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Well… This is rather unexpected. Party Wave is the first mobile title from game development studio, Mistwalker. For those of you who don't know, Mistwalker is headed by the legendary game developer and creator of the Final Fantasy franchise, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Mistwalker has continued to put out RPGs with more classical design, and most of us were expecting an RPG on iOS as well. What we get instead is a novel and unique casual arcade title about group surfing, and it is surprisingly charming and well done! Apparently surfing is a passion of Sakaguchi-san, and this was a very personal project for him!
Anyway, each level is split up into two phases. The first is reminiscent of Flight Control, as you tap and drag surfers to a designated area before the wave arrives. You simply have to keep them from hitting reefs, rocks, sea creatures, or each other on the way. Once the wave arrives, you go into phase two, which has you tapping on surfers as they approach the bottom of the wave to send them back up. If they get low enough, they'll begin flashing, and tapping on them will make them catch big air. The closer to the bottom they get, the more points you get. As all this is happening, you also have to avoid tapping sea creatures.
You can only lose up to three surfers across both phases before it's game over. This is true whether you have two surfers or ten. The game can get very hectic and challenging at times, and it's actually much easier on an iPad with other people helping you. The game can have a hard time reading your taps, so when a surfer is directly over a jellyfish, you'll probably hit them both no matter how carefully you aim. As you progress, you'll also come across Hiso the Alien, who gives you stars which make your surfers invincible. Eventually, you'll unlock the very challenging yet fun arcade/time trial mode as well.
The cartoon visuals are colorful and fun. The tropical music is very soothing and relaxing, and you'll either love or hate the annoying whimsical sound effects. Whether we're talking about aliens, mermaids, or dogs on surfboards, this game has tons of personality and charm, and is quite fun, even if it's quite frustrating at times. It's not the RPG we were expecting, but I'd say it's more than worth a download. Party Wave is available for two dollars at the time of this review.