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Cool Boarders 4
"This sequel should feel as if we have been provided with a vastly improved product, but it's more like we are being squeezed for every cent they can get out of us."
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Developer  Idol Minds Game Type  Racing
Distributor  989 / Sony Review Date  Mar 00
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Setting the Scene:
 
      Rocky was a good movie. Not brilliant, but worth catching. It certainly didn't warrant four sequels.

Nightmare on Elm Street was a gripping horror yarn. It brought terror to our dreams and introduced us to sleepless nights. After the third version it dissolved into an awful TV series which still haunts us to this day.

The terrifying Friday The 13th was supposed to indicate the date of the month... not the number of follow ups.

Halloween. Ah, a John Carpenter classic. Sadly each October we are tortured, not by witches, ghosts and goolies, but by trash such as H²O.

You see where I'm coming from. The original game should have been enough... so why a Cool Boarders 4?

Genre:
 
      The game is a selection of tournaments held on a surface of snow and ice, that incorporates all the acrobatic tricks associated with winter sports. For the uninitiated, snowboarding has the participant surfing down a snow covered mountain with a plank of wood firmly strapped to their feet, wearing loud colored clothing and bragging about the size of their piste.

Sound and Vision:
 
      Barely 12 months ago I remember being blown away by the standard of visuals within Cool Boarders 3. On loading up this years offering the feeling was quite the opposite... flat as a snowboard in fact.

Tweaking and finely tuning the game engine is one thing but change for the sake of it usually ends up exploding in your own face. I'm not saying that 989 Studio have 'done a Formula 1 '98', more that they've over-tampered with a good product and created a bit of a mess.

Let's start with the characters. Last year the snowboarders took on more of a tight, cartoony appearance and the use of rich coloring and high resolution made them stand out against the realistic backdrops. This time around they are bigger, chunkier, and uglier and show more joints than a Woodstock reunion.

As the camera pans in at the start of an event the scenery is almost picturesque. No longer do the ski slopes appear as large chunks of glacier held together by a couple of ice cubes... we're talking continuous scenery here! Snow covered trees line the downhill route, while the force of the wind has actually left ripples on the untouched covering of snow.

Sadly much of the realism is ruined when the characters are combined with the scenery. The trail of snow dust that is whipped up behind the skiers is about as convincing as those cardboard cutout spectators. On many occasions connection with the side fencing will result in snagging. Worst of all when your character crosses over an area of fresh snow (not always possible to avoid) they will continue their journey for several moments buried waist high in deep now. Sound good? Looks crap! The snowboarder appears as if he has been sliced in half from the waist down.

The replay camera lets you stop the action mid-air, slow it down or speed it up. It also rotates 360 degrees to give you a bird's eye view of what you look like in the air. Unfortunately the camera often gets a little too close to the action for comfort and completely ruins the spectacle of watching a previous event.

The music in Cool Boarders 4 features "Dirty Hands" by hard rock artists Outer Circle. It's okay at first, but soon deteriorates into a background noise. The sound effects weren't up to much either with a few scraping sounds as the board scratched over the ice and plenty of "ooh's and ahh's" from the cardboard crowd
 
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