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Boarding: The Ultimate Snowboarding Adventure
(Chaos Media)


"Leaps and Bounds are Set in the First QB Snowboarding game!"

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!

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
(Very Good)
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.

Sound/Music (n.)
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 vv
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.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
(Very Poor) 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.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
(Very Poor) 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

Players 1 player Genre: Arcade/Snowboarding Game
Rating To solve: N/A Final Rating: 14/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tips
wTo run Boarding with sound effects and music, run "BOARDING.EXE". This may work only on newer PCs.
wTo run Boarding with sound effects and no music, run "BOARDING.EXE", then press Escape while Direct Sound is loading.
wTo run Boarding with music and no sound effects, run "NOSFX.EXE".

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