Dashing through the snow.
If you squeezed all the melted snow from my pants the last time I attempted snowboarding, you could have opened a glacial water bottling company on a scale that could rival Evian. Yes, a 20,000-bottles-a-day manufacturing planet in my pants. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little. Some of that was pee.
[image1]But the point I am trying to make is that my butt got wet. Very wet, in a short amount of time. Not due to any fault of the pant maker, but because I can’t snowboard. I want to snowboard. It is so much cooler looking than
two stupid planks skiing. But try as I might, the only thing I can do really well on a snowboard is fall.
No, wait, I do have one trick: stopping an entire chairlift. So for the sake of all snow lovers everywhere, I have not been to the slopes in two or three seasons. I’ve had enough of performing my trick, getting up, getting on the lift, only to perform it again on dismount. It gets to be too much. I thought the world of the slopes was closed to me forever, until Shaun White Snowboarding Road Trip came along.
This game makes you feel good about yourself even if you can’t snowboard in real life. If you’ve got a Wii Balance Board and can lean, you can become a master of the craft. If you don’t have the board, but you have an agile wrist, no worries, bro. You too can shred with the best of them. In fact, I’ve played enough with both schemes to have been able to make an informed decision, but I still can’t decide which method of control I like better. That’s the mark of a great game – two separate forms of input, both working equally well.
The remote alone lets you pull off amazing tricks. The controls are very tight and defined, and carving is a joy. Tricks are pulled off usually with a flick of the remote and some combination of the A and B buttons. There are more than 20 tricks available, but there will likely be only a half dozen or so that you’re often use more than others.
[image2]Using the Wii Fit board with a remote feels very realistic, and after ten or twenty minutes, you start to feel it. Not only are you having fun, you are burning calories! The board even recalibrates for each new player. It calibrates for weight, balance and abilty, and the player can select the level of sensitivity. I use low sensitivity since I tend to swerve like a drunk man on a stormy ship, but someone a little more skilled might want to turn that sensitivity up to high.
Using the balls and heels of your feet on the board and the remote buttons in different combinations will yield tricks. At first, it’s a little like following one of those old Mambo dance footing charts, but you’ll get the hang of it. Something tells me that translating the diagrams to physical movements is good for some latent part of the brain that, if left unused, could cause late onset dementia or something. Like learning a new language or knitting, but more instantly gratifying.
The more progress is made, the more new places or goals will open up. Once you perfect your method on a given slope, you can go back and pick up crowns or garbage cans. Why garbage cans? I still haven’t figured that one out yet, but it is fun jumping up and trying to grab something.
[Update: It was previously reported that the player could not restart a course. However, it has been confirmed that the player can press the "2" button to do so. ~Ed.]
The multiplayer modes are well-executed. Up to four can play at a time and the controls are plentiful – one player can use the remote while the other uses the board/remote combination, everyone can use the remote, or everyone can share one remote. You can go co-op to try and rack up enough points for a medal. You can go head-to-head on a split-screen battle, and you can also do something they call hot seat mode, where one player follows the other, and you can see a ghosted-out version of the best player’s performance. It sounds a little strange, but don’t be surprised to find people get more competitive in this mode than in split screen.
[image3]The game has a pretty decent soundtrack, with current favorites like Kasabian’s Reason is Treason and tried-and-true standards like Wild Cherry’s Play that Funky Music. If you really hate a song you can skip to the next one.
All around, Shaun White Snowboarding – perhaps like dude it’s based on – is a really casual, fun game. Though the cartoony graphics and funny cut-scenes aren’t spectacular, they keep things from getting too heavy, and the stellar execution of everything from controls to modes of play make it a crowd pleaser. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl and this kind of thing could get messy and cold, but I don’t remember ever having had so much fun just by taking a Wii in the snow.