reviews\ Jan 1, 2002 at 7:00 pm

SSX Tricky - GC - Review

Last October, many gamers fell in love with the highly-addictive snowboarding game SSX. The fast, exciting and near-perfect gameplay made it a must-have launch title. Earlier this year, Electronic Arts announced that a new SSX game would be released in the fall. Although it was never confirmed as a sequel or a PS2-exclusive, many gamers thought [assumed] that it was a sequel and would only be released on Sony's console. Now that winter is here, we learn that neither is the case. SSX Tricky has been released for all three of the major game consoles (technically there are only three, since the Dreamcast was retired last March) and it's more of a remake than anything else. Is that a bad thing? Yes, it is. But nothing I say can change that and make it a sequel. What's done is done. Hopefully EA will learn from their mistakes and make a true sequel next time. For now though, GameCube owners have a terrific snowboarding game to play.

SSX Tricky has several game modes, including: Race, Showoff and Time Challenge. Prior to selecting one of those modes, you may choose either Single Event or World Circuit. Single Event allows you to race any unlocked track as much as you want, but to unlock every track, you must first play through the main World Circuit mode (Race). World Circuit is fun, but somewhat repetitive because you must race each course three times (and win) before you can move onto the next track! This means that you must win first place three times to fully beat the course. You can still pass by earning second or third place, but if you get anything below that, you'll have to race the track again. Showoff is the game's stunt mode. Score several thousand points in each course to unlock new characters. There is also a new Tutorial Mode that everyone will love. This excellent, comprehensive tutorial will turn any snowboarding newbie into a master boarder in no time. Last but not least, there are the Time Challenge and Practice/Freeride modes. Time Challenge is a race against the clock, just as the manual states, and the Practice mode is for practicing. Simple, but fun.

I am truly amazed at how well the GameCube controller performs with SSX Tricky. EA should be applauded (as any developer should) for accomplishing the impossible. Actually, it wasn't impossible, Dave Mirra 2 played great on the GameCube. But EA still deserves some credit because so many games have been ruined, or at the very least damaged by the awkward button layout the GameCube uses. SSX Tricky was developed for the PlayStation 2 -- this is just a port. Albeit, an excellent port, but still a port.

To play the game, you just pick up the controller and enjoy. There's no fumbling over which button to press (the Z trigger does feel a little strange though). The L, R and Z buttons grab the board; the A button crouches and jumps; hold down B to get an adrenaline boost; and press the Y button to reset after crashing. Even the slippery C-stick (which is used to push your opponents off of their boards) works great. Both of the analog sticks have been fine-tuned to react to the slightest movements, just as they were on the Dual-Shock 2. Strangely enough, you must use the D-pad to perform the majority of the tricks. Surprisingly though, it isn't nearly as awkward to do as it sounds. I like to use the thumbstick to steer, so when I'm going to perform a trick, I quickly move my thumb onto the D-pad, complete the trick (assuming I don't crash) and move my thumb back. Doing so takes very little practice, making it easy for beginners to just jump right in.

Nintendo loyalists missed out on SSX last year, so many gamers will be playing it for the very first time on GameCube. With that said, SSX Tricky is an excellent buy. If you loved the original game but never bought it, now's your chance to get an updated version on the console of your choice.

#Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8.6
SSX Tricky is the same as SSX, yet different. Not a whole lot has changed, but the subtle differences are pretty obvious. In some ways, SSX Tricky is more refined, and in other ways it isn't quite right. Regardless, this is the best snowboarding game ever released on a Nintendo console. It's so good, that Nintendo is rumored to have canceled the sequel to 1080 Degrees Snowboarding because the game is inferior to SSX Tricky. If that doesn't put a smile on EA's face, nothing will.

Graphics: 7 
SSX Tricky has good graphics, but I'm disappointed because it doesn't look any better than the original. The character models appear to have been slightly improved, but it's been so long since I've played the original game that I cannot be certain. I am certain that the backgrounds, trees, mountains, snow, etc., look identical though.

Sound: 3
I've had it with techno music! Not every song in SSX Tricky is techno, but who cares -- "It's Tricky" is one of the worst songs that I have ever been forced to listen to in my entire life. Bif Naked and Macy Gray have lent their, uh, "talented" voices to the game, but they did nothing more than annoy me so much that it made the sound of a cow giving birth seem pleasant.

Difficulty: 6
Electronic Arts said that they wanted to make SSX Tricky more accessible to gamers and for the most part they've done just that. As good as that may seem, it's actually very, very bad. EA will sell the most copies of SSX Tricky to the hardcore gamer crowd who bought the original at the PlayStation 2's launch. Newcomers will appreciate the decreased difficulty, but if they disappoint their main audience, then they've defeated the purpose of trying to make this a mainstream game.

Concept: 5.9 
For some strange reason, game developers feel that it's okay to remake/and or port them to other consoles instead of making a brand-new sequel.

Multiplayer: 7
You won't get bored while playing SSX Tricky with a friend, though your other friends might since only two can play the game simultaneously. It's a real shame. The GameCube's Gekko processor is once again wasted, as are the console's four controller ports.

Overall: 8.5
SSX Tricky is another great GameCube port. It wasn't developed specifically for the GameCube, but if it weren't for the dated graphics, you'd never be able to tell. GameCube may not have as many sports games as Xbox or PlayStation 2, but the ones it does have -- especially SSX Tricky -- are worth buying. I don't agree with the "quality over quantity" PR bit, but at least this time the best third-party sports games were released on all three consoles, allowing everyone to experience them.


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