|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Porting 360 and PS3 titles over to the Wii is tricky business. Graphically, the Wii simply cannot match the power of its Microsoft and Sony counterparts. Likewise, trying to emulate traditional controls on the revolutionary Wii Remote is a recipe for disaster.
Thats why third-party developers must create titles from the ground up specifically for Wii. Thankfully, Ubisoft Montreal has done just that with Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip for Wii. The stylized cartoon presentation, compatibility with the Wii Balance Board, intuitive use of the Wii Remote, forgiving, casual gameplay, and fully fleshed out multiplayer features emphasize the simple gaming pleasures to be found on Nintendos console.
Road Trip is a highly accessible and enjoyable title for Wii owners. The premise of the game revolves around a tight knit group of snowboarders, which soon grows to incorporate new friends, hot on the tail of the wily Shaun White. This Road Trip will take players around the globe, from the Canadian Rockies to the Chilean Andes, and even all the way to the slopes of Japan. Players will choose both a rider and camera man, each with their own skills and stat bonuses. Along the way, players will best time, point, and collection goals of varying difficulty, accumulate mementos, and open up tickets to new events strewn across the varied mountains. As more friends become available, players will have to switch between the various crew members in order to utilize their unique abilities to more efficiently pass the challenges. Accumulating points in the Respect meter will allow you to activate each riders special skills. This career mode can be played as a single-player or can be gone through with a friend in some split-screen action.
Road Trip is fully compatible with the Wii Balance Board and utilizes a combination of the board and Wii Remote. The use of the Balance Board is both intuitive and responsive. Plus, it adds a significant amount of challenge. Not surprisingly, the Balance Board does a fine job of mimicking an actual snowboard; players will find a level of immersion by using this setup that is unmatched by any other previous game. Carving sharp turns in conjunction with the B button, hopping obstacles and launching off hits by pressing down on the board with your feet, and pulling off grabs, grinds, and flips with a combination of the A, B, and A+B buttons along with pressure sensitive inputs on the board is quite instinctive and an engaging experience overall. The only downside I found was that I experienced some neck strain and toe cramping after prolonged use. Also, there is a learning curve involved that may be challenging for non-boarders and truly casual gamers. Thats not a bad thing by any means, as more committed gamers will find this to be the setup of choice.
Graciously, for the uninitiated and couch potatoes, Ubisoft has also made an equally compelling scheme with a simpler, more streamlined single-Wii Remote approach (no Nunchuk). Players can sit back and relax while still enjoying the game via motion controls. The Wii Remote is held in one hand horizontally on a plane with the IR camera pointed toward the screen. Players carve turns by gently titling the remote left and right. Turns can be made tighter by depressing the B trigger. If you want to hold a tuck, simply hold down A. Performing Ollies is done by jerking the Wii Remote vertically. Once airborne, players will perform grabs and tricks by titling the remote and holding down the desired face button to modify and link combos. This setup is decidedly more user-friendly and I was impressed by just how much fun it actually is to use. Going into the review, I figured the Balance Board was going to be the only way to go. After playing it, I can safely say that both control setups are equally solid.
One thing players will notice right away is that this game has been severely Nerfed for children and casual gamers. Pulling off grinds, maintaining balance (even after hitting tress), and landing truly gnarly air combos is extremely easy. The game will compensate for sloppy execution by keeping your rider on their feet. Its not that you cant fall, its just that the game does all it can to keep you boarding. This has the effect of keeping pacing very high, but also limits the challenge factor. Thankfully, players are still rewarded with point bonuses and multipliers for landing perfectly and executing tricks proficiently. Whats more, every run you open will have a two-part goal system that rewards casual players with a Dare objective and challenges core players with a Respect objective. Conquering the Dare portion will tick the level as finished and earn you the right to advance to the next portion of the slope. If you best the Respect portion, you will earn a second check mark as well as mementos for your superior skills. That means both casual and core gamers alike will find a lot of fun in this title; the casual crowd wont get bogged down, and the core has a something to shoot for.