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Game Over Online ~ Supreme Snowboarding

GameOver Game Reviews - Supreme Snowboarding (c) PlaynGo, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Supreme Snowboarding (c) PlaynGo
System Requirements Pocket PC, 2.0MB free RAM
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Friday, April 26th, 2002 at 07:28 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Snowboarding seems almost out of season in April but Supreme Snowboarding comes on the heels of a series of snowboarding titles released for next generation consoles. PlaynGo transfers the formula found in those games to the Pocket PC. While some snowboarding titles emphasize tricks, railing and jumps, Supreme Snowboarding is more interested in races and times. As such, the game is broken into free race and championship modes. A good two-thirds of Supreme Snowboarding's initial runs are locked and you have to unlock them through the championship mode. Championships involve a variety of time-based challenges issued to you on a particular run. After you complete a challenge, another run will open up and you can practice the newly opened run in the free race mode until the next one.

Like many snowboarding games in this genre, Supreme Snowboarding keeps track of a plethora of personal achievements. Best times are kept for each specific run. Moreover, you can save and load different championship runs so you don't mix up the progress of your individual snowboarders, or it prevents someone else from muddling yours. One of the problems I cited with the Xbox snowboarding title Amped is the fact that the runs themselves were geographically wide and lateral. Supreme Snowboarding, probably owing to the PDA's portrait configuration, still demands lateral movement but its courses are more elongated. They privileged length over width. This gives the game more of a race feeling and since performance is really based on time, it is aptly fitting. Jumping is still pretty useful in the game though. Performing certain jumps will earn you extra time bonuses. Some jumps are also timed so you can shave off a few seconds by going over obstacles, and on certain runs you can even jump over a snowed-in car.

Visually though, Supreme Snowboarding is a 2D top down title. Its animation is smooth and there is a slight trace of particle effects when you navigate through the snow. Particularly noteworthy is the attention to the star of the game itself, the snowboarder. The persona may be small but it reacts naturally to the varying degrees of turns applied. Unfortunately, the snow looks fairly bland and artificial. It effectively is one sheet of white pixels and the lack of anything organic about it almost makes it unbelievable. It could easily have been a blue background and turned into a Transworld Surf title. The visuals are saved by the sound effects but even those are far and few in between. I often wished Supreme Snowboarding would take a more aggressive, in-your-face type attitude that is often evoked by the sport itself. Perhaps a little music and commentary would make it more in line with the sport.

With experience, I found that one of the most crucial things about snowboarding games is the controls themselves. If they're too tough, you'll find yourself battling the control schema as much as you are the actual runs themselves. If they're too easy, a fast run might consist of nothing more than a few timely nudges. Thus, the actual connection between the snowboard itself and the player is absolutely crucial. Supreme Snowboarding gives you the choice of controlling via the stylus and the PDA's keypad. Both avenues don't provide absolute control. Those thinking you can simply draw a line from the start of the run to the bottom of the run will be in for a surprise. Supreme Snowboarding is about controlling the snowboard itself. And the physics of momentum mean you can't stop or turn on a dime. As you can probably guess by now, it takes quite some time to accelerate in Supreme Snowboarding, but it's helped (whereas Amped was not helped) by the fact that the runs are fairly lengthy in nature so you have ample real estate to gather speed. There's a slider in the main menu to control how sensitive you want the turning to be. On higher sensitivities, you don't feel as much friction but again, it's never as easy as merely connecting the dots with your stylus on the PDA screen. PlaynGo's idea of snowboarding, just as in real life, takes some getting used to.

In total, there are sixteen tracks altogether, of which you'll spend the majority of your time overcoming challenges to open up the latter ones. The runs increase in difficulty but unfortunately, there's no briefing screen or option to see the run before it happens. Because of the somewhat stiff controls, you really have to plan ahead of time to get the minimum times to complete challenges. This will undoubtedly lead players to take a scenic tour of a particular run to get to know the lay of the land, and then practice until they can clear the entire track in record time. These types of design create redundancy but I'm guessing it's a device by developers to extend the longevity of their game. A live automap during snowboarding or a quick glance at a map before the start of the run would have helped ease the frustration.

The small size of Supreme Snowboarding is something to cheer up about in light of the lack of extras. There's no multiplayer, support for ghost racers or additional tracks, which any single one alone would have added immensely to the game. So it all boils down to improving times and going over the few jumps that exist in the game. I always came to snowboarding games thinking the emphasis on merely performing tricks was too much. On the other hand, Supreme Snowboarding is all about getting to the base of the hill in a timely fashion. On its own, it also seems to err too much to the other side of the pendulum. If it were to include some of the trick-oriented play of the console snowboarding titles, PlaynGo would easily have a winner here. Throw in some good, maybe even customizable soundtracks, as well as multiplayer or some way to tie in the net as a platform for competition, and they'd hit more than solid gold.

[08/10] Addictiveness
[17/20] Gameplay
[12/15] Graphics
[08/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[03/05] Sound
[04/05] Discreetness
[11/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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