ISurf for IPhone

Some truly inventive developers have figured out how to take advantage of the iPhone's built-in accelerometer to let you control gaming action by tilting your iPhone or iPod touch every which way. Heavy Mach., for instance, is an example of a game that handles the tilt function to perfection.

iSurf from Amusement Cyanide, does not. In fact, for this $1 surfing game, use of the tilt function causes some serious control problems. As a result, the game is only fun for about five minutes; after that, all you'll think about is what could have been.

iSurf purports to be a "breathtaking" surfing game. You can choose from two different surfers (a caped dude and a granny with a paddle) and three fantasy locations. You control your direction by tilting the iPhone toward a wave. Supposedly, you can perform up to 40 different high-flying stunts by pressing a surfer board icon while in the air. (I only managed a handful of stunts.)

At times, iSurf is fun as you glide on the crest of a wave and pull off flips. The main problem with the game, though, is that once you have ridden a wave or watched your character juke on the surf board a few times, there are not other incentives to keep playing. Gameplay is weak, and the graphics are not really that compelling either.

A better surfing game would have offered a multi-player competition or better goals, such as a timed course where you have to pull off a set number of maneuvers. Instead, you're left with a game that ultimately delivers all the fun of a surfing in still waters.

[John Brandon is a 20-year veteran Mac user who used to run an all-Mac graphics department.]

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