Preview Impressions: Shaun White Snowboading (Wii and 360)
Shaun White looked great onstage at Nintendo’s E3 press conference showing off his upcoming game for the Wii, but just because the red-headed pro snowboarder looked good on stage, doesn’t mean that the game was necessarily good. Fortunately for the gamers out there who love a good snowboarding game (and haven’t had a good one to play for quite some time now) there is a bit of hope in “Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip” for the Wii. I recently had a chance to spend a bit of time with my feet on the Wii version and my hands on the Xbox 360 version, and you might be surprised which one I actually preferred.
I was able to play two different modes of the Wii version of the game; once down the mountain in a timed race, and a couple trick-heavy trips through the half-pipe. All the runs were completed with my feet on the balance board controlling my speed, direction, and balance control. I also had the Wiimote in my hand to control grabs and a trick-triggered power boost.
Ubisoft Montreal is doing their best to make the Wii version more accessible for the whole family, and because of that making my way down the hill was easy, and intuitive - lean forward to go faster, and lean back to slow down. Pulling off tricks was just as easy with a simple shift of weight midair to either the front or the back to perform an assortment of moves, and if you wanted to hot dog it a little more, hold down the A and B buttons to throw in a little extra flare. Fortunately, the controls are a bit forgiving and natural feeling, which means that even on your first run down the mountain you won’t be crashing into the walls (too much).
While the balance board really helped complete the experience, if you weren’t one of the millions that rushed out to buy “Wii Fit,” don’t worry, you can still play “Road Ttrip” using just your Wii remote. The more economical way to play substitutes rotations of the controller for weight shifts on the board. When you break it down, it’s all really easy, which isn’t necessarily the same story for the Xbox 360 version.
Let me preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I have missed out on many, many years of Tony Hawk games because they had the exact opposite control scheme as SSX games. In other words, I’ve play A LOT of SSX in my day, and those controls are ingrained in my brain, and, as any gamer knows, swapping control schemes for similar games is usually very difficult. So, when I picked up the 360 controller to head down the slope things didn’t go so well, but that was not the fault of the game.
Comparatively, the Xbox 360 version’s graphics blew away the Wii, and it appeared that the feature set for the 360 was much more diverse. For example, the 360 version offered a huge, sandbox styled environment, impressive multiplayer integration, the ability to throw snowballs and body checks, and even a “death race” mode. The Wii version lacks all of these, and then some.
One of the other things that I had quite a bit of trouble getting over on the Xbox was the very simple idea of gravity. We live with it everyday, but, if you think about it, it isn’t something we always need to consider in games, especially ones that are centered around extreme sports. The next-gen versions of “Shaun White” were built using the “Assassins’ Creed” engine, and it vastly improves the physics of any snowboarding game that has been released in recent memory, which is great, but it was still difficult having to get past the idea that I wouldn’t be grabbing uber-air as I sailed off a jump.
It’s clear these two games were made for two very different audiences, but that doesn’t make either of them bad games by any means. In fact, they are both stacking up to be the best extreme sports game on their respective platforms, and it’ll be up to you to make the decision which is right for you, but either way, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have a good time.