Idol Minds

989 Studios


Cool Boarders 4 Review

By: John Doe

Cool Boarders 4 brings the title back on track after a so-so outing with CB3. Much better control, cool events, real pro boarders and a create-a-player feature that works very well are going to make CB fans very happy.


Every time I have to review a snowboarding title, I feel kind of weird. Why, you ask? Well, because I've never done it. What the hell do I know about snowboarding aside from what I've done on the couch, in front of the TV? Racing games are no problem for me; I've driven and plenty fast too. Sports games, no problem there. I've played enough real games of hockey, football, basketball and baseball to know that I should never, ever, play them again. Fighting games don't cause me any guilt; I've been on the receiving end of a few good blows to know that I can and will be beaten up. Puzzle games? I've been stumped before, so no match point on that one. Shoot-em ups? I shot a rifle once and cried when the recoil hurt my shoulder, so I figure I'm an expert now. RPG's? I've talked to a lot of people and had to do a bunch of crappy low-level life-draining tasks to earn a miniscule, petty reward. Some call it role playing; I call it marriage. So there you have it. I've been there and done that, but unless you consider Super-Slider Snow Skates (or as the manufacturers called them, "Strap-On Plastic Death Shoes For Kids") down a freaking steep hill equivalent to snowboardin- Hey wait a minute! That's it! I have been cool! I used to use Super Slider Snow Skates. Okay, we can finally move on to the review, now that I'm like an expert on the subject of downhill winter sports. Thank you K-Tel!

Without a doubt CB4 is the pinnacle of the series. Not that it is leaps and bounds beyond the other CB games, but it does improve upon the control scheme, graphics and character selection of past installments. Heck, you can even create your own boarder and board, which really adds to the overall experience or you can choose from 16 real-life pro's for the first time in a CB game. This time out you'll have 5 mountains spread out over the globe to conquer: Colorado, Japan, Vermont, France and Alaska. As well as a variety of events to try your feet at: Downhill (race against 3 opponents), Slope Style (use the rails, hills and various objects for pulling off tricks), CBX (slalom race), Half-Pipe (Duh!) and Big Air (Double Duh!). If you beat all of the modes in Pro, you'll unlock 5 Special Events (1 special per mountain). These include Snowman Tag, Alien Escape, Powder Run and others events. There are also 4 play modes available: Single Race, Practice, Tournament (you can even build your custom tourney's), and Trickmaster. The Trickmaster event is where you'll learn how to pull off CB4's various tricks.

Speaking of tricks, CB4's got 'em and they are pretty easy to pull off thanks to spot on control most of the time. I found the analog control a little touchy at first when it came to accomplishing tricks that required diagonal movement, but I discovered that it was due more to my timing and landing of the trick, than anything else. After a good solid hour or two, the tricks were pretty much ingrained, and pulling off combos was like riding a bike. The control of the boarders is equally as good. Maneuvering between trees or lining up jumps for big air is responsive. Of course, the Cool Boarders series has never been one of complete realism, instead trying for more of an arcade approach. So, you'll find the boarders stick to their boards a little too well, but you probably won't care.

Graphically, this is the best CB yet. The snow and varying levels of powder look great. There are even trail effects that add to the overall look of the game. The pop-in is at a minimum, allowing you to line up jumps and avoid obstacles in enough time. Lastly, the boarders themselves look great, as does the various animations of the tricks. Using the create-a-boarder feature, you'll be able to colorize clothes, and set the height and girth of your particular boarder. Then you can create the ultimate snowboard, and tweak it to get the most performance out of it.

Musically, I was disappointed with this year's installment. I was really hoping for some real bands. The tunes are okay, but some real audio would have kicked the game a little harder.

Now considering this is the fourth installment, is it four times better? Of course not. It improves upon the ideas set in the first game, but isn't miles ahead of any of its predecessors or any other snowboarding game for that matter. In fact, 1080 for N64 is still my favorite snowboarding game. That being said CB4 plays well and it looks good and you'll enjoy playing it. That's about as good as you can say about any game that shows up every year. It's impossible to drastically improve things with only a short amount of development time, nor is it a smart idea to do that, as you may alienate your original audience who liked things just the way they were. I wouldn't expect things to change that much in CB5 either. Maybe CB6 for the PS2 might turn things upside down. I guess we'll just have to sit wait and see.






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