We Ski appears speedily from over the cliff face just as Nintendo release Wii Fit with the now infamous Balance Board, which can, and should, be used whilst playing We Ski.
At first glance We Ski might sound like just another skiing game with bolted on Balance Board controls, this wouldn't be a fair assessment of a somewhat refreshing take on a arguably tired genre.
Namco's approach in We Ski is about taking you inside a large, interconnected, living and breathing ski resort. Instead of being forced into races or events We Ski offers an open, social, skiing experience.
It's up to you to choose where to go and what to do, after setting up your Mii in some fancy ski attire your planted at the bottom of the mountain you get the choice of ski lifts, each of which take you up to different parts of the mountain. The entire resort has about 14 different routes, each named after an animal, that are all interconnect and come together at various different points.
For example, if you wanted you can ride ski lifts all the way to the top of the mountain and then ski all the way down to the bottom, taking a different route every time.
Because this is a active ski resort there are countless numbers of other guests speeding their way around the pistes, crashing into them is only a matter of time!
But that's not the only use of the other guests, anyone you find with a speech bubble floating above their head can be talked to. Different types of people provide different levels of interaction, ranging from strange people wanting to take your photo all the way to hardcore skiers who challenge you to a race.
Those who have played Wii Fit should already be aware of the basic controls, thanks to the skiing mini game included in that title. The game can be played without the balance board, but we prefer to think that anyone bothering to buy this game will have one.
The basics are simple, yet tricky to master. Standing on the balance board, holding your Wiimote & Nunchuk like ski poles, your ready to ski. Dragging your “poles” forward then back set you moving down the piste, shifting your weight left and right will making your skier turn.
The balance board works surprisingly well and cleared well suited to skiing/snowboarding games where balance is a key factor. Whilst originally sniggered at by gaming journos, We Ski is yet more proof that Nintendo aren't going crazy and are in fact driving video game controls in a very positive and innovative direction.
Once on the move you have a few extra types of control available, including wedelning (holding down B & Z) which allows you to turn much sharper and quicker and crouching which involves tucking in your ski poles allowing you to ski much faster and with better balanced.
Of course, We Ski wouldn't be an “extreme sports” game without tricks, which are present but can only be performed on certain jumps. Tricks are executed by making a few different, simple Wiimote/Nunchuk gestures made whilst your character is in the air.
During the game you'll encounter a number of different types of events, such as straight racing, slalom, moguls and numerous extra time/score based challenges, all of which earn you bonus experience points on completion.
There are also a number of additional activities in We Ski, people taking your photograph, treasure hunts and even some “off piste” hidden ski routes set to test your skills to the limit. The name of the game here is earning those RPG like experience points. What do points mean? Prizes of course! With your lovely points your able to unlock new outfits and ski equipment from the shop allowing you to dress up your Mii in some ridiculous winter outfits.
For those that want to get straight into the action, you can access all of the standard events from the main menu, this includes 20 races, 20 slalom events and 5 moguls events.
The game also features a comprehensive Ski School area which teaches you all the different types of controls and aerial tricks. It is our advise that you go through all of these before going solo on the mountain trail, it'll save a lot of confusion.
We Ski isn't graphically amazing, its just about adequate as it uses the no frills Mii/MySims style of graphics. The overall presentation is solid with good, well structured menus throughout. The insanely cheery music is somewhat cheesy but suits the style of the game. Namco show us some retro love by including a few speciality music tracks including classics from the almighty original Ridge Racer.
Overall We Ski is a pretty neat little package with good controls and use of the balance board, solid presentation and an interesting fresh approach to the genre. It's downfall is the slight lack of depth in gameplay modes, which soon feel repetitive. Anyone who's already bought the balance board should certainly give this one a try, especially those that enjoyed the ski sections of Wii Fit.