If We Ski was a simple title for a simple game, its upcoming sequel We Ski & Snowboard follows that naming convention with admirable diligence. The core of the game will remain very much intact; the cutesy visuals, reliable control scheme, and diverse but straightforward challenges all make their return. But despite the relatively brief turnaround time--We Ski & Snowboard will be released in March, just 10 months after its predecessor--a handful of new additions ought to give fans of the original game several reasons to return to Namco Bandai's budding winter-sports franchise.
The big, title-worthy addition is your newfound ability to hit the slopes on a snowboard. Like with skiing in the original, you can control your snowboard either by using just the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, or by using both in combination with the Wii Balance Board. The primary function of the balance board is for steering. Leaning left or right will produce a similar effort from your onscreen character, but you can also crouch down and quickly stand up to make your boarder catch air, whether off of a jump or simply on flat land. With your hands, you'll waggle the remote and Nunchuk to push for speed, wave them in various gestures for midair tricks, and twist them to crouch during downhill races. It's a bare-bones system that relies only on button inputs for a few optional techniques such as hard turns and quick 180s.
Just as the number of available transportation methods has jumped from one to two, so has the number of mountains available to ski. The original We Ski kept you confined to Happy Ski Resort, a rigidly designed mountain influenced by traditional Japanese snow resorts. That meant that there wasn't a lot of room for exploration or shortcuts, but that's not the case now. The first of your two options in We Ski & Snowboard is Jamboree Snow Resort, a North American-style mountain with a good balance of open tracks, moguls, jumps, and trick obstacles such as grind rails. The tracks tend to be quite wide and open to creative route-taking if you so choose. And with plenty of chairlifts, you'll have no problem getting where you need to go
The other new mountain is even less restricting. Known as Mt. Angrio, this towering chunk of earth feels like a barely explored South American slope--maybe some remote peak in Chile whose name translates to "Great Hill of Death." But no matter the name or location, it couldn't be any more different from Happy Ski Resort. Giant cliff drops are the name of the game here, but you'll also find steep powder runs and the occasional crevasse to avoid falling into. It's an intimidating slope, to be sure, but the opportunity to go big and squeeze four or five different tricks into a single jump is an exciting one. Like with Jamboree Snow Resort, you can choose to ride Mt. Angrio either during the day or night. Making you feel even tougher than night riding, though, is the fact that you'll need to take a helicopter to get anywhere on this peak; there are no chairlifts.
So snowboards and the new mountains are easily the big new additions to We Ski & Snowboard. The rest of the game should feel comfortably familiar to fans of the original. You can hit the slopes at your own pace, taking on optional quests that you find along the way, such as food deliveries and spontaneous break-dancing photo ops. But you can also take part in proper events, such as slaloms, downhill races, and a halfpipe competition. As you complete more of these events, you'll unlock more gear for your custom rider. The number of available articles of clothing has been bumped up quite a bit, and they vary wildly from respectable skiing attire to however you'd describe a giant penguin costume.
If you want to marvel at your past accomplishments, you can hit up the instant-replay feature, which is available from the pause menu at all times. This tool saves your most recent exploits on the slope and lets you go back to watch them over again using an automated camera system that switches up the angles in cinematic style. You can also visit the main menu to go back to your old photos taken on the slopes and view them in slide-show format. In our experience, this was an interesting time capsule that detailed our custom rider's progression from the normal gear available at the beginning of the game to the more ridiculous attire you get later on, one photo at a time. Whether or not your skier becomes the same fashion disaster that ours did is something you can find out when We Ski & Snowboard is released in March.