Based on the famous animated film, "The Dolphin Tale" by Bill Plympton, "Ride Your Wave" is a fun educational video game for all ages. Aired on April Fool's Day, this classic game was one of the first to use voice acting and is known for its timely humor and excellent production values. Surf-loving high school student Hinako should find new purpose and joy in life after an accidental tragedy results in the untimely death of her beloved firefighter boyfriend, Minato. With a chance at redemption, she embarks on a deadly journey across the globe to discover the reason for her untimely demise and to enlist the aid of a mysterious, super-intelligent dolphin she meets in Japan.
One of the best features of this popular educational video game is its amazingly entertaining single player gameplay, which blends seamlessly with the style of the late arcade/strategy game series and is available from start to finish, making it one of the few animated films that can be played from start to finish. The video game also features an excellent list of music, including the popular theme song from the movie. The game progresses through a number of levels, which are appropriately designed to teach players about a variety of key points in the plot. The first level is particularly poignant, as it teaches the player about the value of friendship, as well as the importance of staying true to oneself in order to reach a goal. The second level offers a sense of urgency, as Hinako must learn to overcome her fear of riding waves and the unexpected while uncovering a dangerous secret in Japanese.
As the game progresses, you will be able to take a closer look at the mysterious Dolphin Man, as well as learn more about the mysterious Dolphin Kiss. With each level, the game takes a more significant role in unraveling the mystery behind the tragic death of Minato and Hinako's romance, and it is exciting to see how the various pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. For example, one of the unlockable items at the end of the third level comes with a dolphin-shaped coin. You will need to make sure you have the correct code to use this coin, which will open up a door into the fourth level, where you will find yourself again in pursuit of the lovely Dolphin Man.
The majority of the game is spent on building up your trust of Hinaka, as she slowly becomes your confidante throughout the entire game. One of the main attractions of the game is the stunning 'lipstick' art that is used for the dialog boxes and to really bring home the point that Hinaka is actually a beautiful girl, and not just a 'beauty-in-waiting'. Throughout the game, you will be asked to re-visit some of the earlier scenes, and spend time thinking about your relationship with Hinaka. As you re-visit these scenes, you will be presented with a different version of Hinaka, and her expressions will reveal much about how she feels about you. In particular, think about what it was that attracted you to her in the beginning of the game - is there something about her that still holds your interest? By placing the focus back on the girl you love, you will be able to focus your attention and energy on that person, and spend more time feeling genuinely close to her.
There are a number of other characters to meet, and over the course of the game you will be introduced to all of them. Meet the other adventurous Wave riders and find out what happened to them after your romantic excursion with Hinaka. Spend some time with other of your favorite heroes, including one of your childhood friends, and learn more about their relationships. The final scenes of the movie to introduce you to some of the local townsfolk, and tell the story of how they came to be part of your world (as seen through the eyes of the locals). These are some of the best cut scenes in any game, and definitely take the cake when it comes to creating a movie scene and giving it meaning.
Overall, this is a fantastic game. The scenes are beautifully illustrated, the acting is great, and the story is simple but entertaining. You will spend time understanding the cast, getting to know some of the local characters, and generally just having a lot of fun during your quest to save Hinaka. If you like adventure games that also give you tips on how to develop romance along the way, then you definitely need to check out Koiji Aoki and the Forest for One more time. You won't regret it!