The SSX series, with its smooth and fun snowboarding mechanics has seen a handful of variations and improvements over the many years. This latest addition, SSX On Tour continues to tweak various aspects, but generally plays the same as the previous versions. One of the obvious new additions to On Tour is that you can ditch your snowboard for a pair of skis. And while it may seem at first that the gameplay may be different, the change is merely aesthetic. Similarly, the raw hip-hop/rock-focused, pencil-on-notebook-paper doodling presentation style infects every pore of the game and does a great job of making the game look different – even though it isn’t.
You can now create your own alter ego, dressing him up as you please, although the options are not the in-depth customisation that we are used to in other EA titles. The main idea is to enter into challenge after challenge to win and become the hip-hop/rock star the new art-style would have you believe you are. With the money you earn, you can purchase your standard fare of clothes, equipment and trick upgrades as well. Control wise, the new “Monster Tricks” are the big-air focal point, but are much easier to pull off and much less rewarding. When it’s ready to be unleashed, just a simple movement of the right analog stick starts the convulsing animations with much less glory than you’re used to, especially since it’s much easier to pull off. While the trick system has been tweaked, “new” modes have been added and on-mountain icons have changed, the basic fundamental rules still apply. You still have to out-trick your opponents. You still have to race faster than your opponents. You still have to score more points to move up the ladder.
The graphics remain pretty solid. The character models look virtually the same and the pothead, doodle-infused presentation works really well with the game. Add some musical variety from Jurassic 5 to Iron Maiden and SSX is a visual and sonic treat. And for those Gamecube owners - Mario and some other familiar characters will be available as bonus extras.