Posted by Thomas Whitehead
A slippery slope downwards…
If there is one thing missing from the video game world, it’s a snowboarding game starring goblins and dragons, and Enjoy Gaming is aiming to fill the void with Trollboarder. It’s been marketed as the ‘craziest snowboard game in history’, but is this zany fun or an experience that will drive you mad?
The premise lives up to the marketing promise: there are no dudes in ski hats here, just a cast of trolls and goblins hitting the slopes. When you load the game you’re given a story about dragon’s treasure being stolen by some mischievous goblins, and you’re the hero who must get it back. Goblins aren’t the shiniest coins in the treasure chest, as they’ve left their loot conveniently scattered around a variety of slopes rather than doing anything useful with it. It’s bonkers, but this is a video game after all, so it ultimately doesn’t matter. The story is, however, the perfect precedent for the madness that will ensue.
Firstly, there is just one game mode on offer, which is the single player quest to snowboard down a variety of courses completing objectives and retrieving treasures. The game is split into three chapters, with each one asking you to complete a number of challenges to find the required amount of gold. The strange system means that you can choose from a few challenge options, such as retrieve 50 coins or knock over a number of goblins on the slopes, and each option rewards you with the same number of coins. You will need to complete a lot of trials to beat each chapter and they soon start to repeat themselves. In the 20 challenges required to finish chapter two, we played some objectives and courses multiple times. It’s false padding to lengthen the game, and it gets boring very quickly.
Those familiar with classics such as 1080 Snowboarding will be at home with the basic controls. Use the D-Pad to steer left and right, pushing Up to increase speed and Down to do the opposite. Pressing B will make your character jump, with the other face and shoulder buttons performing a variety of tricks while in the air. In principle the controls seem fine, but once you start your first descent it's obvious there are problems.
The fact is your character controls like a big lump of a Troll, with all the elegance of a sleepy elephant. One could claim this is an authentic simulation of a snowboarding troll, but that doesn’t make it any more fun. The steering with the D-Pad is jerky and awkward, so although you can make your way down the slope, it’s a constant battle to maintain any control.
One of the reasons it’s so difficult is the camera, which is positioned very close behind your character. This troll is a sizeable snowboarder as it is, yet the viewpoint is such that you can’t see far enough ahead to decide on a route. This is particularly annoying when you’re collecting coins and a lot of them are close together: you can’t see what path you need to take to keep in line with the coins, or to do much else for that matter. Obstacles such as rocks and trees will appear out of nowhere and there isn’t much you can do about it apart from watch your troll fall over, or do some strange glitching animations.
Which brings us neatly to the graphics, which are harmed repeatedly by the good old fashioned glitch gremlins. These aren’t mentioned in the story as co-conspirators in the theft of dragon treasure, but they play their part. As well as glitch animations, there are below par draw distances and plenty of occasions when your troll will go through invisible walls, or most annoyingly hit an invisible ceiling that makes him grind to a shuddering halt. As part of the game's point is big jumps and tricks, the fact that the biggest jumps often trigger a glitch is irritating, to put it mildly.
Sound design is also a weak area. If you beat the game, which will test your sanity, you will hear the same two loops of music over and over again. The first tune is non-descript and seems totally out of place in this genre, while the second piece is heavy rock prompted by the ‘dragon’s favour’ mode that you can activate by completing plenty of tricks; both are generic and uninteresting. There are also a few sounds of goblin-like voices, which are as strange as the concept of the game as a whole.
Snowboarding trolls and goblins hasn’t, to our recollection, been done before. We could forgive the goofy premise if it wasn’t for the appalling gameplay, silly camera angle, tedious repetition and the excessive number of glitches. It would be more fun to snowboard down Everest while dressed in an oversized troll outfit than play this game. There are too many problems, so this title is destined to snowboard down Mount Doom for eternity.