“Welcome to Ice Cream Surfer.  Are you ready to free the universe from the Evil Vegetables?”

Ice Cream Surfer is worth at least one point on name alone!  This humorous shooter has a nonsensical plot about evil broccoli wanting to destroy sweets so kids will only eat vegetables – which is actually self-defeating, but Ice Cream Surfer isn’t the type of game to emphasize story.  It’s a kid friendly game designed to provide brief stretches of entertainment, and I think it manages to pull it off overall.

There are five quirky characters you can select from, with a one or two sentence back story in the manual.  Two are suggested for beginners, two for the experienced, and one for experts.  There are no difficulty settings, but the game is pretty easy until the final world, especially if playing with a friend.  For the intended younger audience it’s a perfectly acceptable challenge, especially without the threat of flying into any background scenery.  I can see kids wanting to replay this game with each character.

Ice Cream Surfer 1Your starting weapons are slow and weak so powerups are a must, especially against the bosses.  You can strengthen up to five levels by collecting popsicles.  Emeralds you collect go towards your super attack, and there are a few other trinkets to keep an eye out for.  Notable ones are spoons which summon a computer controlled ally to assist you, and letters that unlock cool concept illustrations in the gallery.

Ice Cream Surfer screensThe visuals convey a sense of fun and whimsy.  Colorful and varied, with interesting scenery and enemies, these graphics make it enjoyable to progress through each locale.  Everything looks good on the Wii U gamepad as well.  The graphics succeed on an artistic level only though, as there are some technical issues.  Lack of definition and sharpness, some small sprite work, and a surprising amount of slowdown damper the experience.  These 16-bit style visuals do offer a retro feel, but only some of it is a positive.

Ice Cream Surfer 3Ice Cream Surfer has plenty for me to appreciate (I didn’t even mention the great soundtrack!) but it certainly isn’t without some sizable shortcomings.  My main concern being that projectiles are so tiny (and at times poorly colored) it’s remarkably easy to lose sight of them amongst the busy backdrops.   Various stats are provided after you finish a level, but bizarrely will vanish before you can read them all, replaced by empty loading screens.  Other oversights are lack of auto fire, d-pad only support (with no classic controller option) and a shortage of levels at just six.  Ice Cream Surfer is a too brief affair, and lacking in some polish.  Some of these areas can be addressed with a patch, which thankfully has already been submitted!  New material is being planned too.

In spite of its issues, I think Ice Cream Surfer is actually better than the sum of its parts.  I enjoyed my time with it, and am certain kids would even more so.  If you’re looking for a gentler shooter that the whole family can enjoy, Ice Cream Surfer has plenty to warrant a look, especially at just $5.00.I ce Cream Surfer banner