Well, you can't really call them kids if they're past the age of eleven.
When I heard that Snowboard Kids was coming to Nintendo DS, I was very excited. I played the original to death on the Nintendo 64, and unlocked absolutely everything. The game boasted that it was "a game without brakes". It was a little wackier than Mario Kart, as it featured squat little kids snowboarding down mountainsides and using weapons that turned you into snowmen or made frying pans fall out of the sky and squash you flat. In short, it was my kind of game.
So it's just a little bit depressing that my favourite character, the tubby Tommy who was eating hamburgers all the time, grew up to become a bullying jerk.
The new Snowboard Kids game features a totally revamped artistic style. Instead of the cute little midget children previously seen, we now have a set of anime-style 16 to 18 year olds who look like what marketing would call "edgy", or perhaps "extreme". The lighthearted feel is gone, and replaced with a no-holds-barred, I'm-better-than-everyone vibe from these teenagers who all seem to be out to prove that they're number one.
However, this is merely an artistic style. As much as I'd like to tell you that I dislike it, this new direction is simply not for me. It's for the target audience of kids aged 14 to 18. Besides, if the game itself is good, then the art becomes less of a problem. But the game, while not perfect, is merely average.
Snowboard Kids plays somewhat like the Mario Kart series. However, instead of racing laps of a track, you must make your way down a mountain and enter a narrow doorway at the end of each lap to take the helicopter back to the top. Players can also perform tricks which increase the special trick meter, as well as earn projectile shots which can be used to attack opponents. There are also weapon boxes that can be grabbed to score alternate weapons such as invisibility, mines, and turbo boosts. The game also features multiple modes of play, as follows:
Amusement Rating: Moderately Xtreme
A combination of regular races, slalom events, and boss battles. Comes in three cups of quickly increasing difficulty.
Amusement Rating: Barely Xtreme At All
You can race! Against the clock! It's like travelling through time, except not like that in any way at all.
Amusement Rating: Moderately Xtreme
Destroy the boss before he gets to the finish line (or you can try to beat him). There are no powerups to help, so you need to perform tricks to earn projectiles here.
Amusement Rating: Delightfully Xtreme
Easily better than the slopes of Mount Nasty. Perform tricks and collect diamonds to increase your score while navigating through the hoops to extend your time.
And yet, in the transition from C-Buttons to touch screen, the control has become more difficult. If you hit a wall or something similar that causes you to come to a grinding halt, you must rapidly tap the screen to gain momentum. Which is, quite frankly, stupid. You must reach over from the face buttons with your thumb and hammer the touch screen until your character moves, which is decidedly awkward, and could have instead been done with another button. Pulling off 'special' tricks requires you to clumsily thumb at certain parts of the screen while you're attempting to steer through the air.
Sound is another area where Snowboard Kids is fairly average. The music is not assigned to any particular level - instead, you get a random music track when you start a race. This track will change if you decide to restart, or retry after failing, which causes the levels to lose a sense of individuality that they get when they have specific music assigned to them. One level could quite as easily be another.
And then there are the voices. Along with the art style, the 'kids' are frequently shouting out irritating quips, such as "I totally meant to do that. NOT!", "Hahaha, it's called talent!" and the just plain wrong: "You like to watch, don't you?". (Although, the Princess Bride reference is pretty cool.) Turning down the voice volume makes the game much more bearable.
Snowboard Kids is a decent title. While the new character look may not appeal to everyone, the game itself is okay. There are some issues with using the touch screen for in-game tricks and acceleration, but aside from that, it's a fairly average kart-like racing game. Snowboard Kids would probably best suit those looking for an alternative to Mario Kart or a wackier approach to extreme sport games.