Author Topic: Xtreme Sports (Switch eShop) Review  (Read 392 times)

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Offline Halbred

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Xtreme Sports (Switch eShop) Review
« on: June 04, 2024, 06:17:45 PM »

My skills have eroded.

Xtreme Sports is an now-ancient WayForward title released in June of 2000 for the Game Boy Color. It tasks you with exploring Xtreme Sports Island, upon which is found an extreme sports tournament hosted by the Xtreme Cola Company, and taking part in various extreme sports while unraveling a mystery involving the Bone-Head Gang, who got lost on the way to the Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire auditions.

Xtreme Sports includes five sports of varying extremity:

Street Luge - This overhead, downward-scrolling obstacle course is the most basic and easiest sport to play. Your job is to find ramps to jump off, go through colored point gates, and avoid barrels.

Surfing - In Xtreme Sports’ clearest homage to California Games, you simply move up and down along a wave, collecting stars. You can shoot yourself over the wave to attempt a spin trick, but you have to land correctly.

In-Line Skating - The first of two side scrolling games, In-Line Skating is easier than Skateboarding. You can grind on rails, perform spins while moving forward, and crouch beneath point gates, but your main goal will be finding flags by using a double-jump special move. It quickly becomes important to memorize the course layouts.

Skateboarding - The main goal is to get half-pipe air and perform spins while suspended, or pull off handplants at the lip of the half-pipe. There’s a trick to gaining momentum on half-pipes that took me a little while to figure out. You can perform kick-flips and rail-grinds in areas between half-pipes.

Sky boarding - This game has an interesting hook: collect arrow icons, then hold B and input the directions to pull off a mid-air trick. You’ll have to time your tricks to happen between aerial obstacles, which can be difficult, although you can move left to right while not performing a trick and you’ll smash through obstacles while actively tricking. You’ll then have to try and get as close to the center of the landing target as you can once your parachute deploys.

Xtreme Sports is difficult largely because it comes from a bygone era in which the player was supposed to memorize things, and then use that information to find the fastest, safest, or high score-iest route through any given course. You progress in this game by wandering Xtreme Sports Island and challenging bystanders, who will demand you beat their time, score, flag collection rate, or all three in a given sport. If you beat them, you take their medal(s) and they sit down, defeated. You must to collect a set number of medals to access new parts of the island.

Unfortunately, that means you’re completely at the mercy of the challenges within any given area. The very first accessible zone includes a series of In-Line Skating challenges, and during these trials you will, whether you want to or not, memorize the entire course layout. Even now, I can picture a perfect run in my Mind Palace; this is knowledge gained through hardship and sacrifice. The next area features a series of sky boarding challenges, and I quickly learned that if you hit an obstacle between trick maneuvers, your combo is broken and achieving combos is unfortunately required to beat these challenges. Thus, you must activate Twitchy Shakes in between combos so that you can bash through omnipresent birds between combo attempts.

I proceeded to bang my head against the wall for an hour before putting the controller down. This is not a game I can play for an extended period of time before frustration gives way to resigned defeat. If I had owned Xtreme Sports in the year 2000, I have no doubt that my younger, more malleable brain would have soaked up the course layouts like an eager sponge, but in 2024, as an old man closer to death than birth, my inelastic neurons ain’t got time for that.

At least the game is pretty! It will not surprise you to learn that Xtreme Sports’ aesthetic is a precursor to WayForward’s 2002 sleeper hit Shantae. You can play as one of two characters in this title:  Fin and his twin-tailed, bikini-clad girlfriend, Guppi. I’m honestly surprised that neither of these characters have appeared in a Shantae game as NPCs. At any rate, Xtreme Sports Island is colorful and surprisingly large, assuming you have the skill to unlock its many sections, and the various rival characters dotting the island are all unique and surprisingly charming. The music is catchy, but not as memorable as I was hoping.

This Switch version includes concept art to flip through, which I always appreciate, and you can create save states (handy during tougher challenges). Unfortunately, the display options are wanting–there’s only one filter (LCD) and the selectable borders are weirdly unimaginative: three are Limited Run art, one is a Game Boy Color bezel, and one is…an arcade cabinet? Maybe it’s trying to be a GBA SP bezel. I would have preferred key art from the Xtreme Sports over different flavors of the LR logo but what can you do.

Xtreme Sports is an interesting curio, an artistic ancestor of WayForward’s heroic half-genie franchise, and a somewhat frustrating Game Boy Color game that may not be all that fun to play in the Year of our Arceus 2024. It also, and this may be a deep cut for many of you, reminds me of the Survivor parody Total Drama Island, which often involved some degree of extreme sports challenges.

This would be my PSN Trophy Card, but I guess I can't post HTML in my Signature. I'm the pixel spaceship, and I have nine Gold trophies.