6.5 / 10 Banzai!s
The 1080 series from Nintendo and SSX by EA have long marked the best snowboarding games the market has to offer for console gaming. Ubisoft decided to throw their hat in the ring, find the biggest name they could in the Winter Olympic and Winter X Games gold medalist Shaun White, and released Shaun White Snowboarding in November 2008. But could the game live up to the hype? Let’s find out!
I made three attempts to play this game, the first being when I purchased it in 2010 after my first snowboarding trip. The learning curve proved too steep and I quickly became disinterested in the game. The second time was in 2013. I earned a few trophies, but again it was hard to keep momentum and I gave up. Finally, when Ubisoft announced that they were going to close the servers the second week of August 2014, I decided I would give it one more try to get as many online trophies as I could. Mission accomplished, and with an extra bonus month of server time, I was able to get all the online trophies.
Once you get past the learning curve, however, you can really have fun with the game.
It’s an open-world ride with plenty to do down four mountains: Park City, Europe, Japan and Alaska (five if you have the Target Edition, and six with the DLC for the British Columbia slopes.)
Shredders will know the events–Jibbing (riding on rails, pipes, anything that isn’t snow), Air Tricking (going off jumps, spinning, backflipping), Slopestyle (a combination of the two), Boardercross (a race now known in Olympic events as Snowboard Cross) and the most famous, the Halfpipe.
Players can compete in these to earn money and respect, but there are also collect missions and “Shaun’s Quest,” where you find 12 coins scattered three to a mountain. Bronze Euros, Yen, and Silver Dollars will earn you three super powers, enabling you to collect the Gold Crown coins to unlock the Triple Slam, a series of three events you must win to compete against Shaun himself.
The best part about the game is the controls. The overblown physics and button layout are excellently done, and you usually know if and why you crash. Quadruple backflips are possible, and I’ve even landed an 1800, which wouldn’t be humanly possible. So the game has a lot of fun moments in it.
Let’s start with the licensed music for the faults, since it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I liked the music, but not everybody will. There are also a limited number of songs, so they become repetitive. Quickly, I might add, as you grind your way to ten million respect points for the OMG! trophy. I wonder who chose the songs; if they were chosen by Shaun White himself then I would rate the music higher; if they were randomly chosen by Ubisoft, well…
Speaking of trophies, most of the skill based ones are related to obtaining a certain number of points during tricks. They are certainly doable, but again require inhuman numbers. Online actually works in your favor, as only eight races need to be done with other players; the rest can be done solo (as long as your session is online, and you reach the leaderboards.)
The graphics are not exactly what you would expect from a 7th generation game, but with PS2 and Wii versions I wouldn’t expect much upscaling for the PS3 or 360.
Also missing from the version I played is perhaps the most interesting feature–the Wii version allows you to use the Wii Fit board as a snowboard. I’m not sure how well that would work in terms of the tricks, but I’m tempted to find another copy of the game to find out. If and when I do, I will add to this review.
Finally, with the impending closure of the servers, any completionist or person who wants to play with their friends may not be out of luck. You won’t be able to go online, but there is a LAN option that would allow you to play against your friends, like an old-school game party.
Overall the game is good for what it is–an alternative to the other snowboarding games available, and backed by the biggest name in snowboarding. The controls are very good once you are past the learning curve. Unfortunately, all but the most hardcore of snowboarding fans, Shaun White fans, or Trophy Hunters will have the patience required to get to a high enough skill level to truly enjoy the game.
Fun: 7.5/10 (Once you know what you are doing)
Replay Value: 7/10
Trophy Difficulty: 8/10 (100% might be unobtainable after servers are closed)
written by Ben Adkins