Currently Playing: SSX Blur (Wii)

It has been hard to play a game that I wasn’t familiar with, I have played SSX before on the Xbox, but I had trouble using the controls. It never felt user friendly to me, actually games like Tony Hawk and SSX never really caught up to me. But the Wii version intrigued me because I wanted to know how the game controls, now what do I think of this snow boarding game? If it came out on the Wii first, maybe I’ve been a fan a long time ago.

SSX stands for Snowboard Supercross, it’s like the snow version of Motocross or Tony Hawk series. SSX Blur is not the first, but actually the fifth game in the series. Basically you go down tricked out mountain and perform events and do stunts, and you are rewarded with more events and you can enhance your character along the way. EA has been doing good with sports, and EA Canada has done NBA Street series, Need for Speed series and more. They have a good reputation in developing sports related games and it still shows here.

I haven’t been a sports fanatic in video games because of it felt like I’m button smashing most of the time just to get some moves. I was having a hard time remembering all the controls you have to memorize just to make certain moves. Although one thing I really liked about this game is the controls, it feels more natural. Moving around the game will be easy and you really don’t need to memorize complicated button combinations anymore. Your nunchuck is used to move around and you don’t even need to press anything except the forward analog to accelerate. You can brake by tilting back the nunchuck and you can move left and right by tiling it too. The purpose of the Wiimote is to control your character’s spins, but you need to press A at the right moment or it won’t work properly. You also can press Z to do a grab trick on your board while you’re in the air. You will need to combine moving your nunchuck, the grab and spins to make various moves.

I was surprised how easy the controls seem to be. It did take me a while to get used to playing a game that relies on a lot of hand movements but it did feel very natural than button mashing all the time. It will take practice because of the timing and if you point the Wiimote where the sensor can’t see the pointer, it won’t be able to perform the move that you want. Even though I think the controls are easy, the game is still not, the challenges are good and it feels balanced enough that practice does make perfect.

There is a certain thing that takes a bit harder to do, it’s the Ubertricks. These moves can only be done on certain conditions and it will show up on the screen when it can. The ubertrick that shows up is actually a suggestion, not a requirement. You can do other ubertricks that you have discovered and there are tons of stunts in the game. Although I like the idea of these stunts, the controls are a bit hard to do. It will require you to make a certain hand gesture with both the nunchuck and Wiimote. The basic ones are easy enough but it still takes practice to execute them, my problem is when the required gestures get a bit complicated. It gets a bit too hard to actually accomplish the gesture.

The game does remind me of Need for Speed, since you navigate to certain events by using your snowboard or skis, to travel around there or practice movements while you are at it. Since you are on top of a mountain the only way to go is down, the terrain splits up to different sections so you have to be familiar with the mountain if you want to travel to an event. But when you reach the bottom you will be brought by a helicopter to the top of the mountain. What I like about this is that you don’t need to travel like that if you don’t want to, you can access a mini-map and go straight to an event. I like having that option; it makes things a lot faster than having to go to an event which may take time.

The events are listed as Slalom, Half-Pipe, SlopeStyle, Race, and Big Air. Most events will require you to make stunts as much as you can, but Slalom and Race are basically simple by it’s name alone. Race is a good start for any gamer since it’s pretty easy to get into, making stunts while racing is just for show. Slalom is ridiculously hard for some reason, which I think they do need to improve if they are going to make a new SSX game. The bad thing about this is that you need to get used to playing Slalom because you won’t get far if you don’t.

Tournaments are accessed as long as you do a lot of good scores on the leaderboard. These tournaments are a combination of 2 or more events which needs qualification before you start an event. These are great but it will take time to get thru one and you can’t save midway. You have to practice a lot and if you repeat an event, it repeats the entire tournament.
The soundtrack is quite good and reacts to your movement. The music is energetic while you slide down the course but it will stop when you do. The music fits the game and I do wish I had an option to listen to the music on its own. Hmm, is EA offering SSX Blur soundtrack already? The sound effects are done quite well, which I really expected from EA. You can really feel that you are on the snow and that itself is impressive.

The graphics are done well, and it shows that this is one of the best for the Wii. Character animations have small gestures when they do something wrong and they get splattered with snow. The mountains are vast and you can travel from the top to the bottom without any loading. It does have a few slow downs on certain areas but it’s not something that really bothered me.
Generally, the game is the most fun I had in a sports related game. The controls are mostly great, the music is perfect, and the graphics is one of best in Wii. It’s one sport game that even a new player can get into, but can get a little frustrating in the some events. Even though I do have issues with the Slalom event and the Ubertricks, this is still one game that I’m happy to play for several hours.

Originally published on GamEX Magazine.

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