Just because it’s April doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to step into a snowboard and go hit the slopes. Snowboard Hero, the latest game from Galaxy on Fire developer Fishlabs, is a consistent, if slightly tame, take on the extreme sport. It’s also great for the off-season.
Like the console series SSX, Snowboard Hero has a wacky cast of boarders, ranging from an Aussie snow bunny to a generic cool guy named Dude. Dude is the only character unlocked at the start, and the rest are playable only after you receive enough stars in a series of events that combine speed and tricks.
The controls in Snowboard Hero are easily our favorite of any iPhone snowboarding game. You steer your way down the hill, pressing on the screen to charge up a jump, and using taps and swipes to perform tricks in the air. You can also hit rails automatically by catching them at the start, or by jumping directly onto them.
However, each character’s repertoire of tricks can be exhausted fairly quickly. Each character has four basic tricks– two grabs and two spins– and four special moves can be unlocked using in-game currency. Even though the animation for these moves is flashy, the control inputs are the same, so it can feel like you’re doing the same swipes and taps again and again.
Making a grab for it.
Also, the challenges (42 in all) can feel awfully similar. You either have to race down to the bottom of the hill quickly, score a lot of points by performing tricks, or do both at the same time. The two key variations are slalom runs, where you have to steer through narrow gates, and a one-on-one race against the computer. Unlike SSX, racing is not much of a focus at all in Snowboard Hero, and we would have enjoyed a bit more of SSX’s pulse-pounding shoving and jockeying for position.
Even if it’s a bit of a one-trick pony (that trick, of course, being a backflip off a cliff face), Snowboard Hero is still worth the price of a virtual lift ticket. The 42 challenges, while similar, will provide you with several hours of gameplay. Plus, the visuals are very impressive, and the game provides you with achievements and online leaderboards for each track for a bit of added fun. It’s not the ultimate snowboarding game for the iPhone, but the conditions feel right.