Intuitive and fun motion controls make Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip a healthy alternative to the real sport.
- Motion controls work really well
- Great use of the Wii Balance Board
- Pleasing, cartoony visuals
- Wiping out is appropriately painful
- Accessible and enjoyable multiplayer.
- Not enough variety in the objective types
- No character customization options.
Shaun White Snowboarding on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 offered an unfocused and often boring rendition of the popular winter sport. Featuring sprawling mountains that looked pretty but provided little in the way of content, the game spent more time forcing you to hunt for coins hidden across the expansive environments than letting you take part in actual snowboarding competitions. Thankfully, the Wii version is a completely different experience. The wide-open mountains have been replaced with well-constructed paths down chilly slopes, the inane quests for secret coins have been scrapped, and the emphasis has been placed on pulling off wicked jumps and crazy tricks. More importantly, the controls have been revamped and now take full advantage of not only the motion controls of the Wii Remote, but the Wii Balance Board as well. Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip is a satisfying re-creation of snowboarding, and though the lack of diversity limits the replay value, it's still fun to hit the slopes for a while.
The controls are the most impressive aspect of Shaun White Snowboarding. There are two different control options available: the Wii Remote all by its lonesome or the remote combined with the balance board. With just the remote, you'll tilt to turn your rider, flick up to jump, and twist the remote around to pull off some fancy moves once you're airborne. The motions are logical, and your movements are responsive, reacting to even a slight twist of your hand. Carving a path down an icy slope is satisfying, and pulling off gravity-defying tricks can be thrilling. You can hit buttons to control how fast you tear down the slopes or to adjust your move set while in the air, but everything else is motion controlled, which does a great job of sucking you into the experience. The balance board is a little trickier to get the hang of, but once you figure out how to lean into corners and adjust your weight to do flip tricks in the air, it becomes second nature. You'll only need the remote to adjust your move set for tricks; everything else is controlled by your feet. The controls in Shaun White are extremely rewarding, replicating the outdoor experience for people reluctant to put up with the unrelenting cold and ugly bruises the real sport entails.
The titular Road Trip has you flying all over the world in search of Shaun White, who seems to think it's funny to leave for a new country just after he asks you to join him. You'll control members of his eager posse, each with unique attributes. The difference between the riders is noticeable. If you select Jasmine, you can get ridiculous air off of jumps, but you're pretty slow and will have to line up your board nearly perfectly to land gracefully. Gordon is all about speed, and you'll notice his ineptitude in other areas when you're trying to pull off tricks. There are enough unlockable characters to cater to everyone's needs, but the lack of customization is disappointing. You can't upgrade your favorite rider with more attribute points, and you don't even have the ability to alter your riders' clothing. The lack of customizability hurts the personality of the game, making you play as a stereotypical snowboarder rather than your own creation.
You'll travel across five different countries in search of the elusive Shaun White. Each mountain resort has a few different slopes to tear down, along with some very creative halfpipe tracks. There are only three objective types, and the lack of variety is tiresome after a while, but at least you'll be focusing on crazy snowboarding antics the whole time. Scoring a lot of points is the most common goal. You'll sometimes have to deal with a time limit, but you'll usually be able to take your time, using the whole mountain to milk the points. A ticking combo meter urges you to continually pull off moves, which means you'll be grinding and doing little bunny hops between the big ramps. There are also racing events, which pit you against either the clock or other eager snowboarders. When going against other riders, you'll usually earn a new playable character for your group, with new attributes to take advantage of. The final objective in the game is to collect things. This is actually fun in the Wii version thanks to the more confined, accessible level design that stands in stark contrast to the sprawling mountains featured on other consoles. The collectibles are almost always located at the beginning of a ramp or along a grindable rail, so you'll be pulling off cool moves while you grab the prizes.
There are a number of multiplayer modes, both competitive and cooperative. In co-op, you'll take part in a campaign separate from your single-player progress. Here you'll ride down a mountain with a buddy, and your cumulative score determines if you take home a gold medal or retry with your tail between your legs. In multiplayer, you'll compete either in single events or in a cup to determine who the best virtual boarder is. You'll be able to play with up to three of your friends in both competitive and cooperative multiplayer. Though having the screen quartered limits your viewing area, the camera is able to give you a good look at your surroundings, so you'll be prepared for big jumps and be able to swerve away from trees well in advance. There isn't much diversity in the multiplayer events, though, so like the single-player experience, it will get old before long. Still, the controls are so intuitive and fun that it's easy to pick the game up for a few races.
The cartoony aesthetics are vivid and eye-catching. Though the tracks are rather confined, they are populated with a wide assortment of trees, ramps, and rails to make every slope look unique. The draw distance will give you a good view of your upcoming obstacles, so you'll have plenty of time to prepare what sorts of moves you want to pull off. The most satisfying aspect of the visuals is how the crashes are represented. These are some painful-looking wrecks. Riders will slam forcibly into the ground, tumble awkwardly, and then rise from their failure covered in snow. Shaun White is not the most technically impressive game, but smart artistic decisions have made it pleasing to the eye.
Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip nails the controls, taking full advantage of the unique opportunities offered by the Wii. While the objectives can't match the creative control scheme, movement is so enjoyable that you'll gladly replay the same goals over again just to tilt and twist your way back down the slopes. With a clean aesthetic and engaging multiplayer modes, this should satisfy those looking to hit the slopes from the safety of their own home.