This game features a penguin on a surfboard. What else do you need to know?
If you missed Pop Island (a cute, blocky capture the flag game with Download Play) on DSiWare, then you skipped the best eight-player DS game this side of Mario Kart. It’s no surprise, then, that Odenis Studio, the French developer behind Pop Island, makes a solid debut on the eShop with Rising Board 3D, an endless runner game that works well on the 3DS.
Rising Board 3D is simple and easy to dive into. After a short tutorial, you’re taken right to the meat of the game: randomly generated endless levels with collectables, obstacles, and more. The controls make good use of the Circle Pad, which you use to control your character and perform tricks in the air in conjunction with the A and B buttons. You have to time your jumps to go into tricks carefully, since the waves coming your way can either boost or stunt your prospective air.
Looking at the game and its basic mechanics, Rising Board seems like nothing more than an iOS game, but thanks to the Circle Pad and buttons, it has more depth than your usual endless runner. (Also, there is literally more depth, since it’s not just on a side-scrolling 2D plane and you can move around in 3D space.) Unfortunately, the 3D effect doesn’t make much of a difference in the gameplay, despite the fact that it could help out a lot. When you land after jumping, it can be difficult to figure out where you’re going to hit. I had too many instances where I thought I was in the clear, but wound up coming down near land or an obstacle, thus ending my run.
The game does a good job of keeping you involved and avoiding downtime. Most runs end with a quick mini-game where you can double your coins, and then you can go right back into the action. There are eight boards to unlock and upgrade, and if you want to upgrade them all, it’ll take a considerable amount of repetitive play. Luckily, the boards feel different and give you tangible boosts when used.
Rising Board 3D is a fantastic pick-up-and-play game that shows how the 3DS can make those quick mobile experiences normally found on iOS and Android into something similar yet different, and reminds me of games such as Balloon Fight (specifically Balloon Trip) and NiGHTS. The convenience of a Circle Pad makes this game work well, and while it might not last too long, it’s worthwhile if you’re craving a light, fun experience.