Review: 1080° Snowboarding (N64)

Thrills and chills

1080° Snowboarding is a title that divided gamers when it was first released. Here was a game that mixed Nintendo's usual penchant for killer gameplay with a more serious subject matter than the company was used to dealing with. It got lazily compared to fellow N64 stable mate Wave Race and came out looking worse, because it was a much harder game to get to grips with and was more sober and unassuming.

It could be argued that 1080 was created in response to the flood of snowboarding games available at the time, but Nintendo wasn't just cashing in with this game – it totally blew away the likes of Cool Boarders on the Playstation and contained a stunningly realistic representation of snowboarding.

Unlike a lot of snowboarding games, whose half pipe modes are their only real thrill, the 1080's downhill races and time trials are great. The tracks are treacherous, and each is different from the last. Moguls, giant drops, and impossible curves are littered throughout. When time limits are imposed, it's not with occasional banners and 45-second bonuses, but through slalom flags, each of which doles out a two-second bonus. While initially this is frustrating, it does add tension to the trial, and it's a much better use of slalom flags than simply throwing you out for missing some predetermined and arbitrary number.

The visuals in 1080 are pretty special, and although they obviously don't look that hot by today's standards, at the time of publication they were undoubtedly cutting edge. The snowboarders themselves display a wonderful degree of animation and each turn and jump looks just as it should; compared to rival games it's a cut above and no mistake.

There are five modes to tinker with here. Championship is (as you might expect) the most important mode and is the one you'll be spending the most time with. Time Attack does what it says on the tin, as does 2P Versus. Trick mode is all about showing off on the slopes and Practice…well, I think it speaks for itself.

As you progress in the championship you unlock new difficulty levels and courses. This mode works well for a time, but it won't be long until you've zipped through and seen all the game has to offer. From this point on you have the (considerable) appeal of the two player mode to keep you entertained, but if you lack companionship then you're stuck with improving your times or pulling off tricks, both of which get dull quickly.

Conclusion

This is where 1080 falls down hardest. There just isn't enough content here, which is a crying shame as this is one of the best simulations of snowboarding ever produced. As it stands, it's still a worthwhile purchase and if you know you can get a friend involved then you'll spend countless hours racing each other through that magical powder, but if you're flying solo then you might want to consider something with a bit more meat on the bone.

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