Ice Cream Surfer

Ice Cream Surfer Review

Eat your vegetables, kids

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a Wii U on

ESRB Everyone rating

Have you ever wondered how jealous vegetables are of ice cream? Wonder no more. Ice Cream Surfer dives head first into this hypothetical quandary and explores the depths of the issue in ways that will shake you to your core.

Ice Cream Surfer screenshot 1
A Yeti riding an ice lolly fights some mustachioed French toasts

The story involves a crown of broccoli who plans on ridding the universe of flavour so kids will finally enjoy eating their vegetables. Why does he want to be eaten? I sure wouldn't want to be if I were him. Anyway, you control a character from a cast of five that include a shirtless little boy, a Yeti, a super hero, a heroine, and a samurai. The game is a horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up in which you will encounter countless quirky enemies and quite a lot of them are laugh-out-loud ridiculous. The 2D graphics are reminiscent of the 16-bit era and look sharp yet a bit too pixelated. The music is cheerful and adds to the frivolity but it does get repetitive at times. Sound effects are quiet enough to not get annoying. However, there seems to be many sound effects missing as most are triggered by the player's actions yet enemies mostly remain mute. This is a problem as audio cues of enemy fire and other hazards are key to this genre of game. Characters have voices and react to events such as picking up items. This is done nicely and adds even more charm to the experience. Although Ice Cream Surfer is brimming with silly and colourful fun, it doesn't mean that it's a good game.

One thing in Ice Cream Surfer that's inexplicably bad is the user interface. It appears very simple which is good. The main menu only has new game, select level, and gallery. To select items you push X. Why X? I can't think of one other game where the top button on the controller is used to confirm. The game supposedly can either be played with the GamePad or a Wii remote. If you use a Wii remote in the menu then it assumes that you're holding it vertically yet the game is played while you hold it horizontally. By the way, you push B on the remote for confirmation and A to go back which is the exact opposite of what gamers are used to. If you use the remote to start a game then you will quickly realise that there is no way to select a character. When you realise this and push A to go back, it registers a second player joining. Now, when you push left or right it selects for player one and when you push up or down it selects for player two. At this point, if you push 2 then it confirms player two's character and there is no way to confirm a character for player one. Therefore, you are forced to use the GamePad and are unable to play a single player game with the Wii remote. How the developers messed up these simple menus as badly as they did defies all comprehension.

Ice Cream Surfer screenshot 2
Superman with an ice cream sandwich body teams up with a heroine on a popsicle

Controls in Ice Cream Surfer are very simple. You move around with the D-Pad and push a button to shoot and another button to perform a super attack. You cannot use the stick to control your character which seems like an oversight. Also, while playing with two players, player two can't pause the game. Why not? Anyway, as you shoot enemies they will drop many different collectables that include emeralds which charge the super attack, letters that spell "ice cream" which unlock illustrations for the gallery, and power-ups which may increase your firepower, put a shield around you, or provide a cupcake buddy who helps you out.

All of Ice Cream Surfer's components make it quite promising yet the game itself doesn't add up. There are only six short stages with a boss at the end of each. That's the entirety of the game. There are no other modes or even local leaderboards. A simple high score is shown at the top of the screen which I guess you can try to beat if you really wanted to. Another issue is that it's hard to tell where your character's hit-box is. Some characters will have bullets fly right through them while others will get hit without the player even knowing why. The loading screen is black with a cupcake in the middle who is simply saying "o". When I first saw it, I thought the game had crashed. All of these issues make Ice Cream Surfer a very difficult game to enjoy.

Ice Cream Surfer screenshot 3
A samurai battles a ramen monster

Ice Cream Surfer is a game that gamers with an off-the-wall sense of humour and a yearning for simple fun will want to enjoy but the many problems that it suffers from make it hard to. This being said, if you want to own a game to simply enjoy the crazy sense of humour then you can't go wrong with giving it a download. In other words, it succeeds as a charming piece of media but fails as a game.

  • + Fun and colourful graphical style with a goofy sense of humour
  • + It has 2 player co-op
  • - Very short game with only one mode
  • - Gameplay feels unpolished
  • - Menu controls are awkward and setup issues force you to play with the GamePad
3.2 out of 10
Gameplay video for Ice Cream Surfer 2:44

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