Crazy teens with crazy weapons are hitting the crazy slopes once again. It's crazy.
The Snowboard Kids series started way back on the N64, where it made two appearances. Now the developers at Atlus are putting the finishing touches on the DS instalment, which is set to ship this fall.
Like its predecessors, this game is best described as a cutesy arcade racer where items and weapons are essential to winning. Basically, it's Mario Kart on snowboards. You compete against three other characters in a race to the finish line. Players can launch projectile weapons at opponents to hinder their advancement. So far we’ve seen ice cubes that have a freezing, immobilizing effect, as well as bombs that blow opponents sky high. You’ll be able to carry a maximum of two items at a time, which can be mapped to either the L or R button.
Apart from these power-ups, each of the eight playable characters has his or her unique special weapon ability to unleash. You need to power up your character first though, which is done by doing tricks. Fortunately the levels are packed with insane jumps, not unlike those found in SSX. Tricks also fill up your trick meter, which, when full, allows you to perform a super trick. Super tricks look totally over-the-top and obviously require a lot of hang time to pull off successfully.
As in the N64 versions, one of the cool features of the game is the lift at the bottom of every level. The lift marks the end of a lap, and it has players cramming together, since only one can enter at a time. This can really make or break the pole position in a race.
There’s also a customisation aspect to the game. Whenever you win a race, you earn money, which can be spent on board upgrades and various accessories that enhance your abilities.
Snowboard Kids also takes advantage of the special features of the DS – at least to some extent. The action takes place on the top screen, and a map is visible on the lower screen. The touch screen is used for tricks and turbo boosts but not actual handling. Microphone use and online play haven’t been announced, but the game will support wireless multiplayer for up to four players at a time. This is handled through the DS’s single cart wireless capabilities, so only one player needs to have the game.
All in all, Snowboard Kids for DS will likely please fans of its genre. It has a colorful, cartoony, slightly anime-inspired graphical style, a nice sense of speed, customization elements, and an abundance of crazy tricks and special attacks to perform.