Review: SSX Tricky
Posted 05 Nov 2002 at 09:12 by David
This is going to be very interesting... Those are the first words you will hear when you power up your Cube with Tricky inside. And how true those words are. Extreme sports games are very popular these days. The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series practically invented the genre. But with a new day comes new sports games, and SSX Tricky is one of them.
Lets start with the graphics. Pretty good. Many people gripe that just because a game has PS2 origins it means the games graphics are crap, or well below par. In this case the graphics are quite good, boasting very vibrant colours, they are not GameCube's best graphical show so far, but they do the job. The lip-synching is quite good, as the voices keep up with the characters moving lips. The arenas look average, though detail is quite low throughout the courses. The draw distance isn't great, especially in multiplayer, but you'll bear it for the game's sheer playability. The ability to change your character's costume when you're rising up the ranks is a nice touch also. However, it is unfortunate that detail is as low on the character's costumes as it was on the arenas. There are over four costumes for each character, each possessing their own name. An excellent addition to the game is the fights that go on after a match, which has your character spouting out insulting comments to the other racers. It is funny, and adds even more character to a game that is about to explode with character already.
The game excels on the sound side of things, also. Catchy songs play throughout the levels and a "DJ" talks to you while you play, basically just letting you know when you have done something stupid. Celebrity voices were cast for the characters, and it really shows, as each of the characters is unique and memorable in his/her own way. There is a lot of speech in the game, which is much nicer than making you read text for the whole experience. The sound effects are pretty sweet too, especially when moving between the soft crunching of snow to the scraping of your board on a huge block of ice. Sweet.
SSX Tricky's gameplay is simple yet oh so addictive. The game contains three game modes, Training, Single Session and World Circuit. The meat of the game lies in the World Circuit where you build your character from the lowly Newbie to the supreme overlord of snowboarding (the Master). Within the World Circuit there are two game modes called Showoff and Race. Race is quite self-explanatory, race to the finish and try to claim a medal, while Showoff has you performing many dazzling tricks to claim a bronze, silver or gold medal. Performing tricks in either Showoff or Race raises the tricky meter on the side of your screen. When this meter is full, you can perform an uber-trick, which is worth a LOT of points. You can also boost whenever you want providing that your Tricky meter is partly full. Kind of complicated, I know, but stick with it and it'll grow on you.
As you progress through the World Circuit mode, you can build up your character by getting medals, which unlock new courses. Getting medals means you can give your character valuable experience points. Aside from the World Circuit mode, there is Single Session mode and Practice. In Single Session mode you can have an off-the-record race with the computer, or you can race or out-trick a friend in the multiplayer mode. Its sounds a bit complex, but it isn't really. The multiplayer is unbelievably addictive, not SSBM addictive, but in my opinion the third best multiplayer game on Cube (behind SSBM and then SMB). It certainly has an arcadey flavour, but it combines its own unique gameplay experience with N64 classic 1080 to deliver one of the most exhilarating gameplay experiences ever.
It's not without its faults, however. It is quite hard to get to gripes with at the beginning, and points are awarded sometimes too harsh and other times too easily. The Y-button serves a potentially good purpose, but ends up being more annoying than anything else. It simply gets you out of nasty situations, which is a tad cheap. But, worse still, is that Y is often pressed in times of panic by reflex to unleash a good trick, but instead you flash back a few paces. Annoying. For an arcade-style game, it can be a bit slow at times. Also, the conversion is a bit sloppy when compared to the PS2 original. The main drawback of the game has to be its lifespan. The game is a lot of fun to start with, no denying that, but the game changes very little in the course of the entire game, which then makes the game feel monotonous and thus boring. But, SSX Tricky is still covered with the addictive feeling that comes over you at the start of the game right until the very last time you may play it, which will be a few years anyway.
The controls are okay, but a bit fussy at first. The awkward Z button is used for a lot of the big tricks, which sucks. Apart from that the rest are not bad. The use of the D-Pad for 360 turns is also awkward. You can't help but feel EA did not put enough effort into fine-tuning the controls before launch. The use of the other buttons is fine, A to jump is predictable, but the most annoying button in the controls has to be Y. As mentioned before, it brings you out of bad situations like caught in corners and the like, but when starting the game, there is a certain degree of button bashing going on, and unfortunately, Y is the button people seem to press a lot when bashing.
Go into the training mode to get used to the controls before you do anything else, it'll be worth it later on.
Overall, SSX Tricky is a brilliant accomplishment for EA. The best Extreme sports game I have ever played, and hopefully if there is a sequel it will add some more new ideas. Lifespan is the main issue here, as everything else is in place. It took me a week to finish Race and Showoff mode with one character. There is loads left, though, so the potential for a long lasting game is there, it just really depends on whether or not you want to go through it all again and again. Although the game is a bit too samey, the fun you have pulling massive tricks, laughing into the face of your competitors as you knock them off their boards and pulling of gigantic airs is so far unmatched on Cube. Excellent work, and a genuine nice surprise.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Great fun in the snow, just not enough to last.
Lots of extras
Poor Attention To Detail