SSX Blur

Review

posted 3/21/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Wii
Another problem is that all movement of your snowboarder is done using the nunchuck control. This means that when you want to turn left you have to twist your wrist to the left and when you want to turn right you have to twist your wrist left. On paper this sounds like a good idea, but it won't take long before you realize that this is not only difficult to get the movement right but also a little painful. Perhaps there are people out there that are more flexible than I am, but when it came right down to it constantly twisting my wrist around hurt my arm and made it difficult to have a good time with the game.
 
The good news is that you can change the control scheme so that you use the analog stick to control your character and not the actual nunchuck. There's no question that this style of game play works better, but it's still not perfect. Even when you use the analog stick to control your snowboarder you will still need to use the nunchuck movement when you are getting ready to perform a jump or a trick. The moment you hold the A button down (which is used to get into the jump position) you will no longer be able to control your character with the analog stick, instead you will go back to twisting your wrist to direct your character. Since you don't have to do this as often it ends up being less painful, but you will need to be holding your nunchuck straight up in order to not veer off into a direction you don't want to go. This meant that I needed to change the way I held the controls, something that took a little while to get used to. Regardless of how you end up holding the control or setting up the movements, this nunchuck problem is hardly the worst part of SSX Blur.
 
Without a doubt the most broken element of SSX Blur has to be the ubertricks, which are used to rack up huge points when your power meter is maxed out and you are getting massive air. In past games the ubertricks were not only fun to watch but also fairly easy to pull off, which meant that getting huge scores was a simple proposition. Those days are long gone, because doing an ubertrick in SSX Blur is akin to solving the Middle East crisis - next to impossible. Once you've maxed out your character's "groove" meter you will get a little picture on the bottom of your screen that you are supposed to draw, but most of them are far too complex and seem to require some sort of skill I don't possess.
 
Not all of the pictures are hard to draw, but even the ones the easiest ubertricks are entirely too difficult to pull off when you need them. For example, one of the ubertricks is a "Z" shape, which looks like it should be easy to draw. Yet it took me about three dozen tries before I was able to get it to work. And that's the easiest picture out of the bunch. This whole process would be made easier if there was some sort of on-screen display to show you how you were doing, but instead you just draw the lines hoping that it works out for the best. To make this even more frustrating you never know how big you have to draw the picture, or where you need to draw it or even how fast you need to do it. It's all a mystery … a mystery so annoying and frustrating that I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the gamers who play this game never actually attempt these difficult stunts.
 
Perhaps the developers realized how difficult these ubertricks were, because there's a slightly helpful guide in the options that allows you to keep practicing these motions until you get them right. While this is more helpful than not having any guide at all, it still doesn't change the fact that these motions are almost impossible to pull off when you actually need to do them.
 
Once you've experienced all of the frustration associated with the ubertricks system you'll find that the rest of the game is a little more manageable. On one hand it's hard to be down on this game because it gets nearly every aspect of the franchise right; from the great graphics, memorable character designs, extras to earn, and cool over-the-top action. But none of that matters when it's difficult to control the game. If you stick with SSX Blur long enough you will no doubt find that you get more used to its inconsistent controls and technical imperfections. The more I came back to it the better I became, but I never felt like it was worth the trouble when there are so many other versions of this series that don't have these problems (including some you can play on the Wii with the regular GameCube control).
 
True to the spirit of the SSX franchise, Blur looks and sounds incredible. All three of the peaks have a different tone to them, and there's plenty of detail to admire when you're speeding down the slopes. The characters are also good looking, even if they have this somewhat strange animated look to them. There are a few technical hiccups when it comes to the game's presentation (frame rate problems, a few minor glitches, etc.), but for the most part this game is on par with the graphics found in all of the other SSX titles.
 
Along with the strong graphics you will find that the mountain is fun to explore and worth your trouble to check out every nook and cranny. There are a lot of secret items scattered around the three peaks, as well as a few bonus events and plenty of extra content to earn. If you can get over the control issues you will find that this game offers a lot to do, which would have made this game a fantastic value.
 
But regardless of how good everything else was, I couldn't shake the feeling that this game was just broken. I would get so angry with the experience that I would have to turn it off and walk away, only to wonder if I was being too hard on the game. Later I would go back and try it again only to have exactly the same reaction, which says to me that either I'm just not getting it or there's something in this version that makes me not want to have fun with it. I love the other games, so I can only guess that it must be that I just don't feel that the controls add anything to the game (if anything, they take too much away from the core experience). I really want to love SSX Blur, but there's a part of me that just can't get past the difficult ubertricks and inaccurate control scheme. That's not to say that these issues can't be worked out in some sort of sequel, but in its current state SSX Blur is one frustrating experience.



D-
Instead of making controlling your snowboarder easier, the Wii's new motion-sensing controls have made SSX much harder than it needs to be. What once was one of the best extreme sports franchises has been reduced to one of the most disappointing games of the year.


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