Do I recommend 1080 Degrees Snowboarding? Yes. If that's all you wanted to know then you can stop reading right now. Did I give it a perfect score? No. Nintendo has done a magnificent job with 1080, once again proving that nobody can make games for the 64-bit console like it can, but the title still has a few problems (very minor ones) that can't be overlooked.
Created in-house by Nintendo, 1080 took less than a year to make. In addition to another programmer from Argonaut, the 1080 team also enjoyed the assistance of ex-Wave Race developers and the similarities between the two games are often more than coincidence.
- Six courses, including: Crystal Lake, Crystal Peak, Golden Forest, Mountain Village, Dragon Cave and Deadly Fall
- Two bonus stunt modes: half-pipe and air-make
- Nearly 30 different tricks
- Eight playable characters equipped with Tommy Hilfiger designs (including three hidden -- the Metal Boarder, Crystal Boarder and Panda Boarder)
- Eight custom Lamar snowboards, plus one hidden (penguin board)
- Multiple gameplay modes, including: Match race, time attack, trick attack, contest, and training (includes half-pipe)
- Split-screen two-player mode
- Rumble Pak support
- Options menu
What makes a good snowboarding game? Most people would say lots of speed, lots of tricks and the ability to catch tree-top air. Nintendo's 1080 Degrees Snowboarding has all of that and more, but you have to be able to master the game's controls and learning curve before the real fun begins.
Oddly enough, this game is actually pretty hard. Tricks have to be performed precisely and landings timed just right or a potentially impressive stunt could lead to a board-breaking disaster. Players control their choice of boarder with the analog stick as he/she races down the slopes. Holding and then releasing the A button performs a jump. The Z-trigger is an intricate part of landing a jump correctly and if not pressed and held at exactly the right time riders may crash. Various tricks, including methods, 180 and 360 airs, tweaks, and one-footers can be performed using a combination of the B button, analog stick and R button. For example, spinning the analog stick in a full 360 and then pressing the R button while in the air will result in a 360 degree spin. Of course, each stunt (or crash) is enhanced with the use of Nintendo's Rumble Pak.
The object of this mode is to finish the race as quickly as possible. To do so, players must avoid crashing and sliding out. Even jumps and tricks can lead to loss of valuable time. There is no timer in this mode.
Bonus points are awarded when a trick is correctly performed and landed. Certain tricks and combinations earn extra points, depending on their difficulty. The object of trick attack mode is to accumulate as many points possible performing tricks throughout the race. In addition, this mode runs on a timer, and the only way to generate extra time is to race through time-gates located at various locations in the courses. Missing a gate may cause the time to run out, in which case all points are lost.
Match race mode can be played in three degrees of difficulty, including normal, hard, and expert. Depending on what difficulty setting is chosen, players must race one computer opponent (changes from level to level) through four to six courses. Beating this mode on hard unlocks track five (Dragon Cove). Beating the expert match race unlocks the final level (deadly fall).
Players must race through a handful of different levels, including air-make and half-pipe, accumulating points by performing tricks and beating the tracks as quickly as possible. Flags, which players must race through correctly to gain more points and time, are located throughout the courses. At the end of all the races and stunt tracks one final score is awarded.
This mode includes the half-pipe and a down-hill race filled with snow-hills and ramps. Again, points are awarded for tricks. Pressing C-Right in this mode reveals all the moves that are possible and even shows players how they are done. Very helpful. Good luck with the 1080.
Riders and boards
There are five normal riders in the game, including: Ricky Winterborn, Akari Hayami, Rob Haywood, Dion Blaster and Kensuke Kimachi. Each rider has their strengths and weaknesses. For example, Dion Blaster is extremely fast, but is also prone to crashing. Ricky Winterborn, on the other hand, has wonderful technique, but isn't all that quick. In addition to the five regular riders, there are also three hidden, bonus characters: the crystal boarder, metal boarder and panda boarder.
There are also eight custom Lamar snowboards in addition to one hidden penguin board (Miyamoto's trademark returns). Like the riders, each board offers its own benefits and downfalls. Some boards offer greater speed with terrible flex, whereas others deliver just the opposite. The trick is combining the right rider with the right board for the perfect racing combination.
How it plays
1080 Degrees Snowboarding plays a lot like Wave Race 64, believe it or not. Both games offer players realistic racing environments and intuitive control schemes. Whereas 1080 delivers more tricks, Waverace has more courses. Boarders control fast and easy, always reflecting the snow and mountains they are racing. When a rider shreds through thick snow, it becomes very hard to turn and the sense of speed slows greatly. Likewise, when a player skates across solid ice the boarder will slide uncontrollably, making accurate turns nearly impossible.
The air factor
Nintendo's snowboarder ties with San Francisco Rush for the most air possible in a videogame. Players can generate 10 feet of jump from bumps in the snow if performed correctly; ramps, cars, ledges, hills, giant cliffs, and even roof-tops are all open game for air. Of course, soaring through the air has advantages and disadvantages-advantages. The upside is that multiple tricks can be performed for tons of bonus points. The downside is that players may lose time lingering in the air; also, with each jump comes the chance of a crash. Still, pulling off a 900-degree air, one-foot successfully is worth any risk.
It's a small matter, but I couldn't get over the fact that some courses feature invisible walls in locations that beg for exploration. For example, in track six (Dragon Cove), players have a chance to jump over a fenced-in mound of snow down to a ledge below; it would be very time-saving were it possible, but an invisible wall prevents that from happening. Luckily, this isn't a regular occurrence, but it is noticeable now and again.
The only other gameplay problem with 1080 (despite the difficult learning curve, which is a matter of opinion), is the fact that it only features six racing tracks. Sure, the addition of the air-make and half-pipe stunt tracks are a plus, but the lack of courses is still disappointing. Maybe in the sequel?
Quite simply, this is the most beautiful snowboarding game ever created. Nothing compares -- nothing. The development team should be applauded for 1080's effects, which vary from course to course. The game's lens-flair is the best and most realistic we've ever seen (and we've seen this effect way too many times); it actually decreases in size (mimicking reality) when partially blocked by a tall mountain or hill. The skies always portray a different shade of day (or night), various weather conditions (including storms) and even beautiful, orange sunsets that illuminate the snow. Speaking of the snow, it looks even better than the surrounding environments, and it also varies throughout tracks. Powdered snow, for example, sprays up a thick haze of snow-dust behind a boarder, whereas ice reflects characters. When a player makes a sharp curve, the boarder will actually balance himself by putting his hand into the snow and it leaves trails! The game looks absolutely fantastic and the frame rate, which rarely slows, only compliments the eye-candy. Because each track offers loads of depth and visibility, pop-up is occasional, but not a problem. Also, sometimes a character will give-off a shadow where there should be none.
The characters themselves are stylish and unique. Kensuke wears a beanie and baggy pants (courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger, no doubt); Rob Haywood sports Adidas-like pants and a jacket; Dion Blaster features a striped dew with black and red sweats, and Akari Hayami fashions a pair of goggles and a thick jacket. Truly, the look of 1080 is a realistic and refreshing change from the normal Nintendo product.
This title really represents Nintendo's second-generation of high quality cartrdige music and sound effects. Various techno and rappy beats, samples like "this is a test of the emergency broadcast system" and scratches of "call me"; thrashy, foozed-out vocals compliment the action of the game continuously. The game is a shining example of what can be achieved on the format given time.
1080 delivers two-player races via split-screen. Remarkably, the visibility even in two-player mode is immense, with all effects turned on. Even the translucent crystal boarder (using texture reflecting) doesn't interfere with the multiplayer mode's frame rate. The two-player game is strictly for racing -- whoever finishes first wins. Of course, tricks can still be performed, but they're useless (unless impressing friends is your objective). In two-player mode, players can only race one-another; in other words, there are no computer opponents. Overall, this mode is extremely well-done and equally satisfying. One of the best multiplayer games thus far, despite the fact that it's only two-player.
The Final Word
Nintendo's 1080 Degrees Snowboarding is a remarkable game. With a handful of unique tracks, air-make and half-pipe modes, two-player and Rumble Pak support, an ultra-realistic look with spectacular graphics and tons of tricks, jumps, and air there is a lot of fun to be had with this game. I only wish Nintendo had spent a few more months implementing additional tracks and removing invisible walls before its release. Still, snowboarding fanatic or not, you must own this game.