Boarder Zone is fun and entertaining, but only as a diversion. The single-player game lacks too many of the options and features you expect to see in a snowboarding game. Boarder Zone has many good qualities, but you'll find yourself going through all the game has to offer too quickly. It's more enjoyable as an arcade game to play with your friends, since the single-player mode is too dull otherwise. Boarder Zone's best features are its detailed graphics and its fluid 3D engine. When you go down a slope, your board leaves an imprint in the snow according to the powder level. When you turn, the board sprays snow as it cuts into the slope. When you fall, your hands and body leave print trails. There is also a nice replay option, and the chase camera always finds the best angles at which to follow your maneuvers. The lighting is realistic and provides atmosphere and a good sense of movement.
With the exception of handplants, Boarder Zone lets you perform all widely known snowboarding maneuvers. Boarder Zone has no tutorial, but the game uses such a simple interface that performing advanced tricks like the 720 rotation, the roast beef, the melanchollie, or the stalefish is easy. You also get to choose from four brand-name boards, each designed to accommodate different types of snowboarding.
Boarder Zone features four types of competitions: race, time, big air, and pipe. Once you've made your selection, you choose from four types of weather and three types of courses: village, alpine, or forest. You can also choose to compete in a championship or exhibition, but unfortunately you're limited to the same courses in each. Nevertheless, the slopes are well designed and have many jumps and great scenery. Not only can you speed past the rocks, trees, and canyons that you'd expect, but you can also go through villages on ice-covered streets, weave between lampposts, and jump over parked cars and construction equipment. In addition, you can go off-course and take shortcuts by jumping over gorges or large rock formations.
However, Boarder Zone fails to offer enough of these enjoyable courses. Because a typical run takes only a couple of minutes, you'll play through all of them quickly. Jumping over trailers and fences is fun, but the game fails to take this feature to the next level. For example, Boarder Zone could have had an all-out freestyle track in the style of the X-Games, complete with tables, ramps, garbage cans, and rails. It also missed the opportunity to include Olympic or famous resort tracks, such as those in Nagano or Vail.
Boarder Zone's music and sound effects are similarly well done but underdeveloped. The punk slasher music is appropriate, but there are only three short songs. Boarder Zone also lacks crowd noises and audience movement; not having cheers or applause dampens the excitement. Furthermore, the game's commentator isn't talkative, observant, or dynamic enough to create much excitement. He won't identify the trick you are going for, where you make your mistake, what it will cost you in terms of points, or what trick you must do next to stay in the competition. He only identifies your maneuvers and expresses disappointment when you fail.
Instead of professional snowboarders, Boarder Zone offers six predesigned characters to choose from, and more fan-made skins and boards are available through the Boarder Zone web site. These extras are a nice addition, but Boarder Zone fails to follow through on this feature, since the actual personalities aren't manifested in the game. Characters don't interact with each other during or after competitions, nor do they ever shout taunts or catchphrases when they win or successfully execute a difficult trick.
Boarder Zone fails to hold much value. Though it may seem exciting at first, its lack of courses, sound effects, commentary, and personalities wear that excitement thin after just a few hours. Boarder Zone shows promise, but if you plan to buy it, you'd do well to wait a few weeks until the price has come down.