Robert Casperson’s Bionic Surfer is one of those indie gems we really wish we saw more of on the App Store–a fun, professionally polished game with a sense of humor to boot. Those in the mood for a platformer with lots of puzzles and hidden treasures are in for a treat.
No shirt, no shoes, no problem! Bionic Surfer is a dude on a mission–to save Earth and its colonies from an alien invasion. You’re plucked off the beach (still in board shorts), handed a laser rifle, and told to get busy collecting Kaon Crystals by some Agent K-looking suit. His government-issue non-answers to Bionic Surfer’s completely reasonable questions make for comic relief.
The game has five areas, divided into four levels each. The crystals are cached throughout the levels and carried by enemies, and you have to collect at least 10 of them to activate the teleporter to the next level. The last level in each area is a boss fight against a gigantic, plasma-spewing insect. Bionic Surfer can’t usually go toe-to-toe against these guys, so you have to resort to guerrilla tactics instead.
Bionic Surfer has access to a wide array of weapons, from the unlimited laser rifle to plasma guns, flak cannons, rocket launchers and beyond. They all auto-target to the nearest enemy, so you can concentrate on dodging around enemy fire. You can also aim manually by holding down the “look around” button and sweeping the screen with your finger.
This is an awesome feature for sniping enemies and solving the game’s many environmental puzzles. The huge, multi-storied levels are littered with explosive barrels, jump puzzles, teleporters, switches, moving platforms, and booby-trapped doors. The game’s a big physics playground, in other words, and the coolest weapon of all is a gravity gun (similar to the one in Half-Life 2) that lets you move loose objects around.
The cramped touch-button controls are kind of bogus, though. The developer should think about making them bigger and spacing them out around the screen, to prevent accidental presses. Also, we’d like to see a quick-change button for weapons, instead of having to stop the action to visit a menu.
Overall, Bionic Surfer’s a breath of fresh air. It looks great, the techno soundtrack’s fun, and there’s really a lot of game here. It’s well worth the current sale price of a dollar; we’d be okay paying three or four bucks for this tubular interplanetary romp.