Sunday 2 February 2020

1080° Snowboarding (N64 review)

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1998

1080° Snowboarding is a racing game that was re-released on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console in 2008.

In Match Race, there's six courses (spread across three difficulty modes) and the objective in each is to best your opponent to the finish line. The controls are difficult to get comfortable with and at times it's like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. Part of this is the sensitive steering, but mostly it's down to how ridiculously precise the level of your board needs to be when landing from a jump; it can be infuriating at first and I wish the developers gave newcomers a little more margin for error. What this results in is a complete avoidance of ramps, which are pointless anyway in this mode as they only serve to slow you down. When you do master the controls, the racing is furious with superb course design and branching paths for you to work out the fastest route. There's also a decent amount of scenic variety and despite the limited number of locations, the repeated courses across difficulty settings take place at different times of day and in varying conditions. I also like how the CPU isn't immune to crashing, but it's a shame you can't race against more than one opponent. Contest mode is a mixture of slalom challenges (against the clock) and big air ramps (perform tricks to earn points); this variety is a great idea and it's an intense mode that's perfect for honing your skills. Trick Attack tasks you with gaining the most points within a time limit; fans of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (2000, N64) may find some enjoyment here, as the controls work in a similar fashion (although some tricks are unnecessarily complex). It's mildly entertaining for a while, but the courses aren't really designed for big air.

1080° Snowboarding isn't as instantly accessible as many other Nintendo games on the N64 and its tough-to-master controls are likely to be a turn-off for some players. However, if you put in the time to learn its nuances you'll find an exhilarating racer with some excellent course design and plenty of fun shortcuts to find.

Random trivia: A sequel called 1080° Avalanche was released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2003.

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