Time Surfer

August 12, 2013

When I first heard of Time Surfer, it was in title only and I wasn’t sure what to expect. A game about Keanu Reeves’ character in Point Break going back in time to stop Patrick Swayze? A reading comprehension app that sees you reading a TIME article on the website and answering questions afterwards? Boy, what I got was nowhere close to my original ideas, and I’m glad for it. Instead, Time Surfer, by Melbourne indie studio Kumobius, is an endless runner game akin to Tiny Wings, but with a lot more depth and replayability.

Gameplay is simple, with the goal of the game to travel as far across the psychedelic planetary landscape as possible. Like Tiny Wings, it’s largely a timing-based affair; by tapping the right side of the screen, your character crouches on his board, allowing him to use the downhill slopes to gain speed. Gain enough speed and you’ll scoot uphill, flying up across the sky. However, Time Surfer adds challenge and complexity by adding a number of elements. First of all, there’s the occasional gap between islands, with a fair bit of speed required to get safely over them. There are spikes, which remain stationary and the End of the Universe, a giant, glowing entity that steadily approaches you from the left side of the screen; both will kill you as soon as you touch them. There are also moving obstacles in the form of aliens and asteroids to look out for; hitting them from the side will slow you down, but bouncing on them from above (ala Mario) will boost your speed and height. It’s a little annoying that aliens and asteroids are sometimes placed in ways that make it impossible to get past them without plummeting off a cliff; I ran into many situations where braking before I hit them or crashing into them would still end in the same result. After all, given how fast the game is, foresight is something players don’t have the luxury of.

time surfer

Fortunately, a lot of your screw-ups can be remedied by Time Surfer‘s key feature – the ability to rewind time. However, this ability is limited, as indicated by a bar at the top of the screen. The amount of time you can rewind is fairly generous, but use it frequently to get past an obstacle and you might suddenly find you have none left. Earning it back is fairly easy though and can be done by collecting the gems scattered around the stage or a power-up which will replenish the whole meter. In addition to this, there are a couple of other power-ups that float around the level, such as one that forms a magnet around to help collect gems, and one that gives you a significant speed boost.

There are also a number of ‘pets’ you can bring along on your wild ride which grant special abilities and cost you the in-game currency of cakes each round you decide to activate them. The pets are quite varied in terms of abilities, such as the rock bug, which will protect you from one spike (especially useful in Hell Zone, the game’s version of hard mode) and the dragon, who will give you a huge initial speed boost. Pets are unlocked as you complete missions, which vary in difficulty – right now, for example, I doubt I have the skill to be able to pull off dying ’10 times in one game’, meaning I’ll need to master rewinding time to be able to even scratch that number. If you’re vain, you can opt to spend cakes on various flairs (the trail behind your surfer) and costumes for yourself, the aliens and various other visual elements of the game. These help enhance the already amazing personality and charm the game embodies, accompanied by an awesome and heinously catchy soundtrack.

time surfer

Time Surfer has everything a great mobile game should – quick, easily accessible gameplay, but with lots of replayability. Add a $0.99 price tag, a heaping of charm and top-notch aesthetics and you have a must-buy mobile game.


Fun and compelling gameplay | Psychedelic visuals | Catchy music


A tad too luck-based

Overall Score: