Family Ski and Snowboard • Page 2

Quite good, on balance.

As in the original game, there's a free-roaming snow resort to explore. You can muck about on the slopes at your own pace, or take part in races, trick competitions, mogul events and so on. There are plenty of characters to have tedious text-based conversations with, from ski instructors and tour guides to people who need your help to find their friend. Up to four players can hoon around via split-screen, but it can be difficult to stay together if you're of varying abilities.

It's all very nice but once again, it's a bit unstructured. Those who prefer linear progression to open-world exploration might feel a bit lost. You do get to earn rewards and unlock new goodies as you play, but in a random fashion. Plus, having to navigate your way across flat stretches of slope just to reach your chosen event gets tiresome.

If you just want to go for a bit of a ride, you'll enjoy the all-new Ride the Mountain mode. Here you get to ski or board down natural slopes free from artificial ramps, ski lifts, competitions and bobble-headed fetch-quest-givers. There's no music, and only a few other characters can be seen on the slopes. It's a much calmer, more relaxing experience, and there's something quite lovely about standing on a snowy peak, gazing at the mountain range in the distance and preparing to bomb down a sheer drop and right into your mate.

For those who are more about the bombing than the gazing there's the Competition Mode. The races and slalom challenges are ideal if you want to keep it simple, and brilliant fun. There are also trick competitions, such as the half-pipe and mogul run, which provide a real challenge for more skilled gamers.

Thankfully you don't have to do any tedious single-player unlocking - all the events and all the courses are available from the start. There's a decent number of both to choose from, and once again up to four players can take part. However, as is also the case with the other modes, only three of you can play if one person is using a Wii balance board.

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You can replace Namco's avatars with Miis, who look cute in the funky ski wear. The music's good, too.

One top of this, there's still no option to connect more than one Wii balance board. Seeing as every other person in the world appears to have bought Wii Fit, it's not far-fetched to imagine you might know someone else with the same peripheral. There are probably some fantastically technical reasons why it's just not possible to make the game work with two boards, but it's still a shame.

In other areas, however, Family Ski and Snowboard does improve on the previous title. Ride the Mountain is a nice addition, as are the extra competition events. The snowboarding may be the same as skiing only sideways, but it's fun to do and frequently hilarious to watch, especially if you're using a balance board.

What's more, Family Ski and Snowboard improves on real-life snowboarding. It's sociable rather than solitary, and there's not a single nasty or brutish thing about it. The good selections of courses and events mean it's not too short, and it's an ideal alternative to real winter sports if you're poor. But most importantly, it's not rubbish.

7 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy Family Ski and Snowboard Ellie Gibson Quite good, on balance. 2009-02-26T13:15:00+00:00 7 10

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