Wii

North America

We Ski & Snowboard

by Zachary Miller - March 31, 2009, 9:05 pm PDT
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6

But we're not very excited about it.

We Ski & Snowboard is the sequel to Namco Bandai's earlier powder-filled outing, We Ski. While it looks pretty in spots and makes good use the of the Wii Balance Board, there isn't a whole lot of depth to be found. WS&S is basically a free-roaming trip to the slopes that lets you do whatever you want.

The game technically doesn't require the Wii BalanceBoard, but using the control stick just isn't the same. The Board imparts a feeling of immersion that I greatly appreciated (being quite the skiing aficionado myself). You still need to hold the Wii Remote and Nunchuck while on the board, using them as you would ski poles. Moving them up and down pushes you forward, while tilting them out puts you in a tucked position. Unfortunately, the button-pressing that's required for several moves (like stopping or mogul runs) breaks the immersion.

The Balance Board is great, though. Leaning makes you turn and tuck, and jumping is performed by quickly "bouncing" on the Board. When you're riding a snowboard, you turn the Board so that it's perpendicular to the TV, but otherwise the controls are the same. If you've played Wii Fit, you'll be familiar with how to use the Balance Board in WS&S. The mountain is full of trick areas, like loops and grind rails for both skiers and snowboarders, but tricks are performed by waggling the Remote and Nunchuck. But the game's greatest failure is that there's no real sense of speed; in real life, you're shooting down a slope with the wind in your face and it's over before you know it. In WS&S you never feel like you're zipping down the slope, even in tuck position. It takes forever to get from the top of the mountain to the bottom; not because the mountain is huge, but because you're going so darn slow.

The game is also too open-ended. Without a set goal, your motivation to continue steadily declines. Sure, you can run errands for people or go on race challenges, but the prizes for completing them are not really worth it (new gear to customize your avatar) or completely missing altogether. Otherwise, you just cruise around the mountain by yourself, pressing the Minus button to go to the map to select an area to warp to. Then you just ski…forever…down the slope to the resort. I suppose it's interesting to explore the different nooks and crannies, and competing in some of the challenges is fun (slalom, baby!), but overall there's not a lot here. Different sections of the mountain aren't unlocked as you progress, since they're available from the start; you don't learn different maneuvers over time, since you can ski like a pro from the get-go. While this makes the game very accessible, it also erodes any incentive to keep playing.

Graphical quality varies, but is unimpressive overall. Trees are particularly horrible; they're "slot trees," whereby a bird's-eye view would reveal a forest full of plus signs. Your skis (and snowboards) leave a trail behind you, which is kind of cool, and the rock formations are interesting but poorly textured. The matte painting backgrounds are the nicest-looking touch in the game. These problems are minimized if you choose to ski at night, when illumination is provided by light poles. The encroaching darkness covers up many of the game's graphical failures, and your eyes will often be drawn to the fireworks going on at the resort below. WS&S lets you use your Miis, but they look out of place with Namco Bandai's more anime-inspired avatars.

There's an option for local multiplayer with up to four players (three if one is using the Balance Board), but for each person you add the framerate drops accordingly. Split-screen gameplay is further diminished by the fact that it's not always obvious where you're going. Online multiplayer would have been preferable so that you could have the whole screen to yourself.

In the end, We Ski & Snowboard reminds me how much more awesome real skiing is. It's fun at first, but with a lack of challenge, mediocre graphics, and no real sense of speed, it gets old quickly.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 5 7 5 5 6
Graphics
6

WS&S is pretty "blah" from a graphical standpoint. The trees look terrible, and scenery textures are generally poor.

Sound
5

There's virtually no music except during course selection, and sometimes AI-controlled skiers and snowboarders will shout things. But otherwise all you can hear is the swish of your skis (or snowboard).

Control
7

The Wii Balance Board is used to great effect, but pressing buttons really takes you out of the experience.

Gameplay
5

There's just not a lot here. You can race people, complete various challenges, and…get your picture taken. None of these activities feel worthwhile because there usually aren't any rewards for completing them.

Lastability
5

You can replay challenges whenever you want to get a better time or improve your technique, but it's really tough to stay motivated.

Final
6

The low production values and lack of drive keep We Ski & Snowboard grounded. Wii Fit makes much better use of the Balance Board, and the sense of speed in its ski jump game is much more satisfying.

Summary

Pros
  • Excellent use of the Balance Board
  • Local multiplayer
  • You can do anything and go anywhere right off the bat
Cons
  • Everything is open from the start, giving you little incentive to keep playing after you've seen all the slopes
  • Graphics are sub-par
  • Having to press buttons for certain moves breaks the immersion
  • Split-screen means slowdown
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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We Ski & Snowboard Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Namco Bandai

Worldwide Releases

na: We Ski & Snowboard
Release Mar 03, 2009
PublisherNamco Bandai
RatingEveryone

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