Review: 1080: Avalanche

GC Review

Five years ago a game came out on the N64 that many believed to have kicked off the snowboarding genre within the world of video games. That game of course was 1080: Snowboarding. In the last seven years many software developers have tried to improve on it but none with the possible exception of EA's SSX series have come close. But now after a few delays and a switch of developers we have the follow up to the N64 classic, but does it hold up to the hype?


Visually you cannot fault this game, from the moment you start playing you'll be in awe of the beautiful mountainous areas you're placed in. The attention to detail is wonderful from well placed trees, rocks or buildings not only giving the levels life but of course obstacles for you to overcome. Another addition to give things more life is wildlife. A number of mountain animals have been placed with the game such as deer, squirrels and falcons. But of course the bigger animals like the deer and mouse can be a hazard aswell as a sight to behold. And not only that but also you'll see other humans on the courses, and these are not 2D spectators on the sidelines, but well detailed 3D models that can get in your way if your not careful. And not only are they on foot, but there are cars, jet-skis, helicopters and even air-force jets.

The characters themselves are also well modelled and each with their own unique style of clothing which helps give you an idea of each persons personality. But the best part about the characters clothing is when you're racing down the hill and clothing (and hair too) move and shake as you cut through wind. And then there's the snow effects, from small things like the snow tossed in the air as the board cuts through it or landing on the camera and melting to the snow clinging to the characters clothing. End up going knee deep in snow and when you get out of it there¡¦s still snow stuck to your jeans. Enter a heavy snow storm or crash and roll on the ground and your whole body becomes covered. But better still pick up speed and as your clothes shake in the wind the snow is shaken off too.

And last but by no means least the avalanches. Seeing tons of closing in on you from behind, nipping at your heels, trying to take you out gives a great sense of urgency. And more you get sucked into them the more all the white power obscures your vision of the course making it even harder to navigate. A truly amazing sight to behold and even more brilliant when you view it in replay. These all add to the realism of the game and are a wonderful touch to the graphics.


The best part of the sound has got to be the background music. Nintendo managed to make a real find when they licensed music from five bands new up and coming bands on the 'Wind-up Records' label. I wouldn't be surprised if these bands had a bit of a jump in record sales with the release of 1080, hell I have already ordered the 'Cauterize' album myself. Add to these a number of Nintendo's own in house music (which are like no other Nintendo music in the past) and you've got a great collection of 'modern' punk/rock songs to get the adrenaline pumping for those high speed races or even some slower paced ones to help calm your mind as you tackle the slopes. And even better at the loading screens for each level or when you pause during a race you can choose which song you want to listen to so you can be sure you have the right tunes to help get you in the best frame of mind for the race.

The characters all have voices but only a few pieces of dialogue, they all sound great and the voices suit each character to a tee. But it would have been better if there was a bit more variety to what they say. But a great touch is if you¡¦re in a tunnel or open mountain area, if your character shouts out you can here it echo which sounds great and has a brilliant effect especially if you have a class speaker system.

As well as these you've got great effects of all the different vehicles within the game, from the screeching of cars braking to the loud thunderous rumbling of the jet fighters. Oh and lets not forget the amazing sound of the falcons cawing as they soar over the mountains.


There are four modes of play for one player. The main one being 'Match Race', this has four difficulties and with the higher the difficulty the more races there are. This makes for 15 levels in total in the first 3 difficulties and the 7 levels in the final 'Extreme' difficulty are 7 of the best previous tracks mirrored. And the final track in each your opponent is not a CPU character but the mountain itself it which you'll race against time and an avalanche if you want to finish. It's a bit of a shame though that there's only four of these avalanche levels, racing against the snow gives a great rush they should have made a few more levels. And another downside is if you want to race the 'avalanche' levels again you must go to a password screen and enter a code you get when you beat a difficulty setting. I don't quite understand why beating it doesn't just unlock it in the time trail mode. The emphasis is all on the racing, this is first and foremost a racing game but you can still perform tricks if you want.

Performing tricks in races while could be risky and time costly could help too. With each trick to perform successfully your 'power' bar increases, fill it up and the next time you get close to your opponent you will knock them over, allowing you to gain a good lead (though it is a bit sneaky, but hey you wanna win don't you?). The first three difficulties are relatively but still you will very much enjoy racing them again and again just for fun. The final difficulty however is very hard. It may consist of mirrored tracks but the CPU characters are very fast and tough to beat, after getting through the first 3 fairly easy you'll undoubtedly get somewhat frustrated with the last (but surely some hardness is a good thing right?)

There are also 'Gate', 'Time Trail' and 'Trick' modes. With 'Gate' you can race on any track you've unlocked in 'Match' in a slalom style event. Race down the mountain passing through slalom gates and time checkpoints to earn points and set a high score to earn trophies. Earn enough trophies and you'll unlock some hidden secret boards to use.

In 'Time Trail' you can perfect your racing skills, learn the layout of each track, find shortcuts and spend endless hours trying to beat your fastest time. But also on each track there are five coin pieces to find (and in later levels they get very hard to find indeed), collect all five to earn a coin, get enough coins and you'll unlock a new board for each character.

Finally for one player there's 'Trick' mode. Here there are only 3 tracks specially made for performing tricks such as a half-pipe and big air ramp. While performing tricks is nice and simple control wise getting high scores is exceedingly hard as it will require you perform lots of trick combos if you want to get on the records board.

Of course there is a multiplayer mode for up to four players. You can race on just 6 tracks however which is a bit disappointing but with four players things get very interesting and very fun indeed. And best of all even in a four player split screen there doesn't seem to be any degrading in the graphics. 1080 also has a LAN option, though I have not been able to try it out myself due to not having all the equipment required. Although it does sound like a great thing to have I'm not entirely sure it's really required for this game. The most you can have playing in LAN is still only four players, so unless you've got a problem with split-screen action and everyone wants a whole TV to themselves I don't see many people using this option. But with that Warp Pipe thing the possibility of using this option to play 1080 online makes things a whole lot better.


Avalanche couldn't be easier to control. Things are simple and controls are responsive. You the control stick to turn, push forward to get a bit extra speed or pull back to slow down. Use the 'L' to tuck your boarder and gain more speed, but this will decrease your turning ability however so you have to learn how and when to use it to get that 1st place finish. 'L' is also used for grinding rails and making safe landings. 'A' is your jump button and the longer you hold it the higher you jump. When you first press it an indicator will appear and begin to fill the longer you hold it so you'll know when you'll be able to make the highest jump. But hold it down too long and the indicator will vanish you'll have to build it up again to jump. There are a few extra things to know with these basic controls and that is that even if you make a 'baddish' landing you can still recover without losing much time. For example if your boarder becomes unbalanced a meter will appear and you must quickly rotate the control stick the direction the meter shows, if you don't you'll lose balance altogether and fall. Also should you take a tumble you can still recover, as your rolling if you press 'L' at the right time you'll be able to stop the roll and land upright and continue boarding, but if you have a full power bar you'll still lose it cause you tumbled.

The tricks are also quite simple, 'X', 'Y' and 'B' are used doing grabs while in the air, when used in conjunction with the control stick you can perform different grabs. Use the 'R' button to perform spins and flips and if you quickly rotate the control stick you'll spin/flip faster and remember every 180 degrees spun equals a better trick, do you think you can pull off a 1080 spin? Doing tricks one by one is all well and good but if you want to get a good high score you're gonna have to fast with those fingers to pull off sick combos but don't get too carried away cause you still need to land properly if you wanna get the points.


A: Jump
B: Grab
X: Grab
Y: Grab
L: Tuck/Grind/Help with Landings
R: Spin/Flip
Z: none
C-Stick: Camera
D-Pad: none
Control Stick: steer.


While the first three difficulties in 'Match Race' are quite easy the forth is far from it so that should take you some time fully complete. Add to that collecting the trophies and coins in 'Gate' and 'Time Trail' to unlock new boards and new costumes and hidden characters to find in 'Match Race' it should take some time before everything is unlocked. But even after that 1080 is a very fun game to play and could find yourself coming back for more to replay 'Match Race' just for laugh, or spending ages trying beat your fastest times and high scores in 'Time Trial' and 'Trick' modes respectively.

Final Say:

If you liked 1080 on the N64 then you'll Avalanche loads more, it'll suck you in and never let go. This is however more of a racing game than anything so if you're and SSX fan you might not like 1080 because of that fact, but you should still give it a go you never know you might be pleasantly surprised. It's fast, it's fun and it's got a wicked soundtrack to boot. Something everyone should experience.

The early difficulties are somewhat easy as I've said before which is a bit disappointing and it could have done with a few more tracks, especially avalanche tracks. Oh and that password feature I just don't get why it's there and why you have to use it to replay the avalanche tracks. That's the biggest downside I can think of, why couldn't beating the avalanche tracks just unlock them in the Time Trail mode is mind boggling.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Avalanche succeeds in taking the 'best snowboarder' crown off of the N64 version.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals5
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Licensed Soundtrack
Great Fun!


That password thing.

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