Forum > Gaming Discussion > We Ski and Snowboard: Screw Wii Fit, if there is one reason to own a balance board, this is it (56k)
We Ski and Snowboard: Screw Wii Fit, if there is one reason to own a balance board, this is it (56k)
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Thu, 26 Feb 2009 14:29:09

bugsonglass said:

robio said:
This looks really good.  Surprisingly good in fact.  March is already an insane month as far as what games to buy (there's already like half a dozen games coming out that I want), and now it looks like I have to add this to the list.  Looks like something my family would get a kick out of and I'd probably enjoy it myself.  This may be what I need to balance out MadWorld.

This is what you need to balance out MadWorld Nyaa

I bet that will mix well with the official drink of MadWorld

Handgun Tequila!

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Thu, 26 Feb 2009 14:55:24

Eurogamer-review

Some old philosopher once described life in a lawless society as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short". That's how I feel about snowboarding. Or rather the one time I went snowboarding. And you can add "cold", "expensive" and "rubbish", by the way.

So hooray for Family Ski and Snowboard, which eliminates many of the unpleasant things about real-life winter sports. It won't cost you an arm or a leg, in either sense. The risk of serious injury from flailing your arms about while standing on a set of glorified bathroom scales is low, and at GBP 34.99 it's cheaper than going to Austria.

You don't have to leave your nice warm lounge. You don't have to wear a padded shell suit. You can talk to your friends whilst playing, even if they're better at it than you, instead of watching them whizz off down the mountain like adrenaline-crazed Eskimos leaving Grandma to die in the snow.

But does this sequel improve on its predecessor, Family Ski? (Or, as I pointed out it should be properly titled, Communal Crotch Flaying.) Seeing as Family Ski and Snowboard is basically the same game with one obvious difference, you could call it Communal Crotch Flaying While Standing Sideways on a Set of Glorified Bathroom Scales, but only if you could be bothered to type that out for the rest of the review.

Family Ski and Snowboard is played by using the Wii remote and nunchuck like ski poles. You waggle them in an up-and-down motion to gather speed. This results in genital flagellation from the cable connecting the two controllers. However, it's not the only way to gather speed. I failed to point this out in my review of the previous game, but several readers kindly did it for me.

They're right, of course - you can also gather speed by twisting the controllers and tucking your arms in, and I am "seriously amateur". Sorry. The tucking manoeuvre does help to reduce the amount of crotch-flaying experienced with Family Ski and Snowboard. It's still an occasional problem though, and I'd argue that sometimes it's a bit tricky to steer and stay tucked in at the same time.

'Family Ski and Snowboard' Screenshot 1

The clouds and characters seem to belong to different games - but they both look alright.

However, that isn't an issue if you're playing with the Wii balance board. You place it parallel to the TV if you've opted to ski, or perpendicular if you're snowboarding. In either case, you tilt your weight to steer. The balance board is highly responsive; in fact you need bit of practice to appreciate just how sensitive it is to your movements. It can even tell when you switch from crouching to standing, which is how you perform jumps. (Your instinct will be to do actual jumps but the game will tell you off for doing this, presumably because it's bad for the board's technomagical innards.)

Using the board is much more fun than using the remote and nunchuk alone. It feels more like you're actually zooming down a mountain, though the profusion of tiny people with giant heads and eyes like dinner plates makes it hard to fully believe you're in Val d'Isère. If you want to get all fancy you can use the remote and controller to perform special turns and tricks, and there's an extensive tutorial for those who like showing off. But if you just want to swoosh about a bit, the controls are easy to get to grips with.

As in the original game, there's a free-roaming snow resort to explore. You can muck about on the slopes at your own pace, or take part in races, trick competitions, mogul events and so on. There are plenty of characters to have tedious text-based conversations with, from ski instructors and tour guides to people who need your help to find their friend. Up to four players can hoon around via split-screen, but it can be difficult to stay together if you're of varying abilities.

It's all very nice but once again, it's a bit unstructured. Those who prefer linear progression to open-world exploration might feel a bit lost. You do get to earn rewards and unlock new goodies as you play, but in a random fashion. Plus, having to navigate your way across flat stretches of slope just to reach your chosen event gets tiresome.

If you just want to go for a bit of a ride, you'll enjoy the all-new Ride the Mountain mode. Here you get to ski or board down natural slopes free from artificial ramps, ski lifts, competitions and bobble-headed fetch-quest-givers. There's no music, and only a few other characters can be seen on the slopes. It's a much calmer, more relaxing experience, and there's something quite lovely about standing on a snowy peak, gazing at the mountain range in the distance and preparing to bomb down a sheer drop and right into your mate.

For those who are more about the bombing than the gazing there's the Competition Mode. The races and slalom challenges are ideal if you want to keep it simple, and brilliant fun. There are also trick competitions, such as the half-pipe and mogul run, which provide a real challenge for more skilled gamers.

Thankfully you don't have to do any tedious single-player unlocking - all the events and all the courses are available from the start. There's a decent number of both to choose from, and once again up to four players can take part. However, as is also the case with the other modes, only three of you can play if one person is using a Wii balance board.

'Family Ski and Snowboard' Screenshot 2

You can replace Namco's avatars with Miis, who look cute in the funky ski wear. The music's good, too.

One top of this, there's still no option to connect more than one Wii balance board. Seeing as every other person in the world appears to have bought Wii Fit, it's not far-fetched to imagine you might know someone else with the same peripheral. There are probably some fantastically technical reasons why it's just not possible to make the game work with two boards, but it's still a shame.

In other areas, however, Family Ski and Snowboard does improve on the previous title. Ride the Mountain is a nice addition, as are the extra competition events. The snowboarding may be the same as skiing only sideways, but it's fun to do and frequently hilarious to watch, especially if you're using a balance board.

What's more, Family Ski and Snowboard improves on real-life snowboarding. It's sociable rather than solitary, and there's not a single nasty or brutish thing about it. The good selections of courses and events mean it's not too short, and it's an ideal alternative to real winter sports if you're poor. But most importantly, it's not rubbish.

7/10

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Sat, 28 Feb 2009 12:50:37

NGamer-review

By now, veteran balance boarders have either got 'buns of steel', shudder from all those daily gyrations, or a bad case of buyer's remorse and £70-worth of whacking great plastic slab hidden underneath their sofa. We like Wii Fit, it's just a little bit worthy, dull and unpleasantly reminiscent of hard work.

Regardless of which category you fall into, this is what you've been waiting for: a whole game that finds an inventive way to use the peripheral. It's by far the greatest and most excellent thing you can do with a balance board - no matter how loved or neglected yours may be - and it can even be really enjoyable even if you don't own the perfect ski/snowboard accessory.

It follows the same format as last year's Family Ski and addresses the main criticism people threw at the game, namely that it was all far too one-paced and sedate. For the sequel they've thrown in some snowboards - so you don't have to use the remote and nunchuk as ski poles while standing on the balance board - and a handful of trick-based challenges, including a half-pipe and a section of mountainside littered with rails, ramps and 'fun boxes'.

There's also a second mountain for anyone who wants faster, more challenging races. Accessible only by helicopter, rather than the lower slope's ski lifts, it takes in some giddying descents, huge leaps and bone-rattling landings.

Both mountains are seamless areas where you can roam and explore without encountering loading pauses. There are so many alternative routes, particularly through the lower resort area, you can easily make your way down to the bottom from a single starting point three or four times without re-skiing the same pistes.

The resort is more heavily populated than the expert mountain and there are several stops along the way up the slopes. If you choose to take the ski lifts rather than selecting areas via the menu screen, you can hop off to hunt for hidden items and talk to some of the local characters before heading back to the lift.

However, there's always a chance you won't make it back to the highest point, as you'll usually be offered challenges or tutorials based on whatever unique features the current area might have. Some of the slopes have sheets of tightly packed ice, bumpy moguls, trees, deep powder snow and hairpin bends, all of which test your balance board skills in different ways and probably provide just as much of a workout for your legs as Wii Fit does.

Ice work
The real beauty of Family Ski & Snowboard is that it's big and varied enough for there to be loads of things to do, no matter what sort of player you are. If you don't fancy getting into the game's simplistic trick system, you don't ever have to use it. If you're only interested in setting fast times in races or slaloms, you can select them directly from the menu and ignore the whole exploration thing.

You don't even need to worry about anything that resembles a traditional game. Steer clear of the challenges and Family Ski becomes something your grandparents would probably enjoy, as long as their hips don't give out. The controls are realistic yet forgiving, so simply sliding around in the snow, admiring the sights and then getting your photo taken in front of landmarks is rewarding. A sizeable proportion of the game's audience might stick to doing just that and we wouldn't say they were missing out - it's a game for everyone.

You can invite up to three other players to follow you around, which will make the photo mode more interesting, especially with Miis. Of course, it's unlikely that everyone will have access to a balance board, but the game proves to be equally playable without it.

The remote and nunchuk double for a kind of virtual snowboard or pair of skis. Tilting one or both together digs the edges of your bits of wood into the snow, with a very fine degree of control, while twisting both hands inwards makes the character crouch and go faster.

That's all there is to it and it's testament to a non-gimmicky piece of design that we're just as happy to play this without the peripheral it's ostensibly made for. It may not be as challenging as SSX or Shaun White, but it's far more inclusive.

A relaxed approach to skiing and snowboarding that has loads of visual charm, very satisfying handling and a huge frozen playground to explore at your leisure.

8.7

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Sat, 28 Feb 2009 12:53:48

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Sat, 28 Feb 2009 20:02:05
I'd be much more interested in this if I had a balance board or liked skiing/snowboarding.  Alas neither are true.  Hoorah for some third-party quality, though.
Edited: Sat, 28 Feb 2009 20:03:02

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Mon, 02 Mar 2009 10:22:01
that last screenshot of the soft light through the black clouds and all the reflections on the snowy peaks makes me want this game even more.  i do wish i had a balance board for this but i think i will enjoy it regardless even if it's coming as winter is on the way out

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Mon, 02 Mar 2009 11:43:33

There is a video on page 3 that shows the controls sans balance board. It still looks really good. I do want this game but I may have to wait till I can score a cheap balance board. I want to play this game by leaning like I want to play tennis by swishing.

There is no going back for me.

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Mon, 02 Mar 2009 13:46:29
I still need a few more reviews.  It's probably a good game, but most reviews are clocking in at the 6 - 7 range.  The reasons for it are typically it should have been harder, there's not enough to do, and some other minor gripes.  That NGamer review is very different from the others so a few more reviews are needed.
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Mon, 02 Mar 2009 14:02:23
A long time ago, my sister was talking about the balance board and WiiFit even though she doesn't normally play video games... maybe if I can get her to pitch in $50 for the board, I'd pay the other half and get this game. I'm slowly converging towards getting WiiFit, but I already have a Wii Zapper sitting on my shelf with no good games I can use it with...

I'll be getting back into video games once I'm actually home again in April. I'll re-evaluate the whole thing then Nyaa.
Edited: Mon, 02 Mar 2009 14:03:46

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Mon, 02 Mar 2009 14:39:16

robio said:
I still need a few more reviews.  It's probably a good game, but most reviews are clocking in at the 6 - 7 range.  The reasons for it are typically it should have been harder, there's not enough to do, and some other minor gripes.  That NGamer review is very different from the others so a few more reviews are needed.

I've only seen two reviews.

EDIT: Just saw Gamesmaster and multiplayer reviews. Both gave it 7/10

There does seem to be a lot to do:

"The good selections of courses and events mean it's not too short"

"a huge frozen playground to explore at your leisure."

Edited: Mon, 02 Mar 2009 14:52:20

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Tue, 03 Mar 2009 18:47:11

This has got nothing to do with We Ski, but I like the sentiment.

play.jpg

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Thu, 05 Mar 2009 01:22:29

I just picked up the game and got through with about an hour with it.  Overall pretty fun.  So far I've just used the balance board to snowboard.  Kind of cool, but a little awkward.  My neck and back hurt a lot.  Part of it is due to how I have my TV higher than my head (it sits on the mantle over the fireplace), but part of it is due to how when you snowboard your body faces one direct but your neck has to face perpendicular to your feet the whole time.  And as you're in that position leaning forward and backward. . . well it kind of hurts.  Or perhaps I'm just out of shape.  

But so far it's a neat game.  I never played the original so I can't judge this one against it, but after an hour there's a lot that's surprised me.  There's photographers scattered around the mountain and if you stop by then you'll get your picture taken in a scenic location.  There's also quests to do.  Nothing big, but at the bottom of the mountain there are people who need favors done, like picking up things from friends who are elsewhere on the mountain.

The game mechanics are strong when played with the balance board.  It takes a little getting used to as I've never snowboarded, but once you get the hang of it, it feels very natural pushing off and then shifting your weight to glide down the mountain.

The graphics are excellent for a Wii game.  Dusk is a beautiful time with the sun shining in some locations while heavy shadows hang over other parts.  And the scenery overall is very impressive.  As you start off high on the mountains you feel like you're all alone with just you, the snow and the clouds, and as you go by you might find someone else until finally you start seeing a lot of skiers and snowboarders (many of whom are bumping into each other and getting hurt).

It's a little too early to give a recommendation, but at $40 I have a feeling that it's worth picking up new.

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Thu, 05 Mar 2009 10:57:42

Robio, sounds like you are out of shape. I have minor back problems but maybe it would help my back strength? I have no balance board though. I just saw that IGN gave it a low score.

Try out the normal controls for me please. Nice impressions. Have you played a night race yet?

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Thu, 05 Mar 2009 12:00:12

Just read the IGN review, that review seriously sucks balls.

Closing Comments
We Ski & Snowboard goes too far into casual territory and ends up being apathetic. With no structure or goal to reach the game just lays there. Players have no incentive to do anything. It doesn't come close to the exhilarating feeling of playing these sports because the game is slow and the waggle controls are clunky. The balance board has been implemented well, but that's about the only reason to give this sequel a try. Otherwise, it's an exercise in apathy.

The whole game is ruined because everything is unlocked from the start? WTF? So if every level of RE5 was unlocked from the start I guess you wouldn't want to play it at all right? *rolls eyes* Other reviews have praised that aspect calling it a wintery playground or saying that there is tons of stuff to do. That is their only complaint, or the controls which everyone else has praised?

What a crappy review. I remember the 1up review of the original was a good review that made me keep my eye on the sequel.

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Thu, 05 Mar 2009 13:38:11

Let me address the IGN review.  It comes down to this:  the reviewer is the type of gamer who needs a beginning, middle, and end of a game.  He's clearly not into open-ended playground kind of games.  He's bothered that the courses are unlocked.  I don't quite get why it's a problem.  There's no reason why you would just do the hardest course and not do the easier ones.  If you do that you'll miss a lot of things that are going on up and down the slopes.  Plus you can spend a lot of time unlocking new outfits and gear, by doing different errands, winning races, and taking tours.

gamingeek said:

Robio, sounds like you are out of shape. I have minor back problems but maybe it would help my back strength? I have no balance board though. I just saw that IGN gave it a low score.

Try out the normal controls for me please. Nice impressions. Have you played a night race yet?

As far as your back strength, maybe if you use the balance board it could help.  The standard controls won't do a thing for you physically.  And frankly if you don't have the balance board the game isn't nearly as fun.  The leaning to the left and right is what gives it the arcade experience and pulls you in.  With the normal controls it's just another sports game.  I'd pass if you don't have the balance board -  though frankly I'd recommend you pick one up at some point.  If you really want to work on your back strength the Wii Yoga will do wonders for you.

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Thu, 05 Mar 2009 15:09:11

I actually have really bad posture. I use a back support for seats.

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Fri, 06 Mar 2009 00:01:45

Just a little more information on the game.  There's two separate areas to ski.  The first is the mountain resort which is covered with ramps, mogels, rails, etc., and lots of people.  It's basically the place where you do more trick skiing and boarding.  Then there's the mountain peak area which is more isolated, more natural, and offers more of a sense of exploration.

So far my favorite aspect of the game has been unlocking the Thumbs Up.  If you do something impressive or difficult you're be rewarded with a Thumbs Up icon that will unlock Special gear (I just got a Jesus robe which is really odd though it's now my wardrobe of choice).  They're a little random since there's nothing really to tell you what to do to get them, but it offers up a nice surprise.  I got my first when I jumped over a large chasm (that took me about 4 attempts to do).  

I am very much enjoying the game.  It's more for just the atmosphere and seeing the sites, but I'm sure as I get better I'll start doing more deliveries and contests.

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Fri, 06 Mar 2009 10:10:48
So there is stuff unlock? IGN fail.

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Fri, 06 Mar 2009 13:20:05

gamingeek said:
So there is stuff unlock? IGN fail.

Oh yeah.  The courses are all unlocked but if you want to customize your avatar at all you're going to have to do some work.

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Fri, 06 Mar 2009 18:29:32

robio said:

gamingeek said:
So there is stuff unlock? IGN fail.

Oh yeah.  The courses are all unlocked but if you want to customize your avatar at all you're going to have to do some work.

I was listening to the IGN podcast. I really dont understand Hatfields reasoning. He said you can go up to a character and race them and win. And because it doesn't unlock anything he feels the whole game is pointless? This game seems like a sandbox game, the pleasure comes from playing it, not because they will give you a new track next time. He and Bozon also seem to be under the impression that there is just the mountain and nothing else, when I read that there are two mountains like you said, the resort and the proper above clouds mountain.

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