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.
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
Tricky!’ every time you land an Uber trick. Maybe they should have also
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.