Eurogamer 2013: Rad Boarding

When Temple Run charged onto iOS back in 2011 the endless runner spawned a new legion of fans as we busied our commutes jumping and power sliding through the rubble.  A few years later we were treated to a hotly anticipated sequel, but like the plethora of clones that popped up off of the back of the originals success it sorely lacked originality. Thankfully, Other Ocean Interactive – developers of the XBLA platformer South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge – has popped up to inject some life into a genre that was looking to disappear as quickly as it had surfaced with their new title Rad Boarding.

Launching on Android and iOS sometime in 2014 Rad Boarding follows Rod Geiger, a burnout 90’s rock star that, in the face of the Apocalypse, has decided to tend to his bucket list by grabbing his snowboard and hitting the slopes for one final epic ride as the world around him collapses.  It’s a unique and crazy setting that managed to bring a quizzical smile to my face.

There are four different environments on offer in Rad Boarding, and though I only got to check out one of them on the show floor, the HD graphics and quirky art style of the layered environments look gorgeous.  There’s also a perfect balance of activity in the levels, including falling meteorites and erupting volcanoes, that makes the environment feel alive but without distracting the player too much.

Adopting the same 2D camera angle seen in the original Super Mario Bro’s (and most other games from that period) Rod must snowboard from left to right across the screen traversing the peaks and troughs of the hilly environment.  Instead of using various directional flicks to navigate the landscape, players must press and hold down on the screen as Rod hits a downward slope in order to build up momentum and then release as he approaches an incline in order to pull of large jumps and gain speed.

At first it’s a tricky system to get the hang of, but once you get used to it you can start pulling off some amazing tricks with various directional flicks on the screen.  Chaining together a series of well-timed jumps at high speed becomes something quite beautiful to watch and as such provides a great deal of satisfaction as you’re far more involved in the characters movement and survival than other endless runners.  If you don’t quite land a jump in Temple Run, the character stumbles and you carry on your way, in Rad Boarding you really feel the loss of momentum as the lava flow chasing you barrels down on your position – it may be a less forgiving system, but it’s this that makes it more rewarding.

The game isn’t all about speed though, you’ll want to try and land as many tricks as possible in order to build up your Rad Meter, as when this is full you can pull off an Apocalypse Trick that can be used to get you out of a sticky situation.

Some might miss the presence of a levelling system or unlocks in order to keep them coming back to the game, but for a title that started out as a complex ski resort management simulation and was reined in as it got too complex, sometimes less is more.  Still, like many of the indie games at Eurogamer, Rad Boarding is still in the development stages and so more features and functions may find their way into the package over the coming months.

Regardless, none of this deters from the fact that what I played on the show floor was a unique, addictive and ultimately fun take on a genre that’s perhaps running out of ideas.