Back to the Mountain Top: SSX
It’s back. That’s right, EA is rebooting the SSX franchise with a new game that hits the mountains February 28th, 2012. Now for some, you may be wondering “what is SSX?”. The Acronym stands for “Snowboard Super Cross” and they do not exaggerate the use of the word “super.”
The first SSX game debuted on the PS2 in the fall of 2000. At the time it was top of the line graphics with great environments in which to race and have trick competitions to try to be the best boarder in the world. the game won five awards including “Console Sports Game of the Year” and “Racing Game of the Year” along with scores of 9.3 and 9.4 from IGN and GameSpot respectively.
Along with the outstanding music tracks and gameplay comes a cast of incredible characters to choose from. There’s the sassy and beautiful Elise Riggs, a proud Canadian that can talk and ride with the best of them. Zoe Payne, the scrappy boarder who’s in your face and rides however she pleases. Mac Frasier, the hip hop centric boarder who can rap just as well as he rides. The British Jokester Moby Jones who has a line for everything. Kaori Nishidake, the Japanese wonder who’s outfits allow her to look fantastic when she’s speeding past competitors.
With every iteration the stakes get increased on the SSX circuit for the competitors listed and those that appear throughout the series. SSX: Tricky saw the addition of “Uber Tricks” to the repertoire of the boarders. Uber Tricks were reality defying maneuvers that you literally could not try at home or anywhere else because of the complexity of them, and it made the gameplay all the more entertaining. This was largely due to the fact that the reward for completing an Uber Trick changed the landscape of the race or trick competition. Some maps were remixed from their original incarnations and some were added form new locations around the world.
The third part in the series, SSX 3 took the circuit to another new height as the circuit was placed on one mountain. The mountain was divided into three peaks each with its own unique tracks and had a “back country”, an unpolished run with natural hazards that were not to be trifled with. The competition was divided into four parts: racing, slopestyle trick competitions, big air trick events, and super pipes. Each had its own unique courses to suit the objectives of the competitions. Much like the original, SSX3 received rave reviews. IGN gave it a 9.5 and said “This is the best Snowboarding game I have ever played”. I can personally co-sign on this as I am still playing the game to this day, (released in 2003 for the original Xbox and it works like a dream on my 360 in 2012) and I will retire it upon the new game’s release.
How do you follow up the “best snowboarding game ever” you ask? You add a new dimension to the series. SSX “On Tour” went back to the premise of 3 with everything on one mountain, but it gave the player a character creator to create an original boarder to run the circuit against hundreds of no name and famous SSX veterans alike. It also let the player choose between being a snowboarder and, for the first time ever, a skier as some SSX veterans switched from one plank to two.
The most recent installment, is somewhat of a blur to me…oh, look at this, it was called SSX: Blur! This installment was a little different. It was a Wii exclusive that used the Wii remote’s motion tracking to maneuver the boarder or Skier down the mountain. It was not as critically acclaimed as any of its predecessors and did not sell as well due to being exclusive to one console. It was released in 2007 and was thought to be the last SSX game.
That was until E3 when a reboot was announced by EA sports, featuring the best of all the previous games. As a big fan of SSX I can personally say this game has me salivating whenever they release videos about the features, reveal characters or do anything that tells me about the game. Even with Mass Effect 3 looming a week prior to SSX being released, this game will take up a lot of my time in early March.