3D Sailing Simulator Regatta is an game in which you control a small sailboat in round-the-buoys races. You can set many options about the race course, and once you start your race against the five other boats, you steer with one thumb or finger while trimming the sail in or out with another.
What makes this game both realistic and fun to play is the sailing physics. Turn up into the wind and you'll stall in irons. Choose the best course downwind on a broad reach for maximum speed. Watch the sail's telltale to trim best for your point of sail. And watch that your sail isn't blanketed by the sail of a nearby boat that steals your wind!
Version tested: 1.101 - Android only - $1.99
Tested on Lenovo 7-inch tablet running Android 2.3
Because of the many user options and the complications of controlling a small boat on a race course, it's important to read the help screens first. Fortunately they are quite good (and can be accessed on your computer too), including a video tutorial.
Basic starting options include choices of:
- 2 locations
- 6 courses
- 4 numbers of laps
- 3 choices of wind shifts
- 3 difficulty levels
Operating features include:
- Red arrow indicates wind direction
- Yellow arrow points toward next mark
- Tiller and sails touch controls
- Sail telltale indicates trim
- Pause any time and "look around" at course and other boats
- Penalties assessed for hitting a mark or another boat (right of way matters)
Sailing physics at work:
- Boat heel and speed correlate to point of sail and sail trim
- Wind can be blanketed by sails of other boats upwind
- Changing land features ahead help you stay oriented to direction and position on the course
Gamers who have never sailed a small boat or raced a dinghy face a steep learning curve, even if you study the help screens first. If you jump right in without knowing much about sailing and without studying the game's functions, you'll really be lost.
The one variable you have little control over is the speed of the race. Once you start, the boats are zooming and your fingers have to act fast. True, you need only release your touch from the tiller to pause the game and take stock of what you're doing and your position on the course, but whenever the race is going, the boats are moving pretty fast and you're likely to make some wild mistakes before you finally get the hang of it. This is the number one complaint from other reviewers: the game runs too fast on some devices (apparently does not compensate for clock speed). I'm guessing it runs more manageably on older Android phones and devices.
The developer's web site promises a new "extra slow learn to sail mode" in the next version, which should solve this initial difficulty while also making this a great game for nonsailors.
The graphics of the sailboats themselves are simplistic - yet you don't really need visual detail here to enjoy the game.
One nice thing about this app for those with little gaming experience (and slow eye-hand coordination) is that at the easiest level you can soon beat at least some other boats. This helps motivate you to keep going until you get your moves down better and prevents the frustration many experience with the Sailboat Championship Pro game, where you have to repeat the same race over and over and over until you gain enough skill to move on.
I like Regatta much better than Sailboat Championship Pro in a number of other ways too, mostly because it gives you more sailing control and options. For iPhone and iPad users, Little Sailor is an even better simulator app.
As one who doesn't spend much time playing video games, I found Regatta a bit addictive once I got into it. I especially liked the mini-triangle course where the boats don't have much chance to spread out and where rounding buoys in a crowd produces some of the excitement that really happens in dinghy racing.
For more information and screen shots, check the developer's website.