Massive Snowboarding is the greatest "extreme" sports title ever made for a mobile phone. Since the extreme genre is--even in the console and PC world--frequently the subject of scorn and ridicule, this is admittedly not the proudest of boasts. To say that Massive Snowboarding is one of Gameloft's finest achievements might therefore carry more weight. This twitch-based boarding game moves with such fast-paced fluidity, you'll swear you're playing Coolboarders again.
In Massive Snowboarding, you select one of five Franco-manga-style boarders and head out to carve eight long and tightly designed courses. Each slope presents you with three tasks, the completion of which wins you stat points and new areas to grind.
First, you'll have to meet or beat the goals set forth in the ride challenge. These involve attaining a requisite number of points and performing specific tricks. Mercifully, you don't have to nail everything in a single run. Once you've checked an item off your list, that accomplishment is yours to keep. The ride challenges are where you'll spend most of your time and energy, so it's a good thing they're generally entertaining and constructive. You'll learn your tricks in these increasingly difficult trials.
Next, you'll have to race a rival from the top of the mountain back to the lodge. This is probably the least compelling part of this trick-centric game, because the best strategy is usually just to head straight for the finish line. Most tracks give you several paths from which to choose. Obviously, you'll want to avoid areas riddled with obstacles. The problem with racing stems from a control issue. It's too bad the developer didn't see fit to create incentives for players to perform tricks, even while racing. Holding down the crouch button and steering for a couple of minutes makes for a pretty monotonous race.
Finally, you'll have to let the press film you shredding sky. You'll start these challenges just before a jump, conveniently located in a press area. Your goal is to perform a combination of grabs and spins on that designated ramp, so as to earn a minimum point total. The twist is that you'll view your jump from the perspective of the cameramen. On certain video shoots, your point of view will shift a couple of times between cameras. This is as challenging as it is visually stunning.
In every aspect of its presentation, Massive Snowboarding represents the state of the industry. The characters are detailed and highly stylized, from the voluptuous Anne to the squirrelly Eugene. These models look great while polishing off tricks with aplomb and even better when rag-dolling out of control. To clarify, while real rag-doll physics aren't yet a technical possibility, the developer has done a great job of faking it. A wipeout rarely looks contrived, and it always leaves cool trails in the snow. With its lens flare, fast frame rate, and general visual panache, Massive Snowboarding is as graphically impressive on the LG VX8000 as 1080 Snowboarding was on the N64.
The game's sound is nearly as robust. A poppy Sum 41 song plays over the splash screen and opening menus. In-game, you'll hear your board scraping against densely packed powder. The audio is periodically interrupted during load times, but this isn't too distracting.
While Massive Snowboarding will have you slamming at the controls with both hands, you don't have to be preternaturally gifted to pull off some amazing tricks. The 5 key sets you up for a jump, executes it, and initiates midair grabs. The directional pad handles the rest. This control scheme can be limiting at first. Once you get the hang of it, though, you'll be stringing together eight or nine tricks (grinds, spins, and grabs) in the same sequence.
With five characters and eight courses, there's just a wealth of content in Massive Snowboarding. Each slope takes a couple of minutes to ride through but a great many runs to really master. You'll find that each area's ride challenge is designed to barely be possible on that course. You'll have to be resourceful if you hope to complete every goal, which isn't necessarily a requirement for advancement.
Massive Snowboarding is one of the few V Cast games whose technology does not hamper its gameplay but rather bolsters it. Gameloft has struck a balance between the speedy and the spectacular, and the result is an excellent and highly addictive sports title.