Back in May 2008, Namco Bandai released the first third-party game to incorporate Nintendo’s Wii Balance Board. Though the game was a huge hit for Namco Bandai when it came to sales, it was received rather poorly by many game critics. Many cited the game as being too simple and the lack of any real challenge made it feel like a chore.
Hoping to ride the wave of success that We Ski did in terms of sales, Namco Bandai has released a follow-up to the original, appropriately titled We Ski & Snowboard. This time around, gamers can hit the slopes with ski poles or a snowboard and perform some new tricks. Besides that though, We Ski & Snowboard is basically the same game as its predecessor.
In a nutshell, We Ski & Snowboard allows players to fully explore a beautiful and breath-taking open world ski resort that Namco Bandai has created. By putting on your snowboard or skis, players can pull off tricks by performing certain gestures with the Wii Remote or just do a speed run down the slope.
However, there’s a slight little problem with the game. You see, We Ski & Snowboard is focused solely on taking everything one step at a time and doing things at your pace. The game offers little to no challenge, thus promoting the emphasis it puts on introducing casual gamers to the Wii Balance Board. The only real challenge of the game is to try and unlock all the articles of clothing for your character. Besides that, there’s nothing there to keep the player coming back for more.
If you’ve played We Ski, you should already know exactly what I’m talking about. At first, the game appears to be quite fun, skiing down the mountain attempting to execute tricks and keep your balance. After a couple of runs down the hill, the gameplay starts to lose its shine. With little to no objectives on the slope, it all ends up feeling more like a chore than entertainment.
What the game lacks in depth though it makes up for in polish. One example of this would be the interface. Menus are presented in a slick and stylish way, unlike many other games these days. Besides this, the menus are also quite easy to navigate, which is definitely a huge plus for casual gamers that are unquestionably the target audience here.
Another fine example of where the amount of polish is quite evident is in the landscapes. From a graphical perspective, We Ski & Snowboard is a beautiful sight. Each slope looks different from the last and the amount of small little details on the side of the screen is incredible. When going down a slope, seeing a cottage or skiers pass by you is a sight to behold.
Like the original, We Ski can be played in either the day or night. Though both are equally impressive, playing during the night is absolutely stunning. The lighting is simply incredible and a sight to behold. The entire area illuminates itself creating one of the most beautiful landscapes on Wii.
For gamers who have friends that want to join in on all the fun, We Ski & Snowboard offers a split screen mode in which up to four players can ski or snowboard down the slope. Unfortunately though, the entire experience is crippled by the open world feel of the ski resort. Everyone is skiing or snowboarding around wherever they want to and it sort of makes the multiplayer mode pointless. If somebody engages in a conversation, the entire game is interrupted for everyone. Above all, the frame rate suffers a great deal when there are two or more players.
This brings us to the one aspect that could’ve broken We Ski & Snowboard if done wrong; the controls. By using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as ski poles, players swing them downwards in a pushing motion to get going. Once you’ve gained speed, you can twist the Wii Remote and Nunchuk away from each other to allow your avatar to get into a crouching position. While in this position, your character will gain speed, but at the same time, turning becomes a lot harder.
Wii Balance Board controls also work well. By using this control scheme, players can steer with their character with their feet and performing a little bounce will cause your character to jump. The Wii Balance Board controls are very responsive and work very well. Out of the two control schemes, the Balance Board works a lot better and feels more natural.
Though the lack of depth severely hurts the game, We Ski & Snowboard is a solid sequel to its predecessor. Though much of the game remains unchanged, the addition of snowboards is nice. If you were a fan of the original, you’ll love We Ski & Snowboard. If not, you’re better off investing in another snowboarding game, such as SSX Blur.