Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage Review (Wii)
Shaun White is the best snowboarder in the world. His 2006 gold medal for Team USA in Torino, Italy cemented that fact. But with the Olympics still a month away, the high-flying White still has a bit of time to focus some attention on the game industry. So while Shaun gets prepped to tear up another halfpipe in Vancouver, he probably wants people to enjoy his latest video game, Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage, which was recently released for the Nintendo Wii.
Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage is the sequel to Shaun White Snowboarding Road Trip. Boasting fun cartoon personalities who travel the international borders on the snowboarding world circuit, this Wii sports title works in well with the spirit of the Olympics. World Stage builds on the prequel by offering a new career mode, new venues and a trick creator feature.
Snowboarding with the Wii remote in Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage is very intuitive, challenging and rewarding. More than anything else, controlling your boarder involves turning your wrists to maneuver left and right. The face buttons (A and B) help you speed up or brake when necessary, and also help you carve up sharp corners when you are going down those tricky slopes.
Performing big-time tricks may be the sweetest part of snowboarding in real life, and in World Stage on the Wii, landing a big-air trick off a jump can leave you holding your breath from takeoff to landing.
There are a variety of pretty sick aerial tricks to pull off on the enormous mountainsides. All of the tricks you perform are gauged, especially during your landing. If you can get your boarder to land a perfect trick, your character gets big-time points. Combos can be added in as multipliers for extra points in your performances.
Some of the tricks are insane and are a blast to chain together. It’s definitely rewarding when you land some big-time tricks after getting some big air.
Wii Balance Board
This would not be a real Wii sports title without the Wii balance board functionality. The balance board is as close to a real snowboard as it can be with four main pressure points on the board. The board must be turned the long way and face the Wii motion sensor. Before you begin, the game measures your weight balanced on all four points on the board.
Putting pressure on the front two points of the board (treating it like the nose of a board) will make your Wii character lean hard on the nose of his or her board and gain speed down the slopes. Pressing on the tail end of your balance board will help your character brake. It’s quite responsive, and you have the option to select the sensitivity of your board as well.
Carving up the mountains on the balance board has a bit of a learning curve, but once you begin to balance yourself and gain some control, the Wii snowboard is pretty sick.
Performing tricks on the balance board can be done by launching yourself off a jump with a slight hop on the board. To land, just balance yourself on all four points of your board and your rider straightens out in the air for a landing.
The board itself requires some serious balance and timing. You will actually get a quad workout while you try to carve left and right down the slopes. The result is players will be very engaged with this game.
Shaun White World Stage brings Shaun’s personality into the digital form. The vibrant cartoon characters rock the funny, and have distinct clothing styles and boards straight out of Shaun’s closet. You can unlock some of his boots, boards, jackets, decals for the boards and hats.
When riders pull off some tricks, each trick pops up on screen with an icon displaying funny cartoon items -- I really do not know what they to do with the tricks themselves. Pizzas and cheese pop up for certain tricks as an example -- it’s kind of amusing I suppose. The icons are used for rewarding accomplishments in-game.
The music during the gameplay mostly resembles '80s rock that is overall pretty awesome and fitting for the game. As Shaun said in a recent interview with CNET.com, "I’m way into the rock and roll side of things."
Some of the landscapes on the giant mountain ranges are gorgeous. Each landscape has different sponsors, which adds a nice touch of realism to each venue and satisfies Shaun’s sponsors at the same time.
As you compete in venues all across the globe, you will find each unique mountain range features some distinct monuments from each respective country -- examples being Big Ben in England and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Characters have certain attributes that they excel in. These attributes include speed, landing, balance, tricks and others. The celebrations at the end of a race are amusing, and you will find yourself celebrating with the cartoon characters after completing some of the challenging events.
There are a couple of game modes in Shaun White World Stage: Career, Versus, Freeride, Creator.
In career mode, you follow Shaun’s crew across the world competing for the number one ranking in the world. Each event you participate in helps you climb the ranks. It is a fun concept and keeps the pursuit of huge points very competitive during every event.
During career, you can also play with friends via split screen as you compete against the computer while chasing the number one spot. Or if you want to choose the events to battle in, you can just log into the versus mode and pick from a fun selection of events -- Big Air being my favorite.
Shaun White World Stage also offers a trick editor. Here you can assign custom tricks with different motions on the Wii remote. This adds some nice customization to the game.
Shaun White World Stage is meant to be played with a group of friends and family. You can ride in some cooperative events or do some competitive ones -- it’s all about your preference. The snowboarding techniques are simplified and do deliver a nice responsive feel on the Wii balance board.
This is an overall fun game, and it is fun for everyone. While it may be aimed at the younger crowd, play this game with friends and family and you will have a good time.
On the Slopes: This Wii Sports title delivers some challenging races, a bit of strategy, and some arcade fun.
Graphics: The graphics in World Stage are very good for a Nintendo Wii title. The frame rate is smooth at high paces and the environments are beautifully designed.
Sound Design: Pretty awesome mix of 80's rock music and contemporary pop.
Entertainment Value: World Stage allows you to ride a variety of modes - pick up a balance board and race with some friends and you will have a good time climbing the rankings in cooperative career mode.
Learning Curve: Learning the controls in World Stage is a bit steep, but once you get the balance board down, the tricks fly naturally off mountainsides.
Online: N/A for this review.
Score: 8.0 (Very Good)