The one thing that has been lacking on the iPhone is a gnarly snowboarding game. Sure, games such as Crazy Snowboard and Shaun White Snowboarding: Origins have tried to capture the essence of carving your way down the mountain, but none has been able to quite grasp the spirit of snow shredding. That is, until X2 Snowboarding strapped into the App Store.
Tackling the controls for sick-nasty tricks is a tough undertaking for developers, but those behind X2 Snowboarding excelled here. Once airborne or on a rail, a snowboard controller shows up on the right side of the screen. Holding certain points on it and shifting your finger around allows you to pull off those crazy tricks that make the genre such as thrill ride. By leaving the accelerometer to movement and balancing, there is no overlap in controls. Now you can bust out that switch nose press and stalefish with absolute ease.
Six mountains and boarders are included in the game, each hailing from a different country. Each country’s mountain has its own twist. For example, Yama No Tatsujin in Japan is full of torii and Japanese maple trees, while Good Night Out in Canada ends with a stop at the mountainside bar. Sounds like a good time, eh? Our favorite course is Back Country in Chile, which starts off with a major jump off an icy cliff, goes through a long frozen tunnel, and spits you out rushing through a town.
This would be a good one to land safely.
The boarders all have their own style and voiceovers, but their appeal is hindered due to heavy balancing issues. While one character may have low stats, another has everything virtually maxed out. This limits your choices, as choosing a less powerful character will often end up leaving you in the kicked-up flurries behind your competition.
Three types of events are available for each mountain. Freestyle and Race events have you trying to gain the most points or be the first to cross the finish line. Trick-race events are the most challenging of the bunch. Here your score starts at 100 and drops gradually, so you must continually land tricks to keep it high while reaching the bottom as fast as possible. Due to three well-balanced difficulty levels, players of all skill levels can enjoy X2 Snowboarding, making it very accessible.
A big issue that hurts the game’s flow is how easy it is to go out of bounds. When this happens, the screen flashes white and sets you back some yards, as opposed to allowing you to ride right back into the trail like one would do in non-virtual reality. On a few courses there are areas that look to be extensions of the trail but end up being out of bounds, which is deceiving.
Hitting the slopes.
Otherwise, the presentation’s great. The cel-shaded graphics are teeming with color and personality, comparable to Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. You can ride to your own iTunes music or the included soundtrack, featuring a remix from Mr. Scruff of Rolando fame.
The bonus features included in X2 Snowboarding add some nice touches. Unlockable boards provide some visual customization, replays of your best runs can be saved, and pictures of landed tricks can be viewed in the scrapbook. Cheats are included, but special combinations are needed to unlock them.
The biggest disappointment with X2 Snowboarding that ultimately keeps it from achieving our highest score is the lack of online multiplayer. You can face off with friends over local Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but the chance of people sitting down to play on iPhones as opposed to a console boarding game on a bigger screen is unlikely. Online multiplayer is promised for the next update, and we will revisit this review if that comes through.
Fans of the snowboarding genre should pull that rad 360 and land in the App Store for this title. The conditions have never been so great on such a small screen before.