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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Racing / Extreme Sports

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2003

 

 

- Real sense of speed

- Great presentation and small touches

- Good roster of tricks

 

 

- Not as free form as the other snowboarding games

- Some choppiness, mostly during multiplayer

 

 

Review: SSX Tricky (GC)

Review: Transworld Snowboarding (XB)

Review: Amped 2 (XB)

 

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1080 Avalanche

 

There are several aspects of 1080° Avalanche that make it competitive with SSX3 but one or two issues prevent it from being a completely breakout game.

 

1080 avalanche gamecube review          1080 avalanche gamecube review

 

1080° Avalanche concentrates more on pure racing than SSX3’s tricked-out features.  1080° concentrates more on getting to the bottom of the run the fastest.  There is a trick system, which is mostly easy to master, but it’s used only to up your power meter.  In what is reminiscent of Midway’s NHL Hitz series, once the power meter is maxed out you take on an aura that allows you to knock down opponents or get up faster after a wipeout.

 

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Besides racing on the 15 courses, you’ll get to test your racing and tricking skills in 1080°’s various modes that include trick attack, time trial and gate challenge.  Because every mode is restricted to very specific courses, you don’t feel as free to explore them like in SSX3.

 

The race structure is actually a nod to those Four Stage games.  Three stages (or races in this case) are usually quick challenges, while the fourth race is like the boss showdown where 

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the avalanche often shows up (with convincing rumbling if you have a subwoofer).  I really liked the design of each course, which presents not-so-common snowboarding game challenges, like avoiding two-plank wankers (i.e. skiers) and dodging through a sawmill.

 

The sense of speed, so important to racing games, really comes through in 1080°.  Your boarder’s clothes ripple and the screen blurs around the edges when you really get going (in the manner of Burnout 2), which creates a great sense of speed (even if there is the occasional instance of choppiness).  And when you do wipe out going really fast, you’re treated to some good wipeout animations.

 

1080 avalanche gamecube review          1080 avalanche gamecube review

 

The act of wiping out can actually be avoided a lot of the time.  When you’re a little off on your landing you have to swivel the control stick to regain your balance.  This actually feels more natural than SSX3’s button presses to recover from a bad landing.  If the landing is just not recoverable, like when you land on your head, swiveling the control stick won’t do any good.

 

Multiplayer is a little rough on the edges.  Four-player split screen isn’t horrid but it tries its best with choppiness all over the place.  Two-player split screen and LAN play is much better not only in execution but also because you don’t have to cope with a sliding-scale opponent AI that can always, no matter how well you’re doing, catch up an make the race extremely close.  (You’ll lose many races by a couple of seconds because the AI managed to overtake you in the last few meters of the race.)

 

1080° Avalanche isn’t as remarkable as it might have been.  It does what it does well, but there might not be enough here for those that have only been exposed to the SSX series.  But the sense of speed and clean fun make it more than a mere token effort from the developers.  Worth a go-round.

 

- Omni

(March 15, 2004)

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