Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip - WII - Preview
It is fair to say that Shaun White knows a thing or two about snowboarding, but the big question would be if that knowledge translated to the video-game world. Ok, with a couple of titles already released, it appears that White, along with publisher Ubisoft have a title that continues to enthrall sports fans who happen to be video gamers. However, with the pending release of Shaun White Snowboarding on the Wii, the aspect of the game is about to not only take on some terrific new game control elements but also – because of those controls – appeal to a broader base of gamers.
The latest title in the franchise uses the Wii Fit board, and actually asks players to stand on the board, aligned much like a snowboard with one foot in front of the other, calibrate to their weight and balance and then use their body controls to steer and maneuver the board. If, for example, you stand with your left foot forward, then leaning left puts you into a tuck that will accelerate your boarder. Conversely, leaning back will slow you down; leaning forward will turn you to the right and leaning back will affect a turn to the left. You can put the Wiimote into the picture, but using the A and B buttons to do grabs. Head into a half-pipe, run up the side of the pipe and grab air and continue to push your weight in the direction you were going and you will pull off a spin.
It is really entertaining, a solid workout, and somewhat challenging. Ubisoft had the title on display for a hands-on demo at E3 in the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Considering the way this control element comes into play, some players might be semi-daunted by the prospect of putting so much body control into the game. They might be worried that it will prove hard to control. It is quite the contrary. The game is very simple to jump into and play with an instant measure of success.
There are 20 separate locations in the game, each with built-in challenges, but the maps themselves can become the challenge with players looking to pull off the quickest run or score the most points with skill moves.
According to the dev team, Shaun White was very involved in the making of the game. Snowboarding is, after all, a very image-driven sport, and White worked with the team from the nuances of character creation to the music, to the feel of the connection between board and snow. As a result, the focus falls firmly on the game and not on the control scheme. And the board gives players a very physical and connected feel to the game.
Because of the venue, the sound was negligible and while the graphics could not keep pace with the 360 version, they did do a solid job of bringing the sport home.
After a mere 15 minutes, the muscles running along the outside of the shin were a bit sore from the constant shifts in balance, but the rewards of accomplishing spins and not eating half the snow on the mountain while traversing the downhill run were evident in the grin sported. This is a lot of fun and should provide players with a lot of replayability.
Look for Shaun White Snowboarding to release around the holiday season.