i just picked this up on Destura for Windows, and had a blast playing it (even if it only took me 30 min to beat). the graphics, premise, characters, etc. are all a BREATH OF FRESH AIR compared to all of the normal schmups we play everyday. Yes the game is rather easy, but there are many reasons to replay the same levels (try to get all the ICE CREAM letters). I agree that there could be more to round out the package, but for what it is....ice cream surfer is awesome.



ACK said:

This game is alright for a quick, simple schmup fix. It may even be a preferred choice if you hope to play co-op with a kid or significant other. It's on sale right now for $1.50 and for anyone with an affinity for basic, arcadey schmups and/or the saccharine aesthetic I'd give it a shot as a nice little co-op time-killer.

The only problem I have with it is that the enemy projectiles get lost in the menagerie of sugary colors.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...