Forget SSX, Indie Skiers Are Carving the Freshest Mountain Lines
Skiing and snowboarding, like biking, are not quickly forgotten. But while I’m pretty confident I’ll still be able to hit the slopes effortlessly after a decade of cross-country skiing, it doesn’t look like I’ll be testing it out anytime soon. Or forever, if climate change has its way.
Time is, I’ll turn to video games to tackle my snow sports. People my age fondly remember SSX games on the PS2, though – I’m an Xbox-owned kid – it’s the slightly more down-to-earth (if also arcade) Amped game that I hyped up to tear up the snow. But lately, it feels like the video game ramp is a little emptier than it used to be.
Oh sure, Ubisoft has tried games like Rider’s Republic and Steep, but they’re busy trying to be Five different extreme sports (opens in new tab) they are a bit forget fun (opens in new tab)However, Ubisoft isn’t alone in wanting to go skiing, however, I’ve been riding with two very different skiers who aim to capture two very different parts of the snow smashing experience.
The first of these, Shredder (opens in new tab)hopefully contributing to snowboarding in the same way that games like Session and Skater XL have done for skateboarding – a simulation sport where you really feel like you’re in control of a piece of wood.
It also works well when you’re just making a trail up the mountainside. Shredders really capture the feel of gliding and sliding down the pistes, building and controlling momentum with turns. Unlike skateboarding, snow sports are very focused on the fun of exploring and traversing the slopes, and the challenge comes from surviving on steeper slopes and icier conditions.
But just like Session and SkaterXL, Shredders also want to be able to pull off some bad tricks, and that’s where the comparison is less beneficial. Snowboarding is inherently a much bulkier sport – a longer board means you spin more slowly, and it’s strapped to your feet, eliminating the more flashy flips that can occur on dry ground . The controls for jumping, spinning, and backflips also feel a little imprecise.
Yes I can’t do a backflip in real life may be accurate and a video game. But I can’t kickflip either, and at least Session gave me that bone. Still, even if it’s unskilled, Shredders’ expansive mountains are a joy — assuming you can live with its “hello kids” way of writing.
Ski resorts, when they are good, are a network of cross paths and hidden routes, and although it’s been over a decade since my last visit, I have an intensely good feeling about discovering and unraveling their full extent Memories (and not-so-good ones getting lost on the wrong side of Mount Finland).
this is the foundation Big Mountain Adventure: Wonderland (opens in new tab), a game that replicates the feel of a weekend ski trip rather than simulating snow sports. With your choice of skis or snowboards, you can do a simple run on a beginner’s track, slowly unlocking more routes and challenges connected by a network of cable cars and gondolas.
The best part? Riding these lifts takes time, and while you can pick up the pace, it brings a sense of scale and rhythm to the run. Just like real skiing, you shoot down the slopes, then recover and plan your next route on the way back.
Using tricks and carving lines is trivial compared to a shredder, but that’s not the point. The Grand Mountain Adventure is a fun snow sports toy, a tilt-and-shift diorama shot from a bird’s-eye view, making it feel more like a toy. My only real complaint is the way the camera rotation is locked to the character – the whole screen wobbles wildly with every turn is kind of disgusting to say the least.
Snow sports may not A game renaissance like skateboarding (opens in new tab), but these two games largely echo what I love about those street surfers. Big budget snowsport needs to be massive, maxed out affairs – and that used to bring us high-energy, round-the-world jumps like SSX, an approach that has inflated and diluted the genre to As far as they need to include wingsuits and mountain bikes to justify their size. By contrast, these smaller projects can hone in on why we like to throw ourselves down frozen hillsides.
Real-world snow sports are very expensive, and as the world heats up, it’s dwindling. But from the fun of forging downhill trails to exploring frozen peaks at high speed, these games can keep us back on the slopes even on the hottest summer days.