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Sunday: March 4, 2007

Ten Point Review of SSX Blur for the Nintendo Wii.

I recently picked up a copy of SSX Blur for my beloved Nintendo Wii. I should preface to say that one of my favorite games is SSX Tricky. I'm not a sports video gamer by any means. Something about the SSX series just screams fun to me and Tricky was and still is a blast to play. I figured I would take a crack at SSX Blur to see if EA could recreate the magic I first had with this title.

Below is my first ever ten point review. Rather than dive into a long article about every aspect of the game, I figured I'd just point out ten likes and ten gripes I have with this game.

The Bad:

  1. The Controls
    My biggest gripe with this game is the learning curve. The controls take a lot of getting used to before you can actually dig into the slopes and have fun. This is probably what turned off so many reviewers. SSX Blur is not something you can just pick up and be good at. It seriously requires some practice to get things right. Once this is overcome, it's really not that bad. However, impatient gamers will probably want to throw this game out the window.

  2. Lack of Character Voicing
    There is no character voice acting. If you liked this aspect of the game on SSX Tricky, you're not going to find it in this game. What happened to the smart-alecky Mac voice overs? What happened to Mac talking smack to other riders mid-race? And when did Mac become Mackenzie? Weak sauce.

  3. Lack of Rahzel
    I gotta tell you, what really made SSX Tricky fun the first time around was Rahzel's narrations. In Tricky, you had this urban feel with everything you did, and it also kind of egged you on to do better in the game. You'd hear Rahzel say 'the crowd wants to see a new trick' or in the case that you pulled the same trick twice he'd chastise you. That to me, was funny. A memorable quote: 'Again with the same trick? Spin the other way!' There was also something about hearing 'Call your momma in the room and show her how great you are' that still makes me chuckle. Bring back Rahzel, EA.

  4. Slalom Challenges
    This has to be the most frustrating part of the game. Basically, you have to ski around flags. Here's the problem: the controls. The controls are not sensitive enough to make the right turns at the right time. The only way to do this is to try and take these challenges at turtle-like speed. It's flat-out annoying. The nunchuk controls simply do not cut it for this kind of event. And yes, I tried changing the sensitivity of the remote under the Options menu.

  5. Ubertricking
    Ubertricking in this game is a great concept. While in mid-air, you draw certain shapes with the Wiimote to pull off complicated tricks. However, these shapes can be hard to pull of the right way without some major practice. It's a very cute and fun aspect to the game but annoying at the same time. Also, you may find yourself focusing on drawing the shape rather than watching that crazy trick your rider is trying to pull off. Wasn't that the whole point of Ubertricks? To watch your rider do something unexpected and crazy on a snowboard? Nevermind that, I just drew a heart.

  6. No Manual
    The manual is a joke. It's seriously only 3 pages long and has no real information about the game. Basically, there is no manual. All of the basic gameplay advice and tutorials require you to actually play the game. Is it really that hard to make a decent manual these days? Before I pop in a game, give me a manual I can read so I know what I'm in for. Seems like either EA had to cut a corner somewhere or they just got lazy.

  7. No Online Gaming
    Online gaming would have made SSX Blur such a winner. But alas, there is none. Although I suppose this isn't really EA's fault. Many people have noted it is Nintendo who hasn't opened the gates to developers for online play.

  8. Legibility
    The in-game text in some cases is EXTREMELY difficult to read. Who chose this font (or its size)? Or was this done on purpose to camouflage the idiotic yeti factoids? I found myself having to get right up close to the television to read these 'fun' little DID YOU KNOW's. This really bugs me. Did none of the testers notice this? Reading (useless) factoids shouldn't give me eye strain.

  9. Loading Screens
    While the loading times are quite marginal, sometimes when completing or restarting a track there's a slight pause that can throw off the pace of your gaming experience. It's a slight annoyance but this could have been ironed out in a smoother fashion to continue the SSX experience.

  10. Game Crashes
    I'm not sure if this happened to other people but every now and then my game freezes up causing me to have to restart the Wii all together. This has happened to me three times so far (all of which after completing a tournament). As of this writing, it hasn't happened again in other tournaments I've played in the game (knock on wood).

The Good:

  1. Control Scheme Mastery
    Once the control scheme is mastered, tricking is actually quite fun and enjoyable. Assuming of course that you figure out how to land properly. Make sure you keep your Wiimote's strap firmly around your wrist. This game was the first case of accidental Wiimote flinging that I encountered.

  2. Level Design
    The levels are great this time around (not that it really was a problem in SSX Tricky or SSX 3). Most of the slopes have plenty of jumps, hidden twists and turns, and giant half-pipes. There's a lot to do and a hell of a lot of fun to be had. The remixed tracks from SSX3 aren't too shabby either although I would have liked some new track concepts all together (Tokyo Megaplex anyone?).

  3. Graphics
    SSX Blur is easy on the eyes during actual gameplay (except of course some on-screen text as mentioned before). The menus and navigations are very creative and colorful. Graphically this game is a step up although that was kind of expected being that this game was made for a brand new console that has slightly better graphics capabilities.

  4. Unlockables
    Holy schnikes, is there a lot to unlock in this game. You can get anything from reward-type items like concept art to rider-specific stuff like boards and skis. Most of these unlockables can be attained using 'Free Ride' which makes replaying existing tracks quite entertaining and enjoyable.

  5. Multiplayer
    Despite what other reviews have said - split screen multiplayer isn't all that bad. I would have liked to see more variance in the event types. The 4 player 'hot-seat' party mode is something I have not tried at this point. Why? Because I don't have four friends to play with.

  6. Free Ride
    This is a clever aspect to the game that I really enjoy. Free Ride essentially lets you go off and explore the different peaks looking for items and hitting up different challenges that game throws at you. It can be relaxing simply exploring the different nooks and crannies of the slopes in the game.

  7. Challenge Factor
    This game doesn't pull punches - it can be pretty tough. Even on the very first tournament you choose to compete in the act of getting first place is no picnic. This is a welcome change, but sometimes the difficulty level is almost unreal. It might turn off the casual video gamer, or just plain frustrate normal ones.

  8. Sound
    The music is fun and enjoyable. As you progress in a given event, assuming you do well, the music will get more intense and complex. It would have been a giant plus if you were able to play your own tracks using the Wii's SD card slot. That aside, the sound quality (music-wise) gets the job done.

  9. Grooving, Boosting, Blurring, Whatever
    Boosting (or grooving as it was renamed in this version of SSX) is neat. As you build up speed the in-game graphics 'blur' around you - hence the title of the game. The other really neat effect of this is that you can go really, really fast using this feature. You'll think your Neo at the end of Matrix Reloaded (especially with the blurring in full effect).

  10. Laughing at Other People
    You'll probably get a kick out of watching other people try to pull off Ubertricks. Wiimotes will flail in every direction trying to pull off a certain shape pattern. Explaining how to draw a particular shape to someone can be comedy gold as well. My favorite quote from my other half whilst mid-game - 'I think I know how to draw a freakin' Z , thank you very much'.

Bottom Line: This game is fun and enjoyable once you get over the giant learning curve, but even with the controls mastered some aspects of the game are still quite difficult.

Posted to Verbose filed in Video Games @ 12:04 PM | Tags (3) | ssx | review | wii |  | Discuss (0) |  | facebook | twitter | 0 Clicks | Posted by Vin

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