If you can stomach Snowboard Kids' syrupy exterior, you'll uncover a slick little racing game. It's almost like Mario Kart on snowboards, and it's a blast.
Players choose from a decent lineup of modes, snowboards, and tracks, then hit the slopes, grabbing one-shot weapons and power-ups to take down the competition. Half the fun comes from popping the guy next to you, but the racing side's pretty tight, too. The resulting combo's great fun, particularly in multiplayer matches.
However, Kids comes up a little short in terms of depth a week or so worth of fun is all you'll get out of this one and many gamers won't have enough patience to tolerate the stifling kiddie atmosphere. Renting's the wisest way to tolerate the stifling kiddie atmosphere. Renting's the wisest way to start shredding these slopes, but for the right crowd, Kids bags some serious air.
- Use the coin power-up as soon as you get it because it flattens everyone on the slope, giving you a great chance to improve your position.
- At the starting line, pound on Button A to jump ahead of the pack and start things out right.
- As soon as you see the exclamation mark indicating you're about to be hit, jump and weave around you can dodge the bullet most of the time.
- Save fan power-ups for easy, obstacle-free sections so you can maximize your speed boost
- In the Shot Game, rack up a high score by waiting till the last possible second to shoot the snowmen so you can be sure you hit them.
Like everything else in the game, the graphics scream "kiddie," exploding with wild colors and cartoony touches. Still, the respectable speed, innovative design of the tracks, and well-animated characters put on a slick show.
Kids handles smoothly, delivering realistic responses that feel as close to snowboarding as you can expect from a controller. No real problems here, but nothing earth-shattering, either.
The sounds do their duty, but could've done it much better. The irrepressible pop soundtrack will gradually make you ill, while the squeaky yelps, weapon noises, and other sound effects seem borrowed from Barney.
Obnoxiously kiddie at first, Snowboard Kids redeems itself with tautly paced racing and just the right touch of combat. Most gamers will be content with renting it, but if you loved Diddy Kong Racing, you'll find a lot to like here.
Download Snowboard Kids
Although this cutesy racer appears tailored to the kindergarten crowd (like half the other N64 games), Snowboard Kids actually packs plenty of depth and replay value. You get excellent control and six well-designed courses (as well as a hidden track). Yet it's the pay-as-you-play power-up system that makes this game such a standout. To collect the offensive and defensive power-ups that litter each course, you have to do more than just race over the top of them--you have to buy them (each costs 100 coins). And the best way to build up your bank account is by performing tricks, which are pulled off using the same intuitive system as Cool Boarders 2. Money raised in each race can be used to buy better snowboards. It's a cool concept that keeps you playing early courses and perfecting your tricks until you can buy the boards needed to win later races (which have you boarding on grass and sand). You also get three minigames--a downhill shooting spree, a trickintensive half-pipe and a Time Attack Mode--to help raise additional cash. A Training Mode and snowboard paint shop add extra polish to the game. But best of all is the Multiplayer Mode. Four-player racing is a blast, and since--like in Mario Kart 64--the best power-ups go to the player in last place, you can always be sure of a close race.
Snowboard Kids is a surprisingly fun snowboarding game that has a lot of appeal and immense replay ability. If you're looking for real fast downhill action, you're not gonna find it here. On the other hand, if you want a snowboarding game with great control, very nice course design, several very fun modes of play and great Mario Kart-esque gameplay, this is your game. Multiplayer is a lot of fun too, and the power-ups are very cool.
Besides the overly cute characters, SKisa joy to play. I haven't had this much fun since I played Mario Kart for the first time. In fact, Snowboard Kids has better graphics in most instances. I really enjoy the Multiplayer Mode (although it's kinda hard to see certain things), and the One-player Mode offers plenty of gameplay. For example, I love the way you can save up money to get yourself a better board-very cool.
This Mario-Kart-on-the-snowy-slopes sleeper hit has just about everything going for it: solid controls, great graphics and semradical action. This is more than just a Mario Kart wanna-be--a few new features make it stand out over its competition. Also, having to line up for the ski lift can make for interesting (and hilarious) situations in multiplayer games. SK needs more courses, but it's still a lot of fun, especially for four.
Surprisingly enjoyable cartoon-style snowboarding game, supporting four players with loads of special weapons.
Mario Kart on ice. Technically a little ragged but still enormously good fun - just take a look at the multiplayer mode.
Snowboarding suddenly seems to be the 'in' sport. The N64 alone has Snowspeeder 64 and Nintendo's own 1080° Snowboarding, as well as the plank-related bits of Nagano Winter Olympics, on the way, and after the Spice Girls and former sitcom actors displaying not so much as the tiniest hint of the comedic abilities that made them famous in the first place, putting some fatuously grinning gonk in expensive sunglasses and a puffy jacket into an advert is a sure way of shifting product.
However, the first N64 snowboarding game to hit the slopes is Snobow Kids, which real snowboarders will probably despise as it effectively takes the mickey out of their beloved sport. Well, good! Anything that puts the wind up a bunch of cheesily-grinning posers with bad hair and clothes so luminous it's a miracle they don't melt the very snow they worship has to be a good thing.
Rather than concentrating on the minutia of different 'powders' (that's snow to the rest of us), the best type of wax to use and the most effective way to show off your expensive watch as you tumble down a mountainside, Snobow Kids goes instead for a ludicrous arcade-style experience, which in addition to incorporating the kinds of jumps that would drive a real boarder's legs up through his ribcage on a genuine slope also throws in collectable weaponry with which to blast the other contestants. Money also has to be accumulated, but this is simply picked up along the way rather than being collected in the traditional manner of snowboarders, by working on market stalls or at insurance companies.
They Nose What's Good For 'Em
Although Snobow Kids is a Japanese game, the five central characters go against the traditional Japanese design philosophy for cartoon characters by having truly enormous noses. You've never seen noses like these. You could probably fit your entire head inside the nostrils of one of these kids, although considering the cold weather they favour you'd want to wash your hair afterwards.
Apart from the prominent probosces, the Kids are a pretty stereotyped bunch. The hedgehog-haired Slash (maybe he got his hair to stay in that rigid style by actually putting his head in someone else's nostril) is an all-rounder, pinko girly Nancy is manoeuvrable but not very fast, and obligatory round boy Tommy steers like a supertanker but doesn't half shift down the slopes because of the 6oo pounds of burgers with which he's been stuffing his fat face. Each boarder has their own special trick moves which can be carried out while they're in mid-air; get them right and bonus points are earned, but mess up and those noses will end up making like snowploughs.
There are six main courses, plus a selection of smaller stunt tracks and time trial routes, which are kept from being Just variations on 'a hill with snow on it' by having colourful, cartoony scenery and obstacles. One track, Grass Valley, doesn't even have any snow on it at all! The Dino Park track takes the racers through a theme park, complete with rollercoaster (there doesn't seem to be any way of getting onto the loop-the-loop, sadly) and giant teacup ride, while Night Highway takes place, shockingly, at night, with some very cool lighting effects and lurid neon sections.
The controls are simple enough; gravity takes care of your acceleration, though carefully timed jumping can get you off to a better start, so all you really have to worry about is steering your snowboard. Making tight turns slows you down, and if you overdo it it's actually possible to bring yourself to a complete stop, so getting used to the different characteristics of each boarder should be high on the agenda.
As well as the five big-nosed posers, your choice of board also makes a difference. There are three different planks to hurtle downhill upon, each being good in one area (speed, cornering or stunts). When combined with a boarder's abilities, it can really make a difference – put tubby Tommy Parsy on a board designed for speed at the expense of cornering, and he'll roar down the slopes like a boulder, assuming you can keep him from smacking face-first into any trees on the way!
The thing that sets Snobow Kids apart from any other winter sports game is its inclusion of power-ups. There are two sets to collect, red and blue, which once you've grabbed some money are picked up by just ploughing into the coloured posts littering the course. Some, like the speed-boosting propeller or invisibility, simply make your race easier, but most are actual weapons. You can trip, shove, freeze and blow up your opponents, or for real infuriation you can crush them with giant coins (buh?), turn them into snowmen so they can't steer or attach parachutes to their backs so they fly up into the air and take an ice age to waft back down again.
Of course, the other racers can use the same weapons on you, which often makes Snobow Kids a very frustrating game. It's almost impossible to avoid some of the weapons (the coins will always hit you, no matter what you do) and it takes much too long to recover. If you're hit when you're in the lead, you can almost guarantee that you'll be third or last by the time you get back on your feet. Get hit by the parachute if you're on the last lap, and you might as well restart the race! The computer-controlled racers always seem to concentrate their fire on you, as well. No fair!
Another annoyance is the ski-lift which waits at the bottom of each course - to complete a 'lap', you have to board it and be taken back to the top of the course. Since all the boarders usually arrive within a few seconds of each other, this becomes a mad crush with the contestants elbowing each other aside to get a seat. Brawls seem to be totally random, and it's all too common to reach the lift first only to have everyone else knock you to the ground and barge past (are they Germans?), meaning you end up ten seconds behind the leader once you've been ferried to the summit again.
The Piste's Getting Crowded
Strangely enough, none of these annoyances are nearly as bad when you play Snobow Kids against other humans. Up to four can play at once, the screen being quartered a la Goldeneye - everything is tiny in this mode, but the speed is kept surprisingly high. One niggle is that it's hard to spot coins and rocks - it would have been nice if they'd been made a bit more visible in four-player games.
Multi-player Snobow Kids is a lot of fun, much more than the normal game. The long recovery period from weapons fire isn't nearly as annoying when you inflict it on someone else, for a start! It actually managed to replace four-player Goldeneye in the offices for a while, no mean feat considering that the hardcore Bondophiles have been known to stay in playing it until the security guard chucks them out at 11pm. It's not a game I can see lasting forever, but any game that can usurp the mighty Goldeneye, even temporarily, must have something going for it!
Snobow Kids will be given a UK release in a few months, which should make the mysterious board customisation options, which I couldn't quite figure out, easier to use. Even in its Japanese version it's good fun, but it probably won't last all that long.
Coining It In
Collect the coins lying around the TRACK, OR EARN SOME BY PULLING TRICKS, AND YOU'LL BE ABLE TO GET INTO THE TRACK BONUS BOXES FOR SPECIAL ITEMS. THEY ARE DIVIDED INTO TWO TYPES, DISTINGUISHABLE BY THE COLOUR OF THE BOX.
- Parachute: a successfully aimed strike with this sends the unfortunate boarder straight up into the air, and then lets them float slowly to earth, often leaving them facing the wrong direction.
- Snowman: this weapon bounces down the track until it hits someone, and turns the player it strikes into a snowman, leaving them unable to turn or slow down until they crash or it wears off.
- Ice: this ice weapon turns opposing players into a block of solid ice, stopping them in their tracks until the ice shatters. They also become a temporary obstacle to any players behind them.
- Shove: the bomb is often as dangerous to the user as to other players. It explodes (well, duh!) But the explosion is a big danger to anyone nearby. Including the user if they fire when too close to the target.
- Propeller: the fan attaches itself to your bottom (ooer) and gives you a temporary speed boost, until either it runs out or you collide with something. Whichever happens first.
- Ghost: the ghost, when fired, automatically attaches itself to the lead player i4 - — and slows them down. It's possible to get hit with multiple ghosts, increasing the drag effect.
- Rock: no complications with this one. Drop it behind you, and anyone who hits n it falls over! It stays on the track until hit though, which means you could hit it yourself on the next lap.
- Coin: the coin is the best weapon - or the most annoying, depending whether you're on the receiving end of it. It drops coins on all the other players. Squashing them flat and stopping them dead
- Mouse: get this little chap, and you steal all the money currently held by your opponents. As well as giving you more cash, this can make your opponent crash into a bonus box.
- Invisibility: activating this makes your player disappear temporarily. And renders all weapons, incluoing the coins, ineffective. It wears off after a while, or when you crash.
We reviewed the Japanese âBØ version of this last issue, and before you can say,"Brrrr, isn't it cold for this time of year?" the PAL conversion is upon us!
If you read the import review, then you pretty much know what you're in for - the same game, just without the lountain of Japanese text. For those if you absent last month, or perhaps hose of you who aren't able to run software and so don't read the eviews because it only frustrates ou, Snowboard Kids is a nowboarding game (obviously) with he emphasis on fun rather than on iccurate simulation.
With that in mind, the characters are weird and the tracks are even weirder and extremely varied. So varied in fact, some of them aren't even on snow!
The characters in the game are all kids, and as mentioned in the introduction, all of them have huge noses. Apart from the really fat one that is - presumably because a fat kid with a big nose would look stupid, or something.
As well as the different players, you also have a choice of three basic boards, and can purchase newer, better boards which you can then customise in the paint shop.
Instead of simply racing normally down the tracks, there are various hazards to be negotiated, such as snowball-throwing snowmen and wooden bridges. Plus there's also the opportunity to collect items from boxes situated on each of the tracks and use these to hamper your opponents* progress or enhance your own.
Initially there are six tracks available for you to race on, and these can be raced in any order. Come first in all six, and you get a special pass which allows you to access a new, previously hidden track, which in turn, once completed... well, 1*11 let you work it out.
There are numerous one-player games in Snowboard Kids, covering categories such as time-trial, stunts and even target shooting. The best feature of this game though, absolutely has to be the four-player option. It's in this mode that all the ingame bonuses and weapons really get put to good use, as four people fight tooth and nail to be the first to cross that elusive finish line in one piece. It's difficult to say what makes some multiplayer racers good while others just dont seem to cut it, but this one is definitely one of the most enjoyable so far. As Andy mentioned last month, the import version of this game actually replaced Goldeneye for a while in the *something-to-do-in-the-office-at-lunchtime category, and it looks set to do so again!
Basically Snowboard Kids does for snowboarding what Mario Kart 64 did for... er, karting, turning it into an excellent multiplayer racer. If you want realism then look elsewhere, but if you want a crackingly good cartoonesque racing game then lie about your age and take to the slopes for the day with Snowboard Kids.
Having played the game in multi-player mode on several occasions, i found myslf getting quickly drawn into the sheer excitement of rushing down the slopes with only a piece of wood strapped to my cutesy yellow feet. Top snowboarding action, especially against other human opponents -except roy, that is!