Same name, new mountain.
Porting games across three systems is no easy task, but EA has decided to go for the hat trick with SSX Tricky. Though it's not as solid as the original PS2 version, the Gamecube iteration captures most of the good qualities and offers GC owners a pretty strong port.
The first thing you'll notice, though, is the lack of the DVD content available in the Xbox and PS2 versions. It's not a big shock since the Gamecube doesn't support DVD-ROMS, but those of you with an interest in developer diaries and extensive behind the scenes footage might be let down with this version. At least they including a brief 'making of' interview.
The menu navigation is all 3D, which lends a nice bit of immersion even before you're playing. Which isn't to say that the gameplay lacks the immersive qualities of the original. Far from it. SSX Tricky keeps the core gameplay intact while adding a few new elements to keep things new.
The main addition is the 'Uber Trick.' When your boost meter gets filled to the max, you can perform insane Uber tricks that rack up tons of points. Nail 5 Uber tricks during a race and you'll have infinite boost until the race ends. Landing the Ubers is tough, though, since they're pretty wild and take time to complete. Boarders will twirl the boards around their heads, grab the boards by the edges and swing them like bats, and even flip them horizontally and breakdance on them...all while sailing through the air. If you thought some of the moves in the original were over-the-top, you have no idea.
Like the Xbox version, the GC version omits one of the grab buttons. This is due to the controller differences, which is somewhat excusable on the GC since the GC controller has one fewer button than the PS2 dual shock. If you haven't played the PS2 version, you probably won't notice, but it does take away some of the tricks.
As before, you have to trick to get boost power, though this time around you're also rewarded for knocking down your opponents. It's a nice, easy, violent way to power up to an Uber trick. However, a newly introduced 'Friend or Foe' dynamic adds some trepidation. Each racer is either considered a friend, an enemy, or neutral. Whack 'em too much and a neutral or friend will become an enemy, and thereafter will not hesitate to jump on your head or force-feed you a knuckle sandwich. It's a decent check and balance.
Speaking of balance, you'll need plenty of it to handle the brutal, twisting courses. Though only two new courses are here (the novice Garibaldi and the intense Alaska course), the old ones have been redesigned with maximum trick madness in mind. New paths, new turns, new shortcuts and plenty of new jumps make for courses that are familiar to SSX vets, but not carbon copies.
While the redesigns are more challenging than the original versions, they're still built from the same mold, and you can't help but wish they added more new tracks, period. Given, the Gamecube version of SSX Tricky is the first SSX to appear on the GC and is technically not a sequel, but you'd still expect more brand new tracks.
I also would have liked a new game mode. As it stands, it's still just Race or Showoff. Get medals to open up new tracks and boards and perform tricks from the Trick book to get new outfits. Pretty standard fare.
The graphics are a mixed bag. The colors on the Gamecube are very vibrant and full, a noticeable improvement over the Xbox version. However, the framerate is not as high as the other versions and the textures lack polish. The terrific animations and neat light-sourcing are still here, however, and on the whole this is a good-looking game. It's just not as good-looking as its brothers.
Things are up to speed aurally with plenty of techno beats. I'm a big fan of old-school Run D.M.C., but it gets a little redundant hearing the sample 'It's Tricky!' every time you land an Uber trick. Maybe they should have also sampled 'You Talk Too Much.'
Six new characters have been added to the original gang, each of whom has unique Uber tricks. Despite loads of attitude, the witticisms are distinctly less witty after you hear them for the 25th time. Token afro-guy Eddie, voiced by the mildly annoying David Arquette, is, in fact, mildly annoying.
This game just screams for more user customizability. How about a create-a-boarder feature? You'll find that in just about every other snowboarding game under the sun and it really would have been terrific in SSX Tricky.
The Gamecube version of SSX Tricky manages to retain the most important quality of the PS2 version - the fun - despite having a few flaws. This is a very good game, and while it's not quite as polished as the PS2, it's still worth the money for Gamecube owners.