If you've been waiting for a truly awesome snowboarding game to come to your GBA then your wait is over. SSX Tricky is here and it does an excellent job of showing off what this system is capable of.
I can honestly say I don't normally like snowboarding games mainly because I'm horrible at them. Being that this version is for the GBA it will naturally be scaled down from the versions on the Xbox or Gamecube. This is to my advantage, though, since you don't have to be as precise and the controls aren't quite as complicated. Don't think this doesn't mean that the game isn't challenging though. There are still tons of tricks to pull off and learning how to do them is where your learning curve comes in. The tricks range from very easy to very difficult so virtually anyone should be able to pick up the game and have a good time with it not long after starting to play.
To get your bearings you may want to start by just running a normal race. No tricks are required (although they can always be pulled off). Just speed down the hill and try to beat the opponents. This is a good way to learn your tracks. You can also play show off mode and strut your stuff. Grind rails, get some massive air and rack up points for each successful stunt. You can earn medals in both modes that unlock more characters and tracks. SSX Tricky has some very nice features, such as the game will automatically save your unlocked characters and tracks as well as save your best times and scores. It also has a visual tutorial that shows you how to pull off each individual trick.
Now for the icing on this delicious cake - the graphics are incredible for a GBA game. Actually the graphics look very similar to a good PS1 game. There's even a pretty cool full motion video sequence when you turn on the game. While this might not sound special, wait until you realize this is happening in the palm of your hand. The animation and scaling are top notch and I think these are what make the game shine the most. The sound is also right up there. Sure there's the energetic music and sound effects you'd expect in a game like this but there's even a little speech and you just don't get much of that in GBA games these days.
To all snowboarding or extreme sports game lovers out there with a GBA: you need this game. This is about as good as it gets on a GBA and if you have even the slightest interest in a game of this type you need to check out SSX Tricky'the graphics and sound will blow you away.
Download SSX Tricky
I've often wondered at what point realism and outrageous gameplay blend to create a perfect union of form and function. Something that resembles the original well, yet has enough fast paced arcade style action to keep any kid with Attention Deficit Disorder happy. Fortunately, I've found such a game in SSX, however, this isn't the title that I'm reviewing. When it premiered on the PS2 at said console's launch, SSX was the first game I picked up, and it was well worth it for it's insane tracks and absurd tricks. My review is actually for SSX Tricky, and, after seeing the lows and highs of the original, EA has taken considerable time to update and improve this already amazing title.
For those unfamiliar with the SSX series, you're a snowboarder. Given the tricks you can perform, you're a pretty cool one to boot. Competing in a series of high-speed races and showoff competitions, you must prove your skills as a boarder, whether you're only here for a single race, or racing on the world circuit. I must confess, I believe that I've got a fondness for this style of sports title, so this may be a fairly biased review. However, since part of a good review is my opinion, I'll try not to disappoint.
I love games with extra material. __SSX_ Tricky_ gives you two options at the main menu. Start Game, or DVD Content. There's an entire section on the disc that isn't gameplay at all, rather it covers the various interviews, behind the scenes featurettes, and little informative clips that EA put on this disc. Taking true advantage of the DVD format, the DVD features give you plenty of extra info, including a part that showcases the many celebrity voices of the digital snowboarders.
To put it correctly, Snowboarding in __SSX_ Tricky_ involves one part snowboarding, one part wacked out tricks, and one part observation. This game requires a fine eye for detail, and the willingness to go off the track to find a quicker path to the objective. Given the next gen nature of the game, you'll find plenty of shortcuts, and if you know how to exploit them all, you'll have no trouble beating the other boarders at their game. __SSX_ Tricky_ has many improvements over the original title, with new riders, tracks, and tricks; but most of all, you'll find that the game itself is no longer as insanely difficult as the original. Some of the same difficulty is there, but with the advantage of Tricky mode, and Uber-tricks, the game has become a lot easier for someone who really knows what they're doing.
With extra characters, two new tracks in the form of Alaska and Garibaldi, and a massive redesign of every level in the game, SSX Tricky is simply amazing for its additional features. Not only does this version push the envelope of the bizarre tricking that you could pull off in the first game, but they give you enough DVD content to outdo many special edition DVD's with similar special features. Be sure to watch the behind the scenes material, as the creators are careful to comment on how they tried to push what they'd made before, getting a lot weirder with their material.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
You've got twelve different characters, six from the original SSX, six new. Each one has strengths and weaknesses, along with a series of clothing styles and different boards to choose from. You unlock new outfits by earning tricks in your trick book and additional boards by achieving new ranks in the World Circuit mode by beating tracks with either a Bronze, Silver, or Gold medal. There are a wide variety of styles represented here, normal and goofy stances, and depending on the racer, a different choice of boards. Some racers are more freestyle and prefer freestyle boards instead of the alpine boards, which focus purely on speed. My favorite boarder, Mac, has an excellent trick skill, and prefers freestyle boards so much that he's only got a single alpine board available on his advancement path.
A few different gameplay modes are available for your perusal, each of which you can try in either a single race, or on the World Circuit. The World Circuit is the mode I suggest relying on as it lets you pump up your characters with experience and unlock new features in the game. Race puts you in a race where only the top three competitors can advance. Showoff lets you race alone on a track but requires that you gain a certain amount of points (by performing tricks) before finishing in order to earn a medal.
Racing itself is easy to learn yet hard to master. Your analog sticks control your movement, and you can use the X button to crouch prior to a jump. Once in the air, you'll use the different buttons to control your choice of grabs, flips, or tweaks. While airborne, perform a grab, tweak it, and then push the grab further to score more points. You'll want to be mindful of the Black button, as you'll need to use it to perform a real flip. Otherwise, your boarder will just rotate slightly, as if they were preparing for a landing. Once you've gotten used to it, learn to trick often as it leads into the entirety of SSX's gameplay.
Each trick earns you points, which are necessary to score medals in the Showoff mode. Racing gives you medals for earning 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Along with points, tricks will start filling your adrenaline meter. The adrenaline meter is a reserve of boosting power that can temporarily increase your speed. If you manage to max it out, you enter Tricky mode, and can perform uber-tricks, as I've noted below. On top of that, there are only a couple other things to worry about, like knocking down other racers in your path. It's a quick way to lots of extra boost, as a knockdown fills up your adrenaline meter and puts you in Tricky mode and earns you the enmity of that racer. As you advance, you'll be able to see how you make enemies and allies of the other racers, depending on your actions in the course.
SSX Tricky lets you play head to head if you'd like, but I doubt that you'll want to let someone else hog your time on Tricky. You can play Race, Showoff, or Time Challenge mode with friends, so there's plenty of material to go wild with, especially since you can go head to head on any of the insane tracks.
SSX Tricky has amazing graphics, hands down. There aren't any weather effects in the game, but that'll hardly be noticed with the amazing level design and diverse textured backgrounds. Colors are crisp and vibrant, and the movement in each level is quick, yet slow enough to let you see the entirety of each level. In particular, I was impressed with the quality of the organic elements, like the trees and fallen debris, as they're much more complex than the original game. The characters are likewise more detailed, and you'll find that with each character and their specialty tricks, this version of SSX looks much more edgy than the first one.
You know, I never get tired of hearing, 'one trick winterstick'? while playing. The announcer in SSX Tricky is voiced by one Rahzel Brown. I'm not familiar with anything he may have done outside of Tricky, but his work in the game is a perfect counterbalance to the in-game music, performed by artists like Rasmus, Run DMC, and a couple for Rahzel himself, usually partnered with another artist. All of the audio in this game is well thought out and a treat for the ears, and as a slight oddity, they've also packed it full of celebrity voices. A host of characters are portrayed by celebrity voices from many different film and music backgrounds. Listen closely and you'll hear Billy Zane playing Brodi, Bif Naked as Zoe, and even David Arquette playing Eddie.
In addition to the original trick system, SSX Tricky adds a new feature called Tricky. When you've maxed out your boost meter, you enter Tricky mode. It'll last for a few seconds, in which time you can pull off an uber-trick. These tricks defy description, usually involving a move that literally defies the laws of physics. Mac, one of the younger riders, can kick his board like he's on a lake riding a log. Another rider, Psymon, can spin the board around his neck as if he were using a hula-hoop. As you can imagine, these tricks require you to get really, really big air, as they are by far the most difficult and time-consuming tricks you can perform. The pay off, however, is that you get lots of points for performing them, and if you perform six in one course, each one earns you a single letter that eventually spells out TRICKY. If you get all six, you enter permanent Tricky mode, with Max boost for the rest of the race.
The game rocks. Go buy it' now. If you're still waiting to get an Xbox, I've only got one thing to say, '?Halo.'? However, right after Halo, think about SSX Tricky, as this game is enjoyable no matter what your skill level is, although you may need to practice a bit to get the hang of it.
Snowboarding down a mountain at over 60 miles per hour, jumping off ramps that launch you 40 to 50 feet in the air, and a multitude of tricks and combinations are just some of what you have to look forward to in SSX Tricky. Trying to build on the fame created after SSX was released last year, EA Sports pulled off a trick of their own by following with a sequel that outperforms an already fantastic game. Loaded with bonuses and features to unlock, SSX Tricky is more of the same thing that attracted audiences with little or no interest in snowboarding the first time. What you'll find here is a game that has been redone, improving significantly over the previous title by creating new dimensions that will cause as much excitement as the original. SSX Tricky will outperform and outlast almost anything currently on the market; unless you have a fear of snow, this is one you'll want on your Christmas list.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
When playing SSX Tricky, you'll notice that it has a similar structure to the original. The world circuit, for instance, is set up with six other racers all fighting for the top three spots. Each snowboarder naturally has his or her own particular attributes but the game also shows how friendly or unfriendly each opponent is, so you'll know who to watch out for. Your enemies will take cheap shots, attempting to knock you down, and if you take them out they'll be less friendly to you in the next race.
Each circuit is comprised of three rounds that must be raced consecutively. Finishing in at least third place or better is required to enter the semi and final round. If you finish the final round with a position better than fourth place, you'll be able to unlock the next course. In addition, you'll also win a medal used for unlocking other features, and experience points that can be distributed across your snowboarder's different skills.
The courses themselves are greatly improved and it's almost impossible to recognize them from their previous forms. There are shortcuts galore along with interesting new designs that keep them more dynamic, allowing for different routes and jumping angles. Additionally, to further distinguish this game, two new courses called the Garibaldi and Alaska were added. These courses feature near-vertical sections and large drops, creating new terrain to traverse.
Helping to add extra color, the characters were all given celebrity voices and personalities. Eddie, for instance, was created using David Arquette's voice and persona while Elise uses Lucy Liu's. Other actors like Billy Zane and Oliver Platt were also used, adding overall personality to the entire game and creating more meaning behind each character.
In addition to the celebrity voices, one of the exciting new aspects of the game is the trick system. With this new revamped system, you'll be able to spin and flip to your heart's content. Advanced tricks like a fakie, where you land with your back foot forward, and late, where you hit one last trick before landing, are also achievable, giving more possibilities to the tricks that can be performed. When you catch big air, sometimes you'll find yourself creating all-new moves with various combinations of tricks, even riding a rail or two. The main thrill, however, is the addition of the Uber tricks. These tricks can be pulled off when the Uber disk is rotating; when it is, look out because these tricks will impress even the veteran snowboarder. Each snowboarder also has his or her own unique Uber trick, and all are worth seeing.
Even with all the trick possibilities, if they're too cumbersome to execute, the game can become frustrating and consequently short lived. SSX Tricky, however, sets up a control system that is surprisingly user-friendly, using almost every button and stick available. To start, the d-pad and left analog stick perform similar functions as left and right turns while on the ground, and cause rotation while in the air. Pushing forward on either will build speed and pulling back gives a speed check. To cause the rider to grab the board while in the air, any of the right or left buttons will perform a specific grab trick and combinations of them give more possibilities. Pressing the X button will cause the rider to crouch, then jump when the button is released, while the square button will give an adrenaline boost if available when on the ground and a tweak when in the air. If you start preparing for a jump and realize there isn't any way to land it, the L3 button can be used to release the rider from the crouching position; if you find yourself off course, the select button will set the rider back on the track.
After riding around for a while, you'll also notice that the interface does a great job of displaying an array of information without distracting or covering up the gameplay. The current place of your snowboarder is shown in the upper left corner, while the score is in the upper right corner. To keep from obstructing the race, points given for tricks and time differences between you and first place will flash in the upper middle of the screen. Any tricks you successfully pull off are also flashed at the bottom of the screen, giving a name to the more interesting tricks created along with the more conventional ones. Other things, such as the adrenaline meter and Uber disk, current speed, time and location of the other riders, are also shown to complete the interface. Most of the time, the interface is smooth enough that you'll hardly notice any difficulty in using any part of it.
As mentioned earlier, SSX Tricky also has extra features. Some of these features come in the manner of DVD-style extras. For instance, there are short movie clips of each celebrity as he or she gives voice recordings and personal thoughts about the project. David Arquette is particularly entertaining as he is shown giving a voice to Eddie.
Pulling off a successful split-screen multiplayer option is a daunting task and usually it ends up being difficult to see or hard to control. This, however, is one of the stronger points of SSX Tricky as two players can race each other without being hindered by sensitive controls or scaling of the screen that distorts, not allowing enough of the screen to play effectively.
Visually, the game is top notch. The courses are beautifully detailed and different from each other. You'll see things like snow spraying off the board when cutting and large amounts of detail in the riders and their environments. As with most EA Sports games, you can generally expect above average graphics and that's the case here.
In addition to the celebrity voices, various bands were used to record the music. Groups like Run DMC, Mixmaster Mike, and Rasmus all recorded various songs, with over fifteen groups participating. To keep the audio from becoming stale, each course has its own theme song and the sound effects are realistic, helping to immerse players in the game.
SSX Tricky is a game that won't spend much time on the shelf. It delivers solid gameplay that outperforms its predecessor in almost every aspect. With new and remade courses, the addition of celebrity voices and professional music groups, and gameplay that gives it a lifespan well beyond anything currently on the market, SSX Tricky will find few unsatisfied customers.