When it comes to typical console sports games I usually tend to stick to what I know and love; football and motor racing. Sure I’ve played plenty of others, everything from Jet Skiing to Table Tennis in fact but when it comes down to my own personal relaxation nothing beats a few matches of Fifa or several races in Live For Speed. So when Snowboard Riot, a 1000 point downloadable game for WiiWare came along I thought I would give it a try. I guess I should admit now that I’ve not played a Snowboarding game since the Nintendo 64 era but maybe that’s a good thing because I’m coming back to the genre with a fresh perspective, not tainted by recent releases. Let’s see if Hudson can undercut the big guys like SSX and Shaun White in my review of Snowboard Riot for Wii. So as briefly mentioned just now my experience of Snowboarding games is a little dated, the last games in the genre I played were 1080 and Snowboard Kids on the N64.
Whilst I enjoyed them both I wouldn’t be in a rush to load them up today when I have a stack of other games to play. Snowboard Riot isn’t a full on Snowboarding simulator (although it does feature support for the Balance Board) instead just like Snowboard kids from 1998 it adds the fun of shooting Mario Kart style weapons to the traditional flow of riding down a snow covered mountain on a board. Now just like their previous title; Onslaught, Hudson have created a stripped down game for a low price which aims to fulfil you need for a core game on Wii without spending too much money. Snowboard Riot continues this trend with its lower grade visuals and limited scope but still packs in both Single and split screen Multiplayer, Online Wi-Fi play, Time trials and even support for your WiiFit board into a relatively small download file. Slurpy cool.
Because Snowboard Riot is so simple it’s very quick to jump into the game, by default you’ll probably head into the main stand alone game with weapons (battle mode) and all you have to do is pick one of 4 characters (who have varying Snowboard skills and weaknesses) and maybe change their jacket colour, cap and goggles. Then choose one of 4 courses with varying difficulty (or 5 if you include Random as a course) and just get snowboarding. You start off standing on a ramp with your three opponents and when the counter says go you press down on the DPad to launch and well…GO! Now it’s a free for all race down the same slope there times where you need to board down as skilfully as possible to the bottom before you’re warped to the top again; now of course you need to be thinking about getting your line right, avoiding obstacles and jumping over ramps but what happens when you’re playing someone too skilful or you just happened to have messed up your start and fallen behind? Well luckily you can collect offensive weapons like homing rockets to knock someone down, ice shots to freeze them to help you get back in front as well as defensive items such as a bomb to drop behind your or a turbo boost to keep you out of in front – simply board over a red for an offensive pickup or blue for defensive, the choice is yours. Now if you were to choose the STOIC mode instead all those flashy Nintendo-esque weapons will be gone, instead you’ll have a trickier time as the course itself will fill up with extra boulders and obstacles as well as speed boots to board though, this is where you’ll need proper skill to win races (or luck I suppose). This is all quite fun good but sadly after a couple of goes on each slope I soon was too good for the AI opponents (on easy mode I should add) unless they happened to hit me with a missile on the final straight (blue shell anyone?) so this is where the 4 player online Wi-Fi connection mode comes in very handy. Being able to play your friends or random people from all over the world is always fun and is very simple here, just choose your match type and character and get boarding. Another thing to mention is that you can view online leader boards if you’re feeling completive and want to become the best Snowboard Riot player there is.
Of course all this talk of multiplayer and weapons may be putting you off, if you just fancy some solo time trialling to see how quick you can go then by all means the option is there for you. The default Wii Remote and Nunchuck controls work very well as expected, use your Nunchuck stick to steer and A and C buttons to use items – very simple, no tacked on motion waggle here folks. So what about the balance board support? Fed up with WiiFit telling you you’re fat and a waste of space? Well why not hit the virtual slopes and see what you can do about it? You’ll still need to hold a Wii Remote and Nunchuck to pull off the rest of the moves but you can indeed pretend you are on your own snowboard and lean around to move. To be honest my lumbering frame and lack of sleekness meant I wasn’t very good at the basic Skiing games included in WiiFit so it was no surprise to see that I was totally rubbish with the board here on Snowboard Riot. Now I don’t know if I should be blaming me or the hardware, it seemed to respond to my leaning well enough but I just couldn’t really get the hang of it. I perhaps think if I had some real boarding experience (or even being able to roller-skate) that I would do better, fact is I only managed to start riding a bike properly when I was about 9 or 10 years old which I must add is a complete symptom of not having any friends and not being allowed to play outside when I was a kid, instead I was locked away (not literally) with my toys and video games and so I failed to learn the joys of childhood until it was too late. Anyway enough about me! I wouldn’t recommend buying Snowboard Riot solely for its balance board support but it is indeed a nice feature to have when many games still don’t do anything with it at all (shame on you other games). The four tracks are fairly basic with the odd cave section or rope bridge to spice things up and only the last two are of any challenge but they’re all fun enough. Looks and Sound wise Snowboard Riot is what I expected of a WiiWare game, low res textures, low poly count models and generally plain surroundings – however the game still looks very pretty with its sunny stuff and snow and everything. There’s more than enough rock to listen to, nothing memorable but it fits the game – I wouldn’t bother searching the net for the soundtrack put it that way. If you’re a keen fashion guru you may be pleased to hear that the game uses fully licensed Oakley outfits so there’s no worry you’re in game character will look uncool.
Overall Snowboard Riot is fun and plays well, the lack of characters and slopes is a bit of a niggle but then you can have infinite fun online with others (well in theory) and for just 1000 Nintendo Points it’s a third of the price of Shaun White Snowboarding for Wii with probably half the content. It’s quite pleasing to see Hudson support WiiWare with some original core games that might not have the gloss or scope of disc based games but try to give you a good solid game play experience for a low price point. These games are basic but offer a decent bang for your buck. Snowboard Riot for WiiWare score 6 out of 10.
Related: Shaun White Snowboarding review