"The Atari Jaguar has several racing games available: among them are Atari Karts, Power Drive Rally, Super Burnout, and of course the infamous Checkered Flag. But I would argue that the best racing game, and one of my favorite games for the Jaguar, is one that might surprise you: Val d'Isere Skiing and Snowboarding. "
The Atari Jaguar has several racing games available: among them are Atari Karts, Power Drive Rally, Super Burnout, and of course the infamous Checkered Flag. But I would argue that the best racing game, and one of my favorite games for the Jaguar, is one that might surprise you: Val d'Isere Skiing and Snowboarding.
Yes, it may be on a ski slope instead of a racetrack, but VSS is a racing game. The French developers, Virtual Studios, ported this game over from a Super Nintendo game called Tommy Moes: Winter Extreme. Although the games have a similar look and feel, the Jaguar version has some slight improvements in music, menus, and options.
You choose either a snowboard or a pair of skis to run down the slopes of the famous French ski resort Val d'Isere. You can practice, or race in both downhill speed and slalom. To make sure you stay on the track - I mean slope - the path is lined on both sides with obstacles such as snowplows, trees, and your fellow snow enthusiasts.
At a time when programmers were struggling to make flashy 3D polygon games work on the Jaguar, Virtual Studios wisely built a graphics engine that makes good use of large, colourful 2D sprites. Similarly to Super Burnout, the graphics are smooth and fast. VSS may not use 3D polygons, but it looks damn good for an early 90s game.
One of my favorite aspects of VSS is its "roller coaster" effect: the graphics engine plunges your viewpoint up and down over a rapidly undulating ski slope. The effect really looks great; you can almost feel yourself getting motion sick! The music in the game is both funky and catchy; unlike most games I'm happy to keep the background music on. And I found the controls to be tight and responsive.
But of course not everything is perfect. The sprites, while beautiful and well-made, are very repetitive. What, there are only two types of snow-covered pine tree on the entire mountain? And why do all the other skiers seem to have only about three different outfits?
One thing that really irks me about VSS is the repeated display of the Virtual Studios logo. It's shown before the start of every race or practice, before every menu, and after every race. Alright already - we learned who made the game the first time!
Overall, VSS is one of my favorites. It's a great game when you come home tired from work and just want to flop on the sofa and play something a little bit mindless and relaxing, rather than the high-strung energy of T2K or the tenseness of AvP. It's not in my top five Jaguar games, but I do believe it's somewhere in my personal top 10. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 5 being your average mediocre game, I give VSS a 7.5.
Community review by LS650 (May 24, 2007)
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