Shaun White Snowboarding

To paraphrase Holly from Red Dwarf:

The problem with mobile phone screens is that they're white. And the problem with snow - your basic snow colour - is that it's white. So how're you supposed to see it?

That's the first problem you'll encounter with the mobile strain of the popular Shaun White Snowboarding franchise currently tearing down the games industry mountainside.

Snowboarding games are tricky beasts for a mobile phone to handle, what with their reliance on 3D visuals, fast gameplay speed and the inherent need to perform complex tricks under very tight restraints.

However, 3D visuals are the least of Shaun White Snowboarding's problems, since plenty of developers have found ingenious ways of reimagining a super console's graphics on the micro screen. (Take Fishlabs's superb Snowboard Hero.) Here we're given a side-on view, making this something of a platform game at a downward angle. In principle, this method works just fine, with enough forward visibility to make you bash the buttons with vinegar.

The slopes have a few features on them, like jumps, rails, and... different kinds of rails, which increase in frequency and vary slightly as the game progresses.

Hitting '5' to jump at the right moment, then hitting buttons on the rest of the keypad, performs your vital snowboarding trickery. More moves are unlocked as the game progresses, but the back flip - which you can perform from the outset - is pretty much all you need.

There's a huge score difference between the flip and most other moves, which isn't really reflected in the trick's difficulty.

A 360 grants you a measly 25 points, while a back flip - taking much the same amount of air with a single button press - awards you 250, so back flipping down the piste seems to be the key to success. Keeping moving as you come up to rails helps you maintain your speed, which in tun gives you more air when you hit a jump, so you can string a few flips together.

In the background you can see some picturesque and surprisingly detailed mountain-scapes, with cable cars and snow lifts. This atmospheric backdrop is somewhat wasted, however, since the foreground consists of precisely nothing. Therefore, watching your miniature snowboarder jittering uncomfortably - with no real animation to represent their speed or actions - is all there is to look at.

Aesthetics don't make a game, but Shaun White Snowboarding is so sparse there's not even a shadow beneath your boarder to let you know where the ground is. The all-white screen means you can't actually tell when you're going to hit the floor after a jump until you land successfully and start skiing again, or perform a rolling face plant.

There are quite a few different slopes and countries to visit, but as far as you're concerned there's nothing actually different about them during the run. Unlocking a slope means you can then run it in a pass-to-play multiplayer mode of up to four boarders, which is a nice, if small, touch to help give the game a little extra interest.

And that's where Shaun White Snowboarding really falls down - its interest levels. All in all it's not a bad little snowboarding mini-game, but it simply doesn't do anywhere near enough to call itself a full commercial release.

With a lot more meat in this bright-white gravy, it could have been pretty good. As it is, it seems like much more of a promotional tool for Mr White than a game in its own right.

Shaun White Snowboarding

The beginnings of a decent snowboarding game, but one that's ultimately as featureless and shallow as the snow on the mountain
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