Occasionally a game comes along that’s just so out there, you just know that you have to play it. So it was with Wave Break, a game that takes the structure of Tony Hawks Pro Skater, sets it at sea, and has you driving boats instead of riding boards. Funkotronic Labs have then heaped it with layers of 80’s nostalgia, a host of cute characters, and given them guns and GTA-styled missions. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Well, sometimes it is.
When I say it’s Tony Hawks at sea, it is Tony Hawks at sea. Terming this entirely new concept of Skateboating, Funkotronic have actually managed to make it feel natural that you’re trying to perform kickflips flying out of the ocean, while aiming to grind a speedboat around the edge of a pool. It’s testament to the strength of both the concept and the execution that it manages to be so playable.
The campaign sees you handed a classic list of objectives, breaking out from the simple high score targets with a batch of increasingly difficult tasks. There’s Tony Hawks-aping ones like grabbing all the letters in BREAK, or finding all the hidden cash, but then there’s also a batch of GTA-styled missions to complete that feature multiple parts. Manage to complete enough of the objectives and you’re onto the next level, with four in total.
It’s loveably scrappy. The chunky, bright visuals and each level’s animal inhabitants are fun and characterful, while the skateboating is genuinely good fun, even if there are a few rough edges here and there. The biggest issue is the inconsistent grinding, which ultimately makes it too hard to reliably lean on when building combos.
The campaign relies on grinding to complete a good portion of the challenges, turning progression into a laborious affair once you’ve done away with what you probably consider the ‘fun’ challenges, and it’s a real shame. The skateboard style grabbing, flipping and tricking is genuinely as good as anything from the classic Tony Hawks games, but the grinding needs retuning.
Besides that, it’s all camera woes. The outdoor action is more or less perfect, but heading inside causes all sorts of confusion. That extends to the replay function in the multiplayer mode; a great idea, and occasionally a super cool way to check out your decimation of some other silly bear folk in a boat, but when it spends half the time submerged in Wave Break’s water you’re going to be calling in a rescue boat. Hopefully these are issues that Funkotronic Labs can work on, as the core experience is addictive and fun.
There’s a multiplayer mode as well, offering the chance to go head to head with up to three friends. There’s four player local splitscreen if you happen to have the required equipment, but as a Stadia title it’s more likely that you’re going to be hopping into the online mode.
Competition is somewhat sparse right now, even a day after launch, but the players that I was able to find put up a good fight. You’re not just aiming to perform more high scoring tricks than they do, but also to machine gun them to death – that’s certainly one way to stop a combo. You’ll definitely want to play the multiplayer though, as it helps to bring in cash to upgrade your character, as well as open up access to various customisation options.
Wave Break has one of the best soundtracks of any game this year. It might be helped by the fact that I love Synthwave, and the modern resurgence of 80’s infused music, but Funkotronic have curated an incredible line-up of tracks, from artists like Tonebox, Norman Bambi and my new favourite band, WOLFCLUB. I just wish there were a few more tracks, but that’s probably greedy.