So what’s with the lingo, dude? Are you spinning a fakie? Oh, sorry - we were getting a bit carried away with our cool snowboarder lingo. It’s just that it’s so hard to stop. When you’re allowed to shout out phrases like “totally awesome nose grab, dude” and not get funny looks from passersby, it feels rather liberating. It also means you’re likely to start dropping such words into your regular vocabulary. Which is why, when questioned the other day about Extreme Air Snowboarding, we shouted “highly addictive and totally playable, dude!”
The tutorial mode is the best and obvious place to start out as it’s designed to teach you the basic skills you’re going need to succeed in the game. Here a personal trainer takes you through the secrets of performing moves such as moving left to right in the half pipe, jumping and performing helicopters and back flips, balancing on rails and boxes while performing grabs in the air on your dismount. He also gives you little pointers on how to score the big trick points with the judges. Helpful he may be, but not only do you need to remember which number corresponds to which grab (tail, nose, Indy etc), but having a manicure of any decent length or fingers bigger than a nine year-old’s will hamper your efforts to actually strike the right key, resulting in an attempt to perform several grabs all at once and sending you A over T into the snow.
Having once mastered the basics with your trainer its time to progress to Career mode. Here there are levels for all skills and abilities in the form of 11 different missions. In order to progress through the mission rankings, you must first complete the previous level; should you fail to complete even the most basic tasks required in level 1, you will not be able to move onto level 2 or higher, which can be frustrating as you can end up re-playing the same level over and over. At it’s most basic, career mode really just asks that you perform as many tricks and moves as possible in five minutes. For example, mission 1 demands that you do ten tricks, balance on the rail, use speed strips and score over 1000 trick points before you run out of slope. The screen shows both your total score as well as your trick score, the aim being to score as high as you can and maintain your number 1 ranking – as if it’s not hard enough trying to land on the railing in one piece and balance there without checking on how many points you’re racking up! The other two modes comprise Freeride and, of course, Multiplayer. Freeride is just that: you’re on the slope just doing your thang which, to be honest, is a little dull without any real objective to meet. Multiplayer is simply a rehash of the career mode taking turns with a pal.
The lack of gender of the snowboarding character is for once a bonus as this genre is undoubtedly ruled by the male species and us girlies are tired of being forced to compete as some blonde surf dude wearing a bobble hat – this game is about the action, regardless of choosing characters, snowboards and so on. You’ll either find yourself forever cursing your inability to pull off that super-cool trick sequence or praising yourself for that oh-so-sweet maneuver that you just wish they’d replay. There’s no escaping the bland scenery through which you snowboard but, after all, all you really need is snow and a few obstacles and the gameplay, which is more than enough to hold your attention, will take care of the rest.