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A.P.I Review: X-Games Pro Boarder
Developer: Radical Entertainment /ESPN Digital Games OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1-2 Player
Game Type: Snowboarding Memory Card
Review Date: April 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

X-Games Pro Boarder has been developed by Radical Entertainment for Disney's ESPN Digital Games. Players can ride as top snowboarding pros, including five-times World Champion Terje Haakonsen, X Games gold medallists Tina Basich, Peter Line and Todd Richards, Olympic medallist Shannon Dunn and Daniel Franck or freeriding champions Morgan Lafonte and Jamie Lynn. Not only can players ride like a pro, but they can also look like one as well when they jump on '99 factory boards and suit up in the latest gear from many top designers.

Each pro worked closely with ESPN Digital Games to integrate his or her own style and signature moves into the game and helped create the 2,013 trick combinations they dare not try on the slopes - from huge 1440° to Judo 720°s.

Sound & Vision

X Games Pro Boarder opens up with a splendid movie-like intro where each of the real life boarders who appear in the game are captured on video displaying the skills of which they are attributed.

One of the high points of X Games is the brilliant soundtrack. It totally compliments the frantic on screen action and keeps those feet tapping throughout the entire duration of play. One of the best PSX soundtrack's I've experienced includes artists such as Foo Fighters, Lunatic Calm, Epitaph's NOFX, Rancid and Pennywise.

In-game there is much to be admired. The characters move so fluidly as they weave and jump their way down the challenging courses. Each leap into the air sees their arms spread out like an eagles wings as they struggle to maintain balance (reminding me of the movie Karate Kid). Landing is accompanied by a small puff of rising snow dust to complete the overall effect. The snow effect on the mountains is a smooth as cotton wool which along with scenery can be compared to the more favorable snowboarding titles such as Cool Boarders 3. Pine trees line the route, moving cable cars pass above, while trucks, ploughs and helicopters are used as platforms to launch acrobatic trick moves.

Unfortunately every graphical good point is shrouded in painful annoyances. Pop-up and glitching are present in abundance with much of the scenery being thrust up in front of your face much too late to react. Trees constantly appear... and then disappear... before suddenly reappearing once again when least expected. The number of times my skier completely left the scenery was unbelievable. In fact I am sure I once leapt from the X Games screen and landed next door in Crash Bandicoot 2. Let's not beat around the bush here... it should be a criminal offence when poor camera control ruins an otherwise splendid looking game.

Playability

Snowboarding games have often been accused of having a confusing control system when some of the trick moves involved ridiculous 46 button combos to pull them off successfully. Those players should begin playing on Amateur mode which gives users access to the most complicated moves via a two-button control. Once the initial test is passed players can move towards pro status where they can select the eight-button mode to take complete control over every twist and turn in the air. The D-pad is used to steer the boarder and speed up or slow down.

X Games Pro Boarder features nine levels of play requiring a balance between performing skillful tricks and pure aggressive riding. Game modes include One Player, Head-to-head and Circuit. There are eight riders to choose from and four snowboards with differing attributes in speed, carving and tricks.

Once you are all tooled up it is time to select which challenge you prefer to face first. Slopestyle involves performing as many tricks as possible while veering down a snowbound obstacle course. Stadium is basically a steep ski slope with one launching pad at the end where the player is catapulted into the air and multiple acrobats are performed for points. Halfpipe is a U-shaped ski run where tricks again are performed from the sides of the half-pipe. Mt Baker Gap involves tearing down a ramp and being thrust high into the air. Midnight Express is an extremely testing downhill course.

Opinion
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: 13/20 In gameplay terms X Games Pro Boarder doesn't really offer much that hasn't already been done, often more successfully.

I quite enjoyed a few attempts at the trick levels Halfpipe, Stadium, Slopestyle and Mt Baker Gap but I found the downhill racing of Midnight Express so frustrating. The amount of times my skier got jammed solid in a section of scenery was ridiculous.
SOUND: 9/10
PLAYABILITY: 35/50
VALUE: 14/20
OVERALL 71%

 

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