It does bug me a bit that there hasn’t been a new SSX game released over the past few years. Sure, we can still enjoy the classics, but there’s clearly a void for snowboarding games that isn’t getting filled up by AAA developers. Fortunately, we have the indies, and while it’s lacking in arcade-style flair, Grand Mountain Adventure Wonderlands is still a downhill breeze.
Whether you prefer a snowboard or skis, you’re given a wide variety of courses to take, using old-fashioned ski lifts to get there. What’s more, the world opens up with each new race you complete, with a bevy of courses available. The sky-high camera angle can take a little bit of getting used to (behind the rider, it is not), but overall, this is a memorable ride that’ll fulfill your slope-riding needs.
It May Not Be Tricky, But Grand Mountain Adventure Wonderlands Is Enjoyable
What it lacks in an elaborate, fuel-powered trick system, Grand Mountain Adventure Wonderlands makes up for with simple, easy-to-grasp gameplay. You start by learning the basics with steering as you make your way through slalom lanes. As you go on, however, you can perform other tricks, in an effort to jump further and look a little stylish while you do it.
The game starts off breezily enough, but you’ll soon be learning the ropes when it comes to adapting a faster completion time. This includes finding the right places to get through and avoiding traffic from other skiers in the lane. The trick system adds to this as well, even if it’s not chock full of superhuman moves. It doesn’t need to be since this is a representative of real skiing and snowboarding. Well, kind of.
There’s a lot to explore here as well. 12 different mountains are available, each with accessible ways to get there. It can take a little bit to navigate to some of the tougher courses, but it pays off with perseverance and, more importantly, joy. You’ll have fun with this one, even if it does take a little getting used to compared to, say, the craziness of SSX.
The View Is Nice From Up Here
We mentioned above that the game utilizes a sky-high, top-down view. This is both a positive and a negative. On the downside, your skier looks microscopic and it can be hard to see what they’re doing. However, on the plus side, you really get a good idea of the scope on the mountain. What’s more, it shows you areas that you can explore, should you be daring enough.
It also looks great. While the atmosphere doesn’t change much from snow-capped mountains, it’s still a neat presentation. The powder marks you leave are authentic, the shadows on trees and lifts are sweet, and the whole area is really wide open.
On top of that, the audio, while in contrast to SSX, is quite promising. This includes relaxing music that makes it a pleasure to go down the mountain at your own pace. On top of that, the sound effects are just right, from your board hitting the powder to chimes letting you know if you successfully get through checkpoints. Miss one? Not to worry, you can do a quick restart and get back in the race.
There’s also local multiplayer, where you can race against each other on the big screen. It’s not bad at all, but it’s really hard to see what’s happening in handheld mode. Stick with racing alongside others at home if you can, you’ll be better off.
Fresher Than Powder
While Grand Mountain Adventure Wonderlands is different than whatever SSX has to offer, it still clicks. It leans a bit more towards realism, while keeping fun gameplay completely intact. Not to mention, its presentation is really good, despite the distant camera on your riders. Finally, there’s a lot to do, justifying the somewhat high price ($35) for the game. This one’s well worth taking a run with, especially if you’ve been itching to get your butt down a snow-covered mountain. (Speaking of which, Nintendo, how about some 1080 Snowboarding love already?)
VIBE RATING: 8/10
Need another retro racer? Enjoy our look back at Mario Kart 7!
Streamer and Cosplay Enthusiast