Updated: Snowboard Hero Review

Fishlabs has released a major update for Snowboard Hero, the iPhone game that gives SSX a run for its money. The update adds two new high-level characters, two new high-level tracks, and in-app purchases. That last feature’s appearance is no coincidence.

To unlock the new characters, Monica and Kurt, and the new tracks, Death Ridge and Ice God Realm, you’re going to have to put a lot more time into Snowboard Hero. They’re each locked behind at least an hour of accumulating stars and credits, so it’s no wonder that Fishlabs now offers a convenient way to pay for immediate access.

For the Snowboard Hero equivalent of $2, you can unlock one new character, or one new track. You can also spend that much to unlock an Uberboard, which will max out your character’s stats. While the in-app purchases are a decent option, playing the game for that long can get a little dull, since all the tricks use the same controls and a lot of the missions can feel similar.

While we like that Snowboard Hero now has more to do on the later levels, a bit of attention to the first few levels would have been appreciated as well. And while we like the single-player campaign, we’re still waiting for the implementation of a multiplayer mode. Overall, Snowboard Hero is still a good buy, but the difficult-to-unlock bonuses in this update probably won’t be seen by many players.

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.

Gate-crasher.

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.

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