New Kids on the Slopes

The N64 was blessed with two snowboarding games that had no equal. Snowboard Kids 1 and 2 had players racing down giant mountains, hills, grassy plains, and even sandy deserts while chucking over the top items at each other. Snowboard Kids could easily be summed up as a Mario Kart on snowboards. Where as EA’s SSX is all about gaining huge air with unrealistic tricks, and Nintendo’s 1080 games give off a more realistic feel, Snowboard Kids almost stands right in between them as it is not as arcardy as SSX, but not nearly as pragmatic as 1080.

Thankfully, Atlus is bringing back the series on the Nintendo DS. While still in development, Atlus has promised some old and new Snowboard Kids gameplay elements. The playable demo at this year’s E3 displayed a wonderfully smooth 3D engine. Gravity and the speed of the hill will immediately be recognized upon first sight of the game in motion. Unlike the caricature-like, big nosed character models of the N64 games, SBK now displays a more mature theme with properly proportioned character models. Perhaps the kids have grown up.

Snowboard Kids features four racers competing to win a downhill race to the finish. The N64 versions had players cramming into a ski lift once the bottom was reached. However, only one player could enter at a time. This could often make or break the pole position in a race. This ski lift theme also seems to be making a return into this new DS version. On the way down, players have the opportunity to launch projectile weapons at opponents to hinder advancement. These power-ups have a wide range of abilities like freezing someone in place with an ice cube or blowing them ski high with a bomb. Hopefully the ricochet snowman bombs and the unavoidable pans will make a return.

The action will take place on the top screen while the bottom screen will display a map layout of the player’s positions. As of right now, the only touch screen function will be used when trying to get a boost off the starting line. It is undetermined what other functions, if any, the touch screen will utilize. There are still no plans to use the microphone or have online play, but this could change in the future.

Just like the other Snowboard Kids games, performing crazy tricks will be a necessity if there is any desire to come in first place. In the N64 games, tricks granted the player money, in which he or she could buy items on the track. The fancier the trick, the more money is received. It is still unknown if the trick function will feature the same money earning technique, but it will, however, increase the speed of your player momentarily.

Four-player wireless link mode has been announced, with single card link play in mind, but this function has yet to be finalized. Four-player multi-card is sure thing, but single card is still in the works. Returning, the game will feature old characters with a new look thanks to the updated more mature character models. New characters and all new environments have also been announced.

SBK: Snowboard Kids is shaping up to be a great DS game, even if it doesn’t use all the DS’s specific hardware functions like microphone support and advanced touch screen functionality. Snowboard Kids has always been about a fun, entertaining, arcadey snowboarding experience. Fans of the N64 game will surely drool in anticipation for its release later this year as this series has a strong cult following. Atlus has not yet given a release date, but stay will mygamer for more info.

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