In case you're not aware (and we can't blame you) chain surfing is an "extreme" street-sport which involves balancing on a hanging chain-fence strung between two posts, for as long as possible, whilst possibly performing tricks.
Words can't do this strange activity justice, so check out the clip below, for a little introductory chain surfing demonstration:
Chain Surfer [$2.99] has been released for iOS devices, so now you can go chain surfing from the comfort and safety of your own sofa. This is the first release from developers 4:20 Digital, but the graphics, animations and sound-track are all pretty solid, which is surprizing as I thought this might be a joke game, given the unusual premise. Mind you, if balancing on a beam and doing flips can be an Olympic gymnastics event, then who's to say that someone balancing on a wobbly chain, outside the supermarket at night is a lesser sport?
The controls are a mix of tilting and gesture recognition. You start by tilting the device lift-and-right to get the chain swinging, then once you're achieving some decent height and momentum, you can bust out some tricks by drawing the appropriate gestures with your finger. For example, a downwards swipe does a 'hang-10', a left-right swipe pulls a 'front side 360', while drawing a circle performs a 360 degree flip in that direction. Skaters will be familiar with the moves.
The gesture recognition is pretty good, but not perfect, with some gestures needing to be repeated. Although to be fair it's difficult to know if that's my fault, or the game. Perhaps more practice is required. Before playing, you can try-out the tricks in the "Tricktionary" screen (that's right, trick + dictionary = trickionary). This screen lists all 14 moves and the associated finger gestures, some of which involve both taps and swipes. The gesture has to be completed while you're nice and high, or you'll wipe-out and eat some concrete.
There's three modes of play, although only Arcade mode is unlocked initially. Specific tricks are requested, and the necessary gestures are listed on the screen to help you out. Freestyle mode requires no tilting as the chain sways automatically, letting you focus on gestures and choosing your moves to gain high-scores by doing trick-combos. The hard part is that combos only occur if you don't repeat the same move within 2 tricks. And finally, "Against the Clock" mode gives you two-and-a-half minutes to show-off for points, with extra time awarded for tricks and combos.
The tilt-and-gesture controls are an uncommon combination, because when you're busy tilting your device, it's difficult to suddenly draw gestures accurately. The player must suddenly stop tilting, scribble a quick gesture which ends at the peak of their swinging motion, then quickly return to tilting. Unfortunately, this combination of controls was always likely to feel awkward. And it does. For this reason I prefer Freestyle mode, which has no tilting.
Chain Surfer has Game Centre and Openfeint integration for the three game modes and two difficulty levels plus 25 achievements. The difficulty levels are amateur and professional, although let's get serious, there's no professionals; surely no-one is getting paid to chain surf out there! (…Are they?) Although, next time you see a chain fence, I bet some of you will be tempted.
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