Background information: I love snowboarding. I spent a season in the Canadian Rockies snowboarding. Snowboarding is my second favourite thing. My brother is currently living in Calgary, an hour and a half from where I used to live, where the ski season started a week and a half ago – this gives me a feeling that is something like physical sickness. I'm not saying I'm any good at snowboarding, but when I think about it I miss it as I can only imagine I would a lung. The upshot of all this is that I wanted to like Shaun White Snowboarding
– it seems only fair to tell you this.
So, it is that I've spent the last few days hopping between the Wii and 360 versions of the game, trying to satisfy my longing for the mountains. Thanks to the Wii version, Road Trip
, I've met with some success.
The basic thrust of SWS
needs little explanation. You get on a virtual board, you ride. You get five areas to take a pop at, completing various tasks involving tricks, speed and grabbing stuff in order to unlock them.
I must confess, the first time I saw Shaun White Snowboarding
at Ubidays, it was the open-world sprawl of the next-gen version of the game that caught my eye, with the Wii version merely getting a sideways glance of feigned interest. Looking back, I think that's because Ubisoft didn't trust me enough to get on the Balance Board, the controller of choice for the Wii version. I've spent some time perched on that faintly clinical piece of plastic in front of SWS
now and, lo and behold – good fun!
I certainly had my doubts about whether using the Balance Board as a faux snowboard would work, and the tutorial didn't, it must be said, help very much. The tutorial, unshockingly, is your way into the game. After a spot of calibration and a faintly insulting (for snowboarders) cutscene you're on the slopes and good to go.
Steering, your bread and butter, is on the first go, a little tricky. I'm six feet and two inches tall with size 12 feet (not to mention used to the plank attached to my feet being 1.62m long) - none of that helped.
Steering also feels a little overly-sensitive at times on the default setting. Fortunately, you can select different levels of sensitivity for the board. Un
fortunately, 'low' sensitivity felt a little unresponsive when I changed it. But then I went back to the game after a trip to the kitchen and suddenly... it felt fine.
The strange thing about SWS
is that sometimes the control scheme feels great, but occasionally you feel like you've been riding with your bindings undone and a bad case of corns. Still, that's your fault. Move about on the board a bit, get in The Zone. You will sort it out, because once you get used to steering with the Balance Board, it feels great.