1080° Snowboarding

Regular readers will probably have realised that I don't have much time for snowboarders. This is probably down to my antipathy towards posers in general who spend a great deal of time, money and effort to show off about something that is essentially pointless. That and the fact that, no matter what designer label they might have on them, anoraks are for trainspotters. Any snowboarders out there will probably have it in for me now, but since the worst they can do is try to dazzle me with their luminous nylon trousers or blow marijuana smoke into my face I'm not desperately worried.

After saying that, it'll probably come as quite a surprise that I'm now vaguely considering a bit of a foreign trip to somewhere with mountains, snow and a place to hire silly woollen hats, though one junior accounts clerk from Telford trying to talk like a Californian surfer and I'll be on the first flight back. The reason for this slight softening of my attitudes? Nintendo's 1080° Snowboarding (that's pronounced ten-eighty, not one thousand and eighty), the latest game from the team that produced Wave Race and hopefully the Big N's return, to form after the disappointment of Yoshi's Story.

The Wave Race connection should give you an idea of what to expect. If you're hoping for dozens and dozens of different courses, then you're going to be sadly disappointed. 1080° Snowboarding's pistes number a mere six, with a couple of training and stunt courses thrown in as well. What it does offer is, like Wave Race, probably the most realistic simulation of the real sport you're likely to get without blowing a month's wages on a pair of uncomfortable sunglasses.

Passive Doping

Once again, Nintendo's decision to whack an analogue joystick on the N64's controller has proven to be the best idea in videogames since the invention of the fire button. Trying to reproduce the feeling of control you get in 1080° Snowboarding using a straightforward digital d-pad would have been all but impossible.

A great deal of time has been spent to give the boarders a realistic sense of balance. Turning your boarder isn't just a matter of pushing the stick left or right and watching them change direction. Instead, the analogue stick is used to alter their stance and centre of gravity, which gives you absolutely precise control. When you're hurtling down the slopes at anything up to 200kph, whatever that might be in real money (divide by eight, multiply by five, don't hit tree – doh!), this is exactly what you need. A slight lean forward or back is enough to keep you on the right track most of the time, but if something more radical is needed, the further you push the stick the more your boarder leans over. Push it right to the limit and your boarder will start 'edging' the board, which is nothing to do with lawns but instead runs the board on its side rather than its flat base. Very sharp turns are possible this way, at the cost of a lot of your hard-earned speed.

Holding the Z trigger makes your racer crouch down, increasing speed but making it harder to steer. Knowing when to go flat-out and when to rein it back a little in order to avoid doing a Sonny Bono is vital. You also need to learn how the different types of surface affect your board. Bottle ice obviously offers the least friction, but it also makes it very hard to steer. On the other hand, waist-deep drifts of powdery snow slow you down a lot, which at times can be useful if you need to cut your speed in a hurry without making any risky manoeuvres.

This variation in the surfaces of the courses provides scope for something previously thought impossible - making the Rumble Pak an aid to gameplay instead of an annoying gimmick. You can play io8o° Snowboarding perfectly well without it, but when it's plugged in it provides an extra bit of feedback about the snow beneath your board. Since one patch of snow looks pretty much like another, this can be a great help in finding the fastest route down the course until you get familiar with it.

Man, I Am Sooo Baked

If straightforward racing isn't your thing, but instead you prefer to show off to everyone just how cool you are, there is also the option to perform tricks. The more impressive your midair stunts, the more points you score. The Trick Attack game can be played on the normal courses, making use of those halfpipes and ramps that only seemed to be there for decoration, but there are also two courses specially designed for showing off.

Most of the tricks, such as the depressing 'melancholy' and the dodgy-sounding 'stiffy', are performed by simply hitting В and a direction while you're in the air, but the impressive spins from which the game takes its name require some stick gymnastics. A simple i8o° spin only needs to you hold R and push the stick to the left, but to get the full 1o8o°… well, here goes. R and an anticlockwise spin on the stick, followed by the same plus B, then again with Z as well. That's three complete circles and three button pushes in the correct order, and after all that you've still got to make a perfect landing as well or you don't score any points!

Personally, I didn't find this aspect of the game all that gripping, but then I wasn't a big fan of all the stuntery in Wave Race either. If trying to accomplish the almost impossible is what turns you on, then you should find the stunt games in 1080° Snowboarding a real challenge.

As well as the Trick Attack games, other options on offer include the Contest game, which turns the tracks into slalom courses where you have to wend your way between flags (missing a flag costs you valuable seconds), a training track where you can practice jumps or the halfpipe, and of course the two-player game.

This manages to be almost as fast as the one-player game, although the amount of detail suffers. Trees are felled, some of the trackside fripperies like spectators do a runner and the fog has wafted in from Mount Turok. Despite this, the head-to-head game still keeps the superb control over the boarders that makes the one-player game so much fun. It's a pity there isn't a four-player game - Snowboard Kids managed it - but having to work out the physics of four people moving around at once would probably have been a tall order even for the N64.

Board Stupid

If 1080° Snowboarding sounds good so far, that's because it is. It's not perfect, unfortunately. For a start, the snowboarders are idiots. Well, I didn't want to say it, but... just kidding. What I mean is that the computer-controlled players, while perfectly capable of making their way from the top to the bottom of the course and giving you a good run for your money as they go, have absolutely zero common sense. It's as if they don't even realise that there's somebody racing them. If you're running neck and neck, there's a very good chance that they'll plough into you and knock you down - not out of malice (although the addition of a 'brutal elbow to the windpipe' button would have been highly amusing), but simply because you're on the path they've decided to take. Worse still, once they've knocked you down, usually going over themselves, they're still intent on following the same line, so as soon as you're back on your feet they ram you again. All the time this is happening, your damage meter is rising!

I also suspect that there's more than a little Mario Kart-style cheating going on in 1080° Snowboarding as well. You can get off to a great start, power down the slope without a hitch while hearing your computer-controlled opponent slam repeatedly into trees, rocks and buildings, glance at the course map about three-quarters of the way down to see a gap wide enough to fit a couple of glaciers between your and your adversary... then miraculously, as you enter the final stretch, a little bobble hat will pop into view at the bottom of the screen, followed a moment later by its owner blasting past you. Son of a...

This happened often enough, on different tracks, to make me realise that it's quite deliberate and not just my boarder taking a bad line. Frankly, it pissed me off. Even though it seemed to happen in reverse as well, with the N64's boarder all but stopping and waiting for me to catch up if I was doing particularly badly, I'd rather the game played things completely straight instead of messing around just to keep the two racers within sight of each other. If I'm losing badly, let me lose - I'll learn from it and do better next time. If I'm winning by a mile, don't magically strap a Sidewinder missile onto my rival's board to keep up the challenge in the final stages. This kind of crap completely ruined Mario Kart 64 for me, and though it's nowhere near as blatant in 1080° Snowboarding, the fact that it becomes more and more obvious in the harder stages really takes the fun out of the game. What's the point of struggling to beat the computer if it's just going to cheat to keep up?

1080° Snowboarding is certain to be the best of the N64s snowboarding games. However, it does have the faults mentioned above, and I'm also dubious about its longevity. All but one track was opened up within a few hours of play, and it was only sheer frustration with the computer-controlled boarders' dodgy tactics that kept me from keeping on trying to reach the final course.

That aside, if you want a Nintendo game that takes itself totally seriously for a change, and also gives you probably the most perfect control method yet seen in a simulation, then 1080° Snowboarding is definitely worth buying. Catch some air, duuuuude!

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1080° Snowboarding Downloads

Nintendo 64 1080° Snowboarding download

You won't get board with this!

The better part of a year after it was released in Japan, 1080° Snowboarding is now finally available in Britain. That's assuming you didn't buy the Australian version three months ago, of course.

For the uninformed, 1080° Snowboarding is - shock! - a snowboarding sim, where with the help of a well-waxed plank and Earth's gravity you race from the top of a snowy mountain to the bottom as fast as possible. Thanks to the Nintendo controller, io8ovs Japanese incarnation was the best videogame simulation of snowboarding ever, and the UK version is just as good. The feeling of control over your boarder has yet to be bettered by any other game. It's possible to tell just by looking at your boarder's stance if they're balanced for optimum speed, and for once the Rumble Pak isn't just a gimmick - plug one in for 1080° and you can actually feel the condition of the snow as you slide over it!

There isn't a four-player game, but even as a two-player battle, 1080° still delivers. A few of the trackside details disappear to help keep the speed up, but it's a sacrifice worth making, as the multiplayer game is just as fast as the regular one. Since each course has a fairly chunky selection of alternate routes to the finish, there are plenty of opportunities to pull a fast one and leave your challenger eating yellow snow.

1080° Snowboarding's only real problem is the small number of courses -there are only six in all, plus a couple of small stunt tracks, and it should only take a couple of days to see the lot. The computer-controlled boarders are also as thick as posts, and keep banging into you and damaging your board without suffering so much as a scratched Oakley themselves. Quibbles aside, 1080° Snowboarding is one of the best sports sims around. Extreeeeeeme videogaming!

reggie posted a review

Again, Nintendo outslides all of the World's snowboarding games.

reggie posted a review

For me, playing sports games usually ranks up right up there with Saturday evening TV in the brain-numbing tedium department but I'll make an exception lor 1080°. Adding those secret Nintendo gameplay touches makes all the difference and it's a real test of your analogue stick skills.

Because Golden Forest is one of the loveliest computer-generated sights I've ever seen. And it's by far the best snowboarding game ever. Cool Boarders? Schmool Scmoarders.

reggie posted a review

To get all the tricks, enter Training mode and choose a simple trick. Perform the easy trick off a ramp. In mid-air press Right-C (to re-enter the trick list) and choose another tnck (one that you can't do normally). Press A to reenter the game and land on the snow. The CPU will think you have performed the more difficult trick This little quirk can be used to acquire all the tncks and unlock the secret characters.

reggie posted a review

Playable and polished snowboarding game from the Wave Race team which looks great and plays extremely well. Try a little powder!

reggie posted a review

Question: How do I perform the hidden tricks in 1080° Snowboarding?

Answer: To do those tricks, you must be playing as the Panda character. To access this secret character, you must first get a high score on all the courses (including the trick courses), in all three places. Then, go back to the character select screen, highlight Rob Haywood, press the A button once to bring up his stats, and then press Right-C and then A again to select him. Choose your board as normal, and once you start the course, you'll be playing as the Panda.

reggie posted a review

Stomach-whirlingly good, but it takes a while to get into. Still, stick with it and that familiar Nintendo magic shines through. Great.

Crystal 'boarder: win race mode under the expert difficulty level and finish better than all the CAD scores. Now select Akari Hayami. hold Left-C and press A.

reggie posted a review
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