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Publisher: Ubisoft    Genre: Sports
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel    RAM: 999 MB    Hard Disk: 7200 MB

Shaun White Snowboarding
June 17, 2009 | Franklin Pride

Click to enlarge

Chair Lift
Ever since the release of the first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, there have been numerous copies and sequels. Most of these never saw the light of day, due to the sheer quality of the Tony Hawk releases. Now, Shaun White Snowboarding (SWS) has entered the Mac scene with roughly the same mechanics, but a completely different way to use them. The question is, is it different enough to warrant a purchase or is it just another Pro Skater clone with a big endorsement?

Well, it certainly plays differently. The main difference is that you can only go downhill if you want to move at any significant speed. If you want to climb back up in under half an hour, you have to snowboard to a chair lift or helicopter and get dropped off at a spot higher up on the course. You also can connect to friends and have them join you on the mountains, which is something that Tony Hawk doesn't really offer.

SWS definitely falls behind in character customization, though. You could determine your skater's stats, change your skater's shape, and even level up and improve those base stats in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. In SWS, all you can improve is your board and your outfits. There also doesn't seem to be any way to switch between players. If there is one, it's hidden well enough for it to be almost impossible to find.

There are lots of similarities between the two as well. Both SWS and Tony Hawk allow for jump moves, flips, and grinds using a separate set of buttons for movement and turning on the moves, they both have missions that you can beat for cash, they both have multiple areas to explore (although Tony Hawk has more), and they both have a shop where you can purchase new gear to customize your skater/snowboarder.

However, Shaun White Snowboarding has a few glaring problems with it. First, the game is not well localized to the Macintosh. The keyboard controls are hard to use and mostly unintuitive, the menus are slow to navigate using the mouse, and you can't even play the game easily unless you have a full keyboard with numpad. You can't customize the controls, just switch control sets. As such, if you don't have a numpad, four key buttons will always be outside your reach. Seeing as most laptops tend to be without one, you're forced to either connect a gamepad or an external keyboard to play. It's pretty obvious that the game was ported with the Xbox 360 controller in mind.

The second problem is actually due to the realism of the game, ironically. You can't go back and redo a certain area of the hill without either walking, which takes a while, or snowboarding down to the lift, which also takes a little while. This is more of an annoyance than anything, but it gets in the way of properly enjoying yourself in a few areas. For example, about midway between the top of a lift and the bottom, there was a stretch of grinding edges laid out in a way that allowed you to jump from one to the other. I wanted to get a really good multiplier by doing tricks along it, but I kept messing up and having to slowly trudge back up to the start and try again. It would've been nice to have a snowmobile or something following along to speed things up.

Lastly, whenever you get a special wipeout you start where you were when you started boarding before the wipeout. This is particularly annoying when you climb up as high as you could above the board lifts and start boarding down, only to get hit by an avalanche. The avalanche occurs every time you go down unless you walk, which forces you to walk all the way down or get stuck in an endless loop of avalanches.


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