Monday, May 16, 2016

SSX 3


   I don't know why I'm reviewing a bunch of games from the latter years of my childhood, but I am. So deal with it. 90% of my personality is one un-ending nostalgia trip. You say "It's" I say "morphin' time!" You say "snowboarding"... I say SSX 3. That's just how these things go. I've been on a snowboard once in my life, and it was in my friend's backyard. We did nothing but fall over and sprain a couple ankles. If you asked me who my favorite snowboarder was, I couldn't tell you. I don't have one outside of this game. Me even coming across this game is a story unto itself, because it's still really not the kind of game I'd ever gravitate to on my own.

   If you put a football game on and hand me a controller, I'll just look at you confused for the longest while until someone takes the football game out and puts in a game with guns and monsters. But, if we absolutely had to compromise, I'd meet you at SSX 3. A game that makes snowboarding look like a futuristic deathsport. The Wachowskis needed to make this into a movie, purely as a companion piece to Speed Racer. Because, according to this game, snowboarding is all about insane tricks that gives you speed boosts which send you flying down hill at 70 miles an hour as an avalanche is nipping at your heels, and you've just punched some guy off his board- wait, what?

   Despite how over the top crazy all that sounds, SSX 3 is an easy to pick up game for veterans of the genre and newcomers alike. People (like myself) who never thought a snowboarding game could keep their attention, need only to play this for ten minutes or so. It's energetic, colorful and challenging in the best way. It's easy to learn but hard to master. At first, you're proud of yourself when you pull off a backflip, or grab your board while sailing through the air on a big jump, but before long you're pulling off quadruple axle spins, while interchanging several different hand grabs, all whilst flipping backwards in midair. At that point, you're chasing big numbers- scores, and times. It's so involving that you can almost forget how awesome you look while doing this.

   Well, how awesome your character looks. You probably look like a zombie; mouth agape, fingers furiously tapping away at the buttons. But, isn't that one of the signs of a good or at least engrossing game? Getting completely lost in it? SSX 3 is one of those games for me. I've never played any of the others, save for the reboot- which I didn't give much of a chance (but might give it another shot someday) because this is where it was at for me. The crazy characters, the fantastic soundtrack, and the over the top setting. The mountains and slopes in this game are something of pure fiction. It's like if the crazies behind Hot Wheels tracks were hired to design a snowboarding course, only nobody told them it'd be used for people and not life sized action figures.

   Pipes to grind on, meticulously laid out on the mountains over miles and miles of snow, ice, rocks, and weird man-made obstacle courses. Everything is pulsing with energy and bursting with color. Visually, the game hooks you and pulls you in. As does the RPG-esque gameplay. See, a trick for a trick's sake is fine. But these give you points and money, and money buys upgrades. You level up your character and buy clothes to give them a unique look. The character you end up with after a week or so is definitely not the character you started with. After that long, my boarder, Elise- had a flaming, flattened cardboard box for a snowboard- and legitimate angel wings on her back.

   This isn't a sports game! This is something else entirely! Nevertheless, whatever it is, SSX 3 boasts an impressively streamlined set of controls, and a host of engaging game mechanics. It's an action packed thrill ride of a game which manages to balance nearly-science fiction levels of dangerous craziness with the core concept of a familiar winter sport. I recommend this game to anyone just looking for fun. It's too good to pass up and it's a cryin' shame I never stumbled across any game like this for the PS3 or the 360. It's time to dust off the ol' PS2 guys, you won't regret it.

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