Snowboard Kids was left in the shadows of the largely more popular Mario Kart 64. The famous kart racers is certainly a more rounded game, but one should not forget fun can come from the most unlikely source – Snowboard Kid is an incredible fun racer.
Snowboard Kids follow the same principles of arcade racers. It isn’t about realistic movements and physics. It is about having 3 other friends around the couch – screaming and shouting, all for that frantic rush to the finish line. Snowboard kids is simplistic and perfect in execution.
The most memorable part of Snowboard Kids, well personally speaking, is the music. The game uses the Stone Age format of midi files, by today standard this would be considered to be poor quality. The sound quality maybe poor, but the composition isn’t. The music is catchy and has a strong emotional feel. The music is hard to describe. It is a combination of electro mixes and upbeat tunes. I just love the music, call it nostalgia, the music is just superb.
Snowboard kid has a selection of 6 characters each with their own distinct characteristics and advantages. 6 is quite a small number for a rooster, even for a game on the 64. The depth of the game is based on the ability to take advantage of your character traits. Each character is ranked on their speed, control and tricks. Slash the leader of the group, is an all-rounder with good stats in each criteria. If you want a character with pure speed, then you best opt for tubby Tommy.
A smart player can compensate the disadvantage of a character with an appropriate snowboard. Just like the characters, each board has its own characteristic. Getting a good combination between the character and board is a key strategy to success.
Just like Mario kart, a Snowboard kid also has items within the racing field. With items, the snow becomes a battlefield. Using the items correctly will give you a distinct advantage and can change your fortunes in an instant. Personally, I feel the items are balanced much more than the item rooster in Mario kart. You won’t get frustrated because you got struck by a blue shell while in the lead. It’s a fair playing field which is delightful in an arcade racer. The most useful item is the pan, the item sends pans to squash the other contestant, leaving them temporarily immobilised.
There are other items that add to the insanity such as Bombs, gloves with homing capabilities, and a parachute projectile. You cannot simply expect to use items at will. In the racing field you need to collect coins and perform tricks to build up currency to purchase items. In rare cases where you are not careful with your income, you will find yourself unable to purchase items.
There is a total of 9 tracks to race on. Snowboard Kids doesn’t always have you race on snow. In fact there is a lot of variety on the locales in which you race. Some might be absurd and downright impossible to snowboard on. Oh well. It’s just a game. Tracks can vary from the dessert, to a green grassland or even on a theme park. The tracks offer a wide variety of terrain and challenge for the players.
Outside the multiplayer, there are other modes to play around with while by yourself. The main attraction of the single player is the battle mode. Battle mode is the Snowboard Kid answer to grand prix mode in Mario Kart. Essentially you race against the AI. There are other modes such as time attack and a Half Pipe, they are good distraction. But ultimately the fun is all in the multiplayer.
I just love snowboard. It is one of the games that defined my childhood. While the game won’t hold too well by today standards, that shouldn’t matter. Snowboard Kids reminds me that game should be fun first, all that technical and complex gibberish should be second fiddle.