It seems like it was just yesterday when I popped in the first snowboarding game I had ever played called Cool Boarders on the PlayStation. I had never played a game that was dedicated only to snowboarding. Even though I do not board, I do ski, so I know how fast and out of control things can get at times -- I knew that snowboarding and videogames would go great together. Here we are today and there have been a total of four Cool boarders games released, not to mention a number of others trying to get their share of the pie. But wait, this is not the PlayStation, but the Dreamcast and there are no snowboarding games crowding it all up. So what did Sega do? They enlisted the services of Uep, the development team behind the original Cool Boarders for the PlayStation and have set out to build their own snowboarding franchise on the Dreamcast.
Rippin' Riders has two modes of gameplay plus a multiplayer, head to head racing option. There are a ton of tricks if you are good enough to pull them off, seven boarders, secret tracks and multiple paths. All of this goes blazing by at 60 frames per second. While this may not be the deepest game out there, it sure is a lot of fun with a room full of people
There are really two modes of gameplay in this game, the first being the Free Ride. This has you racing down a course trying to accumulate trick points and make it to the finish line before the time expires. Now it would be easy enough to try racing to the finish line without pulling off any tricks and it would also be easy enough to spend a lot of time pulling off the killer tricks but the time will expire. What you will need to do is find a good balance of tricks and all out racing. Fortunately, if you pull off a cool trick, you are rewarded not only with points but precious ticks of the clock are added. I never made a single run where I felt I had an easy shot at finishing because the clock was always nipping at my heals.
The object of the free ride is not only to finish but also to accumulate points. How do you do this? Well, there are various trick points set across the slope. If you hit these trick points and pull off a killer move, the judges will award you points. When you get to the end of the run, your points are added up and compared with other riders' scores. If you finish in the top three, you will advance to the next course, eventually opening up new courses. This is the ultimate object and the new courses you will open are not easy at all.
Okay, this paragraph is dedicated to all of the boarders out there so if you don't speak the language, you may as well skip down to the next paragraph. So you want to know what tricks you can pull off, do you? You are not just satisfied with me simply saying that you can pull off cool tricks, are you? Okay, lets start off with the basics. There are six basic grab tricks that you can perform. You have the Indy, Mute, Tail grab, Method, Tweak and the Melancholy. Is that enough? How about rotation tricks? These don't have funky names but rest assured, you can get some spin action going while grabbing the major air. There are also combo tricks, inverted tricks and each character has specialty tricks. Still not enough? There is a whole combination of misty tricks you can pull off as well. So there you have it. Tons of tricks
This leads me to one of my complaints with the game. Maybe I just suck but the tricks were really tough for me to pull off. Sure, I could do the wimpy ones but the tricks that score the real points were damn near impossible. I would try and try but I just could never get the right. If I was able to get some good trick action going, I could never land without bailing. This was very frustrating to me and I think that it will frustrate a lot of you as well.
I mentioned that there were two main types of gameplay and the second type is the Super Pipe. This is actually pretty fun. It is a long half-pipe where you can practice pulling off the tricks. You can always get good air and it was easier for me to land the tricks. There are a few different pipes you will have access to but regardless, they all pretty much play the same. For those of you who like to jump in a go freestyle, this is the mode for you. I personally found it amusing for a while but it did not hold my attention for the long-term. Once the room filled up with people, however, this was one of the favorites to play because just about everyone can pull off some type of trick.
Aside from the tricks being difficult to pull off, I did have a couple of other issues with this game. First, one of my complaints with the original Cool Boarders was that if you hit a wall, you seemed to get knocked around like a pinball between objects. While handled better in this game, it still happens. I can't tell you how many times I was flying down a hill, only to bump into a fence and get thrown off a cliff on the other side of the trail. Very frustrating. Also, there were times after a crash when I would get placed facing the wrong direction and it would be difficult to get going in the correct direction again. With the clock being such a factor, this made it pretty difficult to recover from.
I know that it gets tiring hearing about how good Dreamcast games look but you are going to hear it again because this game looks great. You really get a great sensation of speed when you are flying through the sharp corners. The snow looks beautiful and they even did a wonderful job of differentiating between packed snow and powder. And then there are the waterfalls. Absolutely breathtaking. There are a couple of places where the game hits some slowdown but it is only minor and it looks so good that it is easy to overlook. I can confidently say that I have never seen the atmosphere and environment of snowboarding created with such detail on any system.
Great graphics, average gameplay, tough tricks. There you have it. That pretty much sums up this game. It is fun if you are hanging out with your buddies trying to pull off a better move than the guy next to you, but after that part is over and you wake up next to the game, you really don't have much to say to it. It was fun while it lasted but now it is morning. This is not a bad game but in the end, it will leave you wanting something more.
Download Rippin' Riders
Even while threatening to be just another me-too mediocrity. Rippin' Boarders redeems itself by excelling in graphics, audio and two-player options. Visually, Rippin' Riders is absolutely delectable; each of the downhill tracks is huge in size and stacked with architecture. You'll find yourself carving down white plume mountains, translucent ice caves, emerald forests, military bases...in fact, I had to wonder why they even bothered with snowboards when half the time we were grinding dirt and asphalt. Even in two-player split-screen, Rippin' Riders never stutters a frame--everything glides along at 60 fps. Despite the "extreme" monicker this game begs to be associated with, Rippin' Riders actually has a decent soundtrack that oscillates effortlessly between deep house and dub. So how's the game underneath all the packaging? Well, gameplay is a mixed bag. The controls are more responsive than previous Cool Boarder games, but pulling off tricks still feels unintuitive and clunky. However, some practice in the half-pipe should help you pin it down. Shawn "Urban Stylings" Smith and I especially enjoyed the two-player modes in Rippin' Riders. Our favorite was the Line Versus battle where pulling off successful tricks gave you a bigger split-screen than your opponent. Gather round all ye Gen-X'ers!
Rippin' Riders looks really sharp. It controls fairly well, too. But do we really need another snowboarding game with the same Gen-x characters and the same in-your-face announcer? Granted, this game is by the same team behind the original Cool Boarders on the PlayStation so it gets props for that. And it's the first snowboarding game on the Dreamcast. But overall, there just isn't enough to this game. Plus you can't turn off the annoying announcer
This one has the same problem as Suzuki Alstare. The characters don't blend with the environments very well. Vet, consider that relatively minor compared to the uninspired, ho-hum, seen-it-before gameplay. Snowboard games are so common now. it takes something truly innovative to get noticed. Aside from fluid speeds and decent graphics there isn't anything too noteworthy. At the very least DC owners can finally get a snowboarding fix
My favorite snowboarding title is still Steep Slope Sliders for the Saturn. Snowboarding games have reached a point where a few are really good, and there are a lot that are just average. Rippin' Riders is above average on visuals, but still very average as far as gameplay. Multiplayer is a lot of fun, but the one-player game (as most are) lacks much in the way of excitement or innovation. A mediocre first snowboarding entry on Dreamcast.