Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding manages to merge Cloud from Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation with snowboarding. My memory was a bit fuzzy so I had to consult a colleague of mine who was a real FFVII fan, and the snowboarding made a brief appearance as minigame in the original RPG. So there you go, the snowboarding is a (or more accurately, yet another) legitimate spin off of Final Fantasy VII.
There are some small reminders that the snowboarding game comes from an role playing title. The way Cloud walks to your menu options in the main menu is a nice touch. Cloud, of course, looks like his own Playstation self circa the late 1990s. And of course music is no slouch.
How about the snowboarding? Well, it’s not exactly your typical SSX, Amped or in the wireless arena, Gameloft’s Massive Snowboarding. For one thing, there is significant draw-in, despite the lengthy and often twisty course designs. Secondly, while the main character is great looking, the rest of the environment is a bit bland. The snow texture on the ground need some work. For one thing, they don’t look very powder like. Because of some of these trade offs, the animation moves at a clip pace and you’re able to get a good sense of speed from the visuals alone.
That said, Square Enix has tried to mix up the traditional snowboarding game with some new objectives. You’re now responsible for grabbing balloons on your way through the course. Time is another factor and depending on how you score, you’ll unlock the next stage. The courses, by the way, have no bearing to any kind of a mountain. They work more like enclosed circuits in a Wipe Out game. I like the collecting balloons thing but for a snowboarding game there are precious few aerial jumps.
Altogether, Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding only features three courses with a bonus stage at the end. Without the jumps and style competition, it’s difficult to revisit the three courses without feeling some repetition. I was also disappointed there isn’t a lengthy character building component a la Final Fantasy VII. There aren’t any experience points, level ups or anything to make the game last longer.
Some of the shortcomings of Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding could easily be hidden as a minigame in the original RPG. However, as a standalone game, Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding needs more variety. It definitely requires more tracks and perhaps another type of game objective like aerial jumps, grinding, or some character progression system to increase the game’s depth.