Thursday, February 22, 2018
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A Timeline of the Best, Most Significant Surfing-Based Video Games

We now live in a digital world brimming with highly addictive online games and easily accessible holiday destinations.

Basically, in a fast-paced world full of state-of-the-art technological advancements, it looks like the popular surfing console games of the past didn’t really have the opportunity to make it big. In other words: the short, but cult classic-like, history of surfing-based video games were way ahead of their time. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a little nostalgic looking back at these wonderful titles.

Although from a gaming perspective, the surfing genre may not be the most popular in terms of market reach that doesn’t mean that hardcore gamers don’t get super excited by new releases. For example, Climax Studios, a European-based gaming company, recently announced a new title called Surf World Series for the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. While these releases aren’t as frequent as other sports games, they definitely have their market – albeit a very niche one.

But we aren’t here to look at new games today – instead let’s direct our attention to the past and rekindle the fun times we had playing these surfing video games. Here’s a rundown of some of the best, most significant surfing titles over the last couple of decades.

California Games (1987)

Epyx’s iconic sports compilation title, California Games, was the first to feature a bona fide surfing-based video game. Originally developed for Apple II and Commodore 64 users, it soon made its way into the Nintendo Entertainment System and Master System. Aside from the surfing option, California Games also featured popular American extreme sports such as BMX riding, skateboarding, and roller-skating. It even had – what we know today as Ultimate Frisbee – flying disc. However, the surfing mode was still head and shoulders above all the rest, as aside from having easy-to-navigate controls, it featured an occasional shark attack after a wipe out.

Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer (2002)

Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer was to surfing, what Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was to skateboarding: a timeless, dedicated extreme sports console game. Up to this day, gamers of all kind can still get a kick out of playing it, either on an actual PlayStation 2 or GameCube or Xbox console. They’ll even have a blast manoeuvring it on an emulator. In short, Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer dominated the likes of Transworld Surf and Sunny Garcia Surfing. Furthermore, it helped that the game’s soundtrack was amazing, featuring artists from Pearl Jam to Jack Johnson, and Quantum Dub Force to Ben Harper.

YouRiding (2011)

The significance and emergence of mobile gaming was greatly underlined with the development of YouRiding. Compared to the aforementioned console games, its surfing mode had more comprehensive controls yet still embraced the simplicity of the actual sport. In more ways than one, it revolutionised portability and convenience in gaming, as players could enjoy it anywhere they went. Along with mobile gaming operators Slingo, and its surf-centric title Wipeout, YouRiding is part of a small albeit equally passionate community of gamers. It may not be as iconic as other surfing games of the past, but it more than makes up for it with its gameplay.

In spite of these fresh revelations, surfing games still fall behind the likes of the way more established football, basketball, and mixed martial arts franchises. It’s even safe to say that our beloved sport isn’t nearly in the same conversation as these aforementioned ventures. Considering the dynamics of surfing-based video games and how it’s straightforwardly translated to consoles, it’s a travesty that very few people appreciate the excitement of it. But, looking at everything from a different standpoint, one thing remains certain: there’s simply a small, specialized market for these types of games.

Kate Webster
Kate Webster
Kate Webster is a travel journalist - travel writer and photographer who travels the globe in search of vivid imagery and compelling stories that capture the essence of the places she visits. Born out of a life-long love of travel and fascination with the world around her, is Kate's inspiration behind her writing and photography. A passion of the ocean has lead Kate to be a part of Global Surf Sounds, as she continues to mix her love of travel and writing to now include surfing. When she’s not bouncing around the world on ramshackle buses, overcrowded trains, or on the back of a rickshaw, you can find her based in Sydney or the Gold Coast, Australia eagerly planning her next adventure.

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