Wave Break (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Neil Flynn 06.07.2021

Review for Wave Break on Nintendo Switch

There was a time in gaming where Tony Hawk was king, it was around the late 1990s and early-mid 2000s. It was quite insane to think that Activision, Neversoft and Vicarious Visions pumped out annual iterations for The Hawkman, and with little to no competition, sorry Skate fans. Not only is 2021 the year that Tony Hawk makes his triumphant return to a Nintendo platform, but it is also the year that Wave Break makes the jump from PC and Stadia to the popular handheld hybrid. What do the two have common? Read on to find out.

The parallels between the Tony Hawk series and newly released Wave Break are abundant; a checklist of goals, an awesome soundtrack, time limits on levels, and a huge number of inexplicable ramps, rails and halfpipes. The indie darlings at Funktronic Labs, from California, have evidently been inspired by the popular skating series but have added in a few flavourful subtleties of their own, the most obvious being that the game takes place on water. Wave Break, despite the aforementioned rambling homage to Tony Hawk, isn't a skateboarding game, it's a "skateboating" game. Rather than an up-and-coming set of west coast skaters, Funktronic Labls have taken the more cartoony approach by having the main protagonist be a cartoon bear. This isn't a friendly bear either; he is a criminal, foulmouthed and short tempered underlord called Big Pin. The premise of this title is to regain his turf, although the story can be easily ignored, as it is often just a few screens of text between each chapter.

Screenshot for Wave Break on Nintendo Switch

The campaign is set over five distinct levels, from a port side dock house to a Western themed canyon, there is enough variety between each of them. Every playthrough is bound by a three-minute timer with a set of tasks to complete, including high scores, finding hidden items, performing particular moves across gaps and performing combos. There are also a few NPCs which set ad hoc missions varying from performing tricks to committing cold-blooded murder. Random as it may sound, Wave Break contains handguns, shotguns, flamethrowers, machine guns and more, with the very purpose of shooting down others or burning down igloos! Having weapons is definitely quite unconventional for the genre, although the vast majority of the campaign doesn't really include the weapons, which is a shame considering the variety it offers up. However, the weapons do come into play in the death match multiplayer mode, which is exactly as it sounds; animals in speedboats shooting at each other, which can be played online or locally. Weapons are also included in the other online mode, score attack, allowing opponents to shoot down other combatants to stop them performing long combos.

Screenshot for Wave Break on Nintendo Switch

Unfortunately, there are a number of performance issues that somewhat hamper the experience, mainly clipping, such as characters falling through the levels to an abyss, getting stuck in between walls or just simply passing through halfpipes and other obstacles. There are also severe frame rate drops, stuttering and slow down issues in particular levels or during multiplayer matches. Some will look past these issues and others will be driven crazy by odd camera angles or clipping ruining a combo.
Wave Break also offers a few customisation options, including changing the appearance and clothing of the four playable characters, or various boats that can be purchased from the in-game store (using in-game currency). Character stats can also be purchased and upgraded in the store, improving each character's abilities. Gameplay options can be further tweaked in the menu, from a fully customisable camera to changing the throttle options on the boat. Creators will absolutely love that there is a rudimentary but useful park creator to fashion together a whole new level, but unfortunately with no ability to share levels or download community levels, which is a hugely missed opportunity.

Screenshot for Wave Break on Nintendo Switch

Aesthetically, Wave Break goes for a retro vibe, with an 80s fashioned colour scheme and a stellar licensed synthwave soundtrack. Oddly, Weezer, yes, of Buddy Holly fame, have not only a new song in the soundtrack and a random performance at the 2021 Summer Games Fest but also a dedicated stage. The Weezer level brings the total of playable areas up to six, although this feels more of an exhibition level in contrast with the campaign missions, with far fewer challenges and tasks. While the Weezer tie-in is certainly from left-field, it is indeed most welcome and sprinkles a certain star-power over Wave Break. The audio options allow for any of the 15 songs to be toggled on and off as well as having an option for stream-safe music for those playing Wave Break live on Twitch and YouTube.

Screenshot for Wave Break on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Wave Break has so many redeemable qualities, but for every positive there is a negative. Large diverse levels are hampered by the fact there are only six of them, fun fluid game play marred by jarring camera angles and frequent clipping, a rocking soundtrack only to be let down by performance issues such as frame drops. Underneath these issues is a fun homage to the Tony Hawks series, and fans will most certainly look past them while others would expect better.


Funktronic Labs


Funktronic Labs





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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