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Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage - Wii Review

Game Info
Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage

Ubisoft | Wii | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Balance Board; WiiMotionPlus
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15th October 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Ubisoft has seemed to have hit a mine of potential with the Shaun White branding. This new series of games started out with a multi-platform snowboarding game that sold over a million copies on the Wii alone. Clearly, the sales numbers have prompted the developers to release a sequel to this successful game, entitled 'Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage'. And plans are well under way to develop a skateboarding game based off the Olympian gold medalist. Now I personally thought the first game (SWS: Road Trip) was pretty fun, but I did have trouble really getting into it. How does the sequel compare?

    The mechanics from the first title have been kept in tact, with a few changes here and there. Your main source of motivation that ties everything together is the fact that you're now competing against the world in a tournament to prove your worth as a boarder. Along the way, fellow participants will join your crew as you rise to stardom. Each character has their own set of statistics within 5 different categories: Speed, Jump, Grip, Landing and Mass. Special abilities are also distributed amongst the riders under the moniker of 'Friend Powers'. Once you earn enough Respect Points in a match, you'll be able to use your power to blind other racers, increase speed, or earn more points for tricks, just to name a few. Players can be customized with stickers and decals for their boards, as well as applying new patterns for clothing as you climb the leaderboards.

You'll go through different leagues of difficulty: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Pro and World Stage. Completing events will improve your rank in the world, allowing you to advance to the leagues of the big boys. Each campaign is strung out into a series of weekly challenges. There are multiple variations on the kinds of challenges you'll encounter, such as trick contests, alpine races, and slaloms. You may only choose one at a time for each week, so you'd do well to choose the stuff you're good at. 

These events can even be replayed at a later time to unlock achievements and special rewards. At the conclusion of each event, you'll have the ability to access the Nintendo Wi-Fi Leaderboards to submit your best scores and times online. The implementation could be a better though, to save you the trouble of going into each event manually. But it's still a nice addition over the original release.

    Controls in the game are very user-friendly, and it's doubtful you'll have trouble understanding it. Twisting the Wii Remote in a given direction will produce the same effect on-screen in how your rider moves across the snow. When you approach sharp turns, you can carve with the B Button, but you'll lose some speed in order to execute it properly. Pulling off tricks isn't very difficult. Simply hold the A Button before going off a ramp or a hill to pick up speed, then release as you swing the Remote upwards. Whilst in the air, you can pull off grabs, and other aerial tricks to accumulate points. Executing a chain of tricks within a few seconds will increase your multiplier, and you'll earn even more points if you can land your trick correctly. You'll even see little icons appear on-screen to signify the kind of trick you performed.

Naturally, controls differ once you make use of the Wii Balance Board, but not by a whole lot. It has a learning curve to it, to be sure, but with patience, this can be a fun method of play. The overall trick execution can seem a bit sloppy when you go off bumps unintentionally and start doing a trick because of the way your hand is tilted. Plus, the trickset in the game is far from deep. But for some, this won't be a major issue.

The graphics in the game are nice to look at, sporting a cartoony style, making this snowboarding experience appear as if it's targeted towards kids. The environments you'll travel to sometimes have some nice elements to them, like when fireworks set the stage for the competition at hand. But for the most part, the track designs are unimaginative, and just plain underwhelming overall. Because of the way they're set up, stages feel very linear with little-to-no room to venture off on your own and explore. The music does have some nice tunes included in the collection, but it won't appeal to everyone.

The entire game is very casual-focused when compared with a game like SSX Blur. And after playing this game, I developed even more appreciation for the game which I love so much. Although Blur may have been more difficult to play, players were more involved, tricks were a lot more fun to pull off, and personal progression was well-rewarded. And while this game has been nicely tailored for all ages, those who want something more meaningful will be disappointed.

    What really makes the game more of a noteworthy project is its incorporation of the Wii Balance Board. It's something that existed in the original release, making it a lot more interesting. And the same case is true here. There's a slight learning curve when it comes to understanding how to execute tricks properly and the like, but spend some time with it and you might even perceive it to be more controlled, and a lot of fun. World Stage also includes support for the WiiMotionPlus accessory for normal gameplay. When using this device, I found that taking turns was easier to do, and it was rare that I ever had to carve with the B Button. What's cool is the fact that you can make your own tricks using what's known as the Trick Machine. It has its limitations but there's some potential here for the more creative players.

Multiplayer is also well-focused on in this game. In addition to split-screen versus matches in the form of Free Play sessions and Tournament Cups, there's also a co-op feature that allows you and a friend to go through the main campaign in tandem. When taking turns in Hotseat competitions, the previous rider's performance is shown as a ghost. These modes don't provide lasting enjoyment, but they can be fun once in a while. While older gamers may find the single-player component to be far from difficult, facing human players who have roughly the same skill as you offers a more challenging way to play. It's just a shame that while the developers have managed to include online leaderboards, online multiplayer is still completely missing from the package. 

    Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage is a modest sequel but in actuality, there aren't a ton of changes if you've played Road Trip. Most retailers have this game available for $20, but it would be good to give World Stage a rental and see how you like it before committing yourself to it. The casual focus of this game has led to an experience that lacks a strong sense of speed, diversity, exploration and depth, which may rightly be bothersome to many. But at the same time, it's quite user-friendly and does have its enjoyable moments. It's a nice Wii-exclusive, and I'd say it at least deserves a rental, especially if you own a Balance Board.

21/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - User-friendly controls, trick execution isn't very deep, good tournament setup, varied event and character selection
Presentation 7/10 - Nice to look at overall, music is decent but won't be to everyone's tastes, tracks aren't all that interesting and can sometimes feel bare
Enjoyment 3/5 - Does have its fun moments, younger gamers will enjoy this the most, few moments of excitement, sense of accomplishment with good runs
Extra Content 4/5 - Balance Board support, Wi-Fi leaderboards, fun multiplayer modes, Trick Machine allows for custom tricks, lacks online multiplayer

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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