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Boarding: The Ultimate Snowboarding
"Leaps and Bounds are Set in the First QB Snowboarding
Long before Microsoft
contemplated the game monstrosity known as the X-Box, they were releasing
simple and surprising fun game applications for Windows. While Minesweeper
and Solitaire are the most dominant games on Windows operating systems,
Microsoft SkiFree has always been one of their best.
Now Chaos Media has
done a complete makeover of Skifree for QB! Instead of skiing, grab a snowboard
and get ready to travel downhill with real-time physics. Land stunts and
combinations for points, but watch out for trees and rocks! You never know
if you're going to fly high or wipe out!
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
|Wow-- Chaos Media really knows how to
push QB to new levels here. Usually, QB games that are inspired by other
video games turn out to be just a notch below expectations, but Chaos Media
clearly wipes that slate clean in the graphics department. All the graphics
in the game are original and highly detailed. You can see the rendered
trees, the various snowboarder frames, and even the varying elevations
in the snow.
But Chaos Media goes one step further than
that. Tiny details were thrown just to add more to the atmosphere of the
game. You can see the snow falling as you snowboard, along with the trail
your snowboard leaves as you descend down the hill (it was particularly
strange to see that the entire screen was filled with snowboard marks after
driving down the hill for a very long time). Chaos Media even threw in
some shadows for free, all without sacrificing the game's speed or gameplay.
Very good job.
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
|Boarding is one of the first games to
use DirectSound for QBasic, which appears to be a new technology that combines
Windows audio with QB games. Unfortunately, DirectSound has conflicts with
the graphics library Chaos Media used, DirectQB. The result is that it's
very hard to hear the music and sound effects at once while playing the
game. I've tried playing Boarding on three different computers, all with
mixed results. In some instances, the computer would play the music without
the sound, and more often I would get the sound effects but no sound. If
you're a little perturbed by this and would rather have the guarantee that
Boarding only has music or only has sound, you can download a patch at
Chaos Media's website. You can go there by clicking here.
|Gameplay (n.)The precision of control
and involvement of character within its universe
|Average. First of all, I can't compliment
Chaos Media enough for their excellent physics engine. The acceleration
of the snowboarder going down the hill is very realistic, right down to
the quick slowing down that occurs when your snowboarder crashes head-to-head
with a boulder. There was even attention paid to vertical physics; depending
on where you jump, your snowboarder will leap at a perfect arc, making
it easy to know when to push the board down for a safe landing.
But while the control is very precise,
the gameplay involved in Boarding is a little ambiguous. The purpose of
the game is to get as many points as possible, by jumping into the air
and performing tricks. You lose points if you hit a rock, you hit a tree,
or if you fail to get your board back in a position for a safe landing
while trying to do a trick combination.
Getting points however, doesn't really
serve much of a purpose other than to get your name on the high score list.
Boarding doesn't get more challenging and you can travel at your own pace
since there's no major obstacles, objectives, or time limits to worry about.
This lack of purpose is what really hurts Boarding in the gameplay as well
as in other departments.
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
||While inspired by Microsoft SkiFree is
Boarding's inspiration, one thing these two games have in common is that
neither have a story. When run, Boarding simply initializes DirectSound,
the title screens pop up, and the game starts immediately.
|Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience
can be repeated again and again
|Good. By default, Boarding: The Ultimate
Snowboarding Adventure is the only and therefore best snowboarding game
available for QB. But Chaos Media does show how a game like this in QB
is supposed to be done. In terms of replay value, stunts are the big plus
in this game. You can get a real high out of mastering the Indy grab and
flipping techniques. Also, the various jump heights are also a big exclamation
point on Boarding, since the ramps give you an opportunity to do stunt
combinations. In other words, being able to do a 900 degree/Indy Grab combination
in mid-air like they allow you to do in Boarding ought to be the standard
for QB snowboarding games to come.
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought
||There's no Game Over in Boarding. You
just keep snowboarding down an endless hill until you decide to quit the
game. The only real challenge in Boarding is learning how to control your
snowboarder. The physics of Boarding are so precise that you can't rely
on certain button combinations to save you. You have to take into account
the speed and all the objects around you. So you might get discouraged
at first if you get negative points for failing to land your jumps. But
once you learn the timing, your technique will never go away. It gets very
easy to jump on ramps, do your combinations, and earn tons of points.
|Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
|It would be unfair to say that Boarding
is one of those games that have great graphics, then it goes downhill from
there. That certainly isn't true. I'm reminded of the now immortal Wetspot
game series by Angelo Mottola. It's very difficult to find a QB enthusiast
who won't revel about Wetspot 2's awesome graphics design and great gameplay.
But people often forget that before Wetspot 2 was the original Wetspot,
a game that has the great gameplay but lacking 16-color EGA graphics.
Boarding faces a similar problem, but this
time the graphics design is great but the gameplay hasn't fully blossomed.
Yet there are signs that the gameplay could be much deeper; the real physics
built into Snowboarding and the control you have over the snowboarder is
second-to-none. But best of all, doing the various stunts (especially after
flying into the air) can give a game a good fun factor score by itself.
What Boarding needs is more game modes.
While freestyling is pretty fun at first, there's really no way to test
your skills. It's great that Chaos Media managed to emulate and even surpass
Microsoft's Ski Free, but there's a feeling that Boarding could be so much
more. What about racing with computer players in various courses, or even
a speed mode where you try to get to the bottom of the hill in the fastest
time? Actually, with games like Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Coolboarders, SSX,
and 1080 degrees Snowboarding in the videogame market, Boarding could greatly
benefit from having game modes similar to those games. If Chaos Media can
make that possible and maintain the speed, graphics, and gameplay that
Boarding already has, then I'll see you all at the slopes.
Boarding: The Ultimate Snowboarding
Adventure Reviewed by QBShire
||To solve: N/A Final Rating: 14/35
To download this game, click here.
run Boarding with sound effects and music, run "BOARDING.EXE". This may
work only on newer PCs.
run Boarding with sound effects and no music, run "BOARDING.EXE", then
press Escape while Direct Sound is loading.
run Boarding with music and no sound effects, run "NOSFX.EXE".
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