As a child I almost drowned in a small boat out fishing. Needless to say it scarred me, and to this day I have avoided most marine activities. I have never sailed, and I never will. Reading the wind, waves and currents are unknown areas in my world. When a game with the name Sailboat Championship showed up in the App Store I had to get it. Facing ones fears should be done in small baby steps, and hence I can now sail without the risk of drowning.
In Sailboat Championship you basically get a top down racer, but instead of supped up cars you get sailing boats. The controls consist of one large steering wheel that you control with your right thumb. The challenge in sailing comes to finding the correct racing line much like you do in the racecar as well. At times the best racing line goes far outside what you might expect as the wind is the most important factor affecting the speed. You can see how the wind hits your sail by how it is angled. Arrows also show the direction the wind is traveling. It is impossible to go straight against the wind. When I fail to read the wind, and get stuck I have to circle and get as much wind in my sail as possible.
Sailboat Championship is a hard game, at least for my landlubber ways. It is not a simulation though, but rather an arcade racer take on sailing. I guess some readers would like to have a realistic sailing experience on the iPhone. This, however, is a combination of Supercars and Drawrace.
The game progression is based on how well you do, and you have to level up with experience RPG style. At times there is quite a lot XP needed, and it strange grinding in a sailing game. As you level up you can increase your skill affecting speed, acceleration, handling and general skipper skills. New boats also become available, and you can go back to earlier races to beat the gold. Each level has bronze, silver and gold requirements. As some races require a certain number of stars attained by getting the more valuable metals you have to win a lot of hard races.
The presentation in Sailboat Championship is quite all right. Nothing that blows me away, and the water could probably look better. Still it looks quite realistic, and organic. It is easy to “read” the sail, and for most levels it is easy to understand where to sail. There are some weird English translations here and there, but nothing that impedes understanding.
The music is light modern electronica, and you can play your own music as well. Once out sailing the sounds of the wind are well made, and I can almost taste the salt in the air.
Sailboat Championship has got Openfeint integration catering for online functionality, and achievements. The game comes with 9 stages, 6 ships, two rescue missions and a total of 33 gold stars to collect.
Worth noting is that the lite version is the training version mentioned in the full game. The full game still comes with a couple of screens worth of tutorial though.
I have found myself playing Sailboat Championship quite a lot. It is an enjoyable little racer that I feel myself getting better at all the time. Racing against the AI is really fun as it is varied, and you can actually tackle them off course. It takes some getting used to the wind factor, and not just go for the quick turn. Once that has been learnt you get an arcade racer that is both challenging and rewarding. Try the lite version first to see if you are ready to sail, and be king of the world.