|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
The Nintendo 64, the newest of the current generation of game systems, is still lacking entries in many genres of games: basketball, role-playing, golf, etc. Nintendo's own 1080 Snowboarding fulfills a desire nobody really had, but we're glad to have it anyway.
1080 sends players to the slopes with any of six boarders on eight boards, each with their own strengths and skills. There are at least six different courses plus a variety of half-pipes, jumps, and other trick opportunities.
It takes awhile to settle into 1080's groove. It is important to find the right combination of racer and snowboard that suits a player's style and handling. The training areas aren't entirely helpful; the actual terrain players will encounter in their races and contests is more varied and rugged than the practice stage. Gamers will feel the results of reckless snowboarding, courtesy of the Rumble Pak.
The control is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Simple tricks, like 180's and nose grabs, require little skill, whereas the more complicated stunts call for much practice and patience, and a bit of luck. Learning to land (and not crash) after catching some hangtime is vital. The manual glosses over many of the finer points of snowboarding, leaving those details to an included, separate reference chart, which is easy to lose.
The graphics are crisp and detailed. Fluffy snow will slow you down, and has a distinct appearance from packed snow. The mountainsides rush by smoothly, the white sun above casting a slick reflection on the snow below.
The background music is minimal. With the proper environment, a good racing title can become a great one, but 1080 doesn't provide. The swishing of a board carving through the banks of a halfpipe or the rush of air as the ground rushes to meet you make for some perfect sound effects.
1080 provides four methods of solo gameplay, each with unique directives: a race against a computer-controlled boarder on a four- to six-course circuit; a time attack for best laps; a trick attack for best scores from executing stunts; and a combination of trick attack and slalom-style racing. Add in the number of boarders and boards, and the combinations are limitless. A two-player race is available, but three- and four-player options are absent. Another missing feature is the ability to save scores, times, and "ghost" laps to a memory pack, but only to the cartridge itself.
1080 is on par with Steep Slope Sliders on the Sega Saturn, and exceeds the quality of the PlayStation's Cool Boarders. The learning curve is initially daunting, but quickly overcome. More variety in tricks would be appreciated, but the assortment of gaming styles and courses balances any lacks. 1080 Snowboarding is a nice and welcome change in the racing genre.
This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 11-May-98