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SSX On Tour (GameCube) artwork

SSX On Tour (GameCube) review


"This last last gen installment of EA’s popular snowboarding franchise, SSX, is without a doubt the least appreciated, and most underrated game in the series. It’s definitely not without its flaws, but it seems too choked out by its predecessors, and nobody seemed to pick up on its bold new style of snowboarding. "



This last last gen installment of EA’s popular snowboarding franchise, SSX, is without a doubt the least appreciated, and most underrated game in the series. It’s definitely not without its flaws, but it seems too choked out by its predecessors, and nobody seemed to pick up on its bold new style of snowboarding.

Graphics

Nothing has been toned down or sacrificed in this area. As time goes on the graphics of SSX have really improved, and SSX on Tour goes to show that. The graphic are even a step up from the superb SSX3, something many thought couldn’t be done. But it was. You’ll notice right away the hip new art style of the game. It’s got that new kind of fad style going, with the menus being drawn full of weird little pictures, like the ones appearing on skate sweatshirts these days. Once you break into the levels, you hit cool brisk mountain reality though. Each level is unique enough from the rest, and has it’s own style. Each of the thirteen levels on the mountain is bursting with minor details, and really helps you feel immersed, and not just some lone snowboarder/skiier. Everything usual looks good: snow, trees, rails etc. There are some breathtaking locales like “On the Rocks,” “Nintendo Village,” and “Hot Dam.” You’ll be blown away by each of those courses, and how they simulate natural environments with things you could only do on a video game. There are few graphics glitches though, and you’ll see yourself snowboard completely under the snow very often. The graphics are the highest point of this game.

Graphics Score (9/10)

Sound/Music

The sound effects in this game are well fitting and almost perfect. There aren’t many sounds, but the ones there are sound really good. Hitting rocks, and trees sounds very realistic. The sound of your board making turns and scraping the snow sounds just like when you’re doing the real thing. You can even hear the wind coming past your ears when you boost.

The music in this game is a large collection of licensed tracks from real bands. This game has one of the more impressive collections of music from the likes of “Goldfinger,” “Iron Maiden,” “Def Leapord,” “Ok Go,” “Pennywise,” and more. The music is all rock/punk rock/rap If you hate that music variety, listen to something else because you’ll hate every song.

Sound/Music Score (9/10)

Gameplay

There really isn’t a story in this game, and I think a story would hamper what gameplay there is. First off, you decide if you want to ski or board. They both handle slightly differently, so it’s not totally unrewarding to play two files for the different styles. Next, you create your character. It’s a pretty good creation system, and there are plenty of different hair/face/eye/body options to create a character of your image. It’s probably the best character creation you can find in a last gen game. Once that is all said and done, you can do the shred and medal events. When you load up the map, a number of challenges will appear for you to try and beat. There’s a pretty good variety of these, and some of them end up being quite fresh. There are regular races, and regular trick contests. There are modes where you have to tag other riders, or knock down other riders by ramming into them before the time runs out. A really fun, fresh new mode is where you have to board a certain distance while being timed. There’s a catch though; you have to do this without getting airtime. Sometimes you can only catch 30 seconds of air, sometimes less or more. There’s the same mode except opposite, where you need to get air, and cross a finish line. More challenges include trick deathmatches, lose your opponent by getting a certain distance ahead, handplanting a number of rails, doing monster tricks, and grinding enough rail distance. You’ll start off as a rookie, but as you beat challenges and events you gain hype points which rank you up to amateur, pro, etc. Doing this unlocks more difficult challenges. There is a multi-player mode too, where you can play with a friend on any of the challenges you previously did in 1-player. This is where having it on the gamecube is special; you get to play is Peach, Mario, and Luigi, along with any of the characters you race against in the game. Two characters are also unlocked with cheats.

Tricking is an important aspect of this game, and you’ll need to get good at it to advance. Some of the hardest challenges are the trick ones, and the A.I. is really good at showing you up. Tricking is all done through the L and R buttons for grabs, X for handplants, the C-stick for Monster Tricks, and the D-pad for spins and flips. It is a little odd to get used to, but once you do there’s no problem with it. As you get cash through beating events, you can buy Monster Tricks at the shop. Monster tricks are exaggerated awesome tricks that are worth major points. You’ll rely on them a lot. Tricking also fills up your boost meter. Better tricks = better boost, and you’ll want to do a lot of them so you can keep filling the ever depleting boost meter, and get ahead of your opponents. Also at the shop are a huge array of new clothes, haircuts, attributes, and boards. It’s a fun place to visit, and spend your hard earned cash on good upgrades and awesome styles. Beating some boarders in a challenge can result in shop unlockables too. Cash can also be found on every one of the 13 tracks on the mountain. There are 25 $500 cashes and 25 $2,000 cashes scattered about in each track. Finding cash is a fun reason to go through each level again, and often you’ll find when you collect cash, you also find alternative ways to board/ski each level.

One of the great things about this game is how each track on the mountain has so many things to do, and so many alternative paths to take. This adds a large amount of replay value to the game. You can go down the same track a large amount of times before it gets boring. There are so many rails, jumps, and cash to collect that it won’t get stale easily. Boasts are another thing to collect. Boasts are strategetically placed camera icons that you can try and jump into. These are usually found in hard to find or get to places, and getting them all is a real challenge.

Now after reading all that, you’ll almost assume this game is perfect, and should be immediately added to your collection. But it’s not perfect, and has quite a few problems that bog the game down. First off, your boost meter shouldn’t deplete, and waste your hard earned boost. Next, you’ll find that the game has a few frame rate problems, and occasional glitchiness. Glitches include game freezes, sliding under the snow, and falling off your board from a fake crash. But there are two even bigger problems. The A.I. in higher difficulties uses cheap tactics and often cheats. You can boost constantly and never crash, and often they’ll still be right on your ass. If they do in fact crash, they’ll often just teleport a few meters behind you to make up for their incompetence. That really makes me mad when games have to resort to tactics like that to beat you. And last, but not least, monotony eventually sets into this game. At first the challenges all seem new, and in endless variety, but that fades about 3/4 through the game. The game is long, and with 140+ challenges and collecting all boasts and cash, this game can last a good 30 hours or more! But you’ll find once you hit the pro difficulty that a good 60 of those challenges are just boring recycled versions of previous challenges. A race with the same person might take place in a different level, or just last slightly longer; sometimes you have to do trick practically the same trick events, but with slightly higher requirements too. I strongly feel that the developers could’ve just dropped a good 30 of the challenges to keep it from feeling too boring. A freeplay mode is eventually unlocked in the game, and it allows you to collect cash and boasts outside of challenges. This would be good, except for one flaw. Say you want to collect cash in the first course at the top of the mountain, and that’s it. Well, you can’t do that. If you want to collect cash in the first course on free play, you are forced to ride down the rest of the mountain until the end. That forces you to play through the rest of the tracks, and you end up wasting about 15 minutes going through courses you never wanted to go through.

SSX on Tour ends up being a good sounding and very good looking snowboarding/skiing game. The game is huge, and offers a good variety of tracks and replay value. This great experience is unforunately cut down by some sub-par challenges, glitches, and cheap A.I. tactics. It’s not enough to make you not want to play it, but these things definitely detract from the overall experience. If you want a long snowboarding game you’ll be playing for a good month, and can get past the shortcomings, this game is definintely for you.

Rating: 7/10

G_Dub's avatar
Community review by G_Dub (February 08, 2009)

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