It seems that no good snowboarding games ever come out for handheld systems. In general, most snowboarding games come out okay no matter what system they are on. Handhelds seem to have always been neglected though when it came to snowboarding games. Fortunately, Electronic Arts is trying to rectify that situation. Recently, EA released SSX: Tricky for the GBA, taking a major plunge in supporting the cause on the GBA. The result…well…hum…
The gameplay in SSX: Tricky is pretty generic. As you start the game, you select one of two riders, and take that rider to the first course. If you successfully get through the first course, you unlock the next course. As you excel with your regular snowboarders, you can then unlock a different boarder with better statistics, meaning that you will probably be able to win more races.
But what would a game be with Tricky in the title if it didn’t heavily emphasize on tricks? Not a very good one, that’s for sure. There is a special ”show-off” mode in the game, in which you can perform tricks for medals and points. With more medals, more course are unlocked, and more snowboarders. Eventually, when you unlock everything, you get to say ”hey, I just wasted a lot of my time!” It isn’t necessarily wasted time…it’s just time that you could have spent playing a much better game. Granted, it’s the only snowboarding game out for GBA that I can think of, but it’s an attempt at greatness that utterly falls faster than a rookie will on a half-pipe.
Most of the courses are the same, you go downhill while avoiding obstacles. Occasionally you will come across a jump and try to get some “big air.” If you get a lot of air off the jump, you can probably perform a stunt, and if you can successfully land it, well then you get some boost. You can then use the boost to overtake your opponents, or to build up your speed for the next jump.
Unlike the console version of SSX: Tricky, there aren’t any short cuts or complex trick areas; no, this is good-old-fashion downhill snowboarding. The snowboarding itself isn’t very bad at all, it just grows insanely repetitive as you often times have to play the same course over and over again to unlock the next one, or to get all the trick points you can.
The trick controls are so appalling in SSX: Tricky that it deserves it’s own shrine. TRICK is in the title, yet somehow or another, trick controls weren’t emphasized when creating the game. So instead of being easy to control, instead they opted to use a bizarre button configuration to pull off tricks. When I first started playing, I was trying to figure out what buttons to push for the tricks so often that I didn’t land any of them. I suppose the GameBoy’s limited button setup probably doesn’t help, but it was irritating enough. Also, to go faster, you push up on the control pad. You push up to do a front flip. You hit a jump that you didn’t notice while pushing up, you fall on your face in the snow and get passed by the other riders. Not cool.
SSX is one hell of a game to look at and admire. Even if you don’t like the genre, you have to admit it’s damned impressive to see a near-PS1 quality 3D game on the Gameboy Advance. The course graphics are fairly repetitive though, but there is very little slowdown. However, a few problems do persist. As I played the game, I constantly noticed that the bottom right part of the screen was going white and losing image. This is not a snow effect I don’t think, but it persisted frequently. Also, when racing, riders in the lead seem to sink like a ship going in to the horizon, rather than staying up on the snow.
Music is one thing that I think the GBA should be able to do well, and with most titles it can. Hell, there’s an MP3 add-on for the system right now that works great, as I understand. The developers of SSX: Tricky decided that a hard, extreme soundtrack was the way to go with the game, and who can blame them? Well, they succeeded…in making it hard to listen to and extremely crappy. Seriously though, if you are going to listen to it, make sure no one else is around. That’s more suffering than any human being should have to deal with.
I can foresee someone whom was dropped as a child enjoying this title. At $19.99, it isn’t the worst title that you can pick up, however there are a lot of games that are much better for less, such as Turbo Turtle. If you really, really want a snowboarding game for the holiday, this is the title to pick up, as it is the only choice on the market right now. However, hold onto the receipt so that when you do inevitably return it, you can get a different, better game.