When the PS2 was released, it came with a nice little demo disk. It showed off a few nice videos, had the program YABASIC on it, and a couple of playable demos. [i]SSX[/i] was one of those playable demos. It was, without a doubt, the best of the first few PS2 games. A year later, those crazy guys at EA did what they do best: make a sequel.
[i]SSX[/i] is basically the snowboarding equivalent of Motocross. It’s a race between 6 boarders, each trying to be as stylish and tricky as possible. Throughout the tracks, there are plenty of big jump opportunities, so the boarders can show off their incredible skills in the air. Each successful trick will add to the adrenaline bar at the side of the screen, allowing for a small boost in speed at the touch of a button. Obviously, screwing up a trick, or falling flat on your face will decrease the adrenaline bar. So that was [i]SSX[/i]; a race, pulling tricks to earn speed boosts.
A year on, they reckoned that they had better come to grips with the technology available to them. They said that they had wanted to do things that wouldn’t have been possible in the first [i]SSX[/i]. Tricky isn’t so much a sequel, as a remake. All the courses of the original are back, but a few of the original riders have gone AWOL. (Sadly, this includes the awesome Hiro.) Tricky makes up for it by introducing a bunch of brand new boarders – from the well balanced alpine boarder, Brodi (Hiro’s replacement), to the maniacal BX boarder, Psymon. All the original tracks reappear, some have minor adjustments. Some are like entirely new courses. There’s also the welcome addition of two new tracks; a super easy beginner course, Garibaldi, and an insanely difficult expert course. Alaska.
The emphasis in Tricky is on style, rather than speed. The introduction of Uber Tricks is the best example of this. Topping off the adrenaline bar, there’s now the word “TRICKY”. When you build up the adrenaline bar all the way to the top, Run DMC will briefly highjack the soundtrack, and start yelling “It’s TRICKY!!” This is your opportunity to perform an Uber Trick. These new tricks award you with massive points, a complete refill to your adrenaline bar (Though it should be full anyway, if you just pulled an Uber Trick…) and each Uber Trick you perform will highlight one letter of the “TRICKY” which adorns the adrenaline bar. Highlighting the entire word will give you infinite boost for the rest of the race. It is of course, incredibly hard to pull off 6 Uber Tricks in time for it to actually make it worthwhile.
Each race you win will give you experience points, which you use to upgrade your rider. These points are pretty damn useful, especially when you turn your attentions to Showoff mode. Showoff is the other mainstay of Tricky – you get a course all to yourself, and have to reach the target number of trick points. Here, Uber Tricks are your friends. Do well in the races and showoffs and you’ll advance a ranking. Your rank is just a cosmetic thing – but each new rank unlocks a new board for your rider.
That’s pretty much it as far as gameplay goes. So what makes it so fun? It’s all the little things. The DJ’s always fun and characters like Eddie and Psymon often have interesting things to say. The variety among the boarders is great. Even the character select screen acknowledges their differences; Kaori hides from Psymon. Those are the nice little details that make [i]SSX Tricky[/i] a joy to play, over and over again.
Load times are kept to a minimum which is strange considering they reappeared with a vengeance in [i]SSX 3[/i]. Popup is non-existent, and framerates are never a problem. The graphics aren’t outstanding, but then – it is 5 years old. All things considered, they are pretty remarkable. One minor problem (if it could be called that) is that each character’s outfit selection has little variety. They’re all the same outfit, just with colour swaps.
The music is pretty damn suitable. Lots of hip hop and the general snowboarding vibe make up this sweet soundtrack. The voice actors are all top notch (David Duchovny and Lucy Liu are among the cast) and all suit their character’s well. The DJ is fantastic; he introduces each track in his own unique way… There isn’t much else to say. [i]SSX Tricky[/i] is fantastic, in an over-the-top kind of way. Some of the Uber Tricks, like Psymon’s Guillotine Air, spit at the laws of physics. It’s this rampant surrealism that makes [i]SSX Tricky[/i] fun to play, even though it’s old.
Should you look into Tricky, even though it has 2 sequels? In a word – yeah. [i]SSX On Tour[/i] does away with all the crazy Uber Tricks, and in the process, loses a lot of the [i]SSX[/i] charm. If you’re looking for a solid, realistic snowboard game; go for [i]SSX On Tour[/i]. If you want a bit of silly fun, this is the one to get. At around $8, there is no downside to [i]SSX Tricky[/i]. One thing I must mention though – steer clear of the Gamecube version. It just doesn’t work – not enough shoulder buttons. That said, go buy it. Now.