Some old philosopher once described life in a lawless society as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short". That's how I feel about snowboarding. Or rather the one time I went snowboarding. And you can add "cold", "expensive" and "rubbish", by the way.
So hooray for Family Ski and Snowboard, which eliminates many of the unpleasant things about real-life winter sports. It won't cost you an arm or a leg, in either sense. The risk of serious injury from flailing your arms about while standing on a set of glorified bathroom scales is low, and at GBP 34.99 it's cheaper than going to Austria.
You don't have to leave your nice warm lounge. You don't have to wear a padded shell suit. You can talk to your friends whilst playing, even if they're better at it than you, instead of watching them whizz off down the mountain like adrenaline-crazed Eskimos leaving Grandma to die in the snow.
Atari plans to bring wintery Wii sequel Family Ski & Snowboard to Europe in February 2009.
As the title suggests, this Namco Bandai follow-up adds snowboards to the range of piste pursuits. And like Family Ski, control will be handled by the balance board, which will be turned sideways to imitate the fat uni-ski. Wiimote and nunchuk are waggled to pull off tricks.
There's more content than before: two big mountains to plummet down, littered with half-pipes and rails, plus all sorts of activities for both radical snowboarders and leisurely skiers.
The name of this game is inappropriate. True, it is about skiing. Yes, you can play it with members of your family, and because it's a Wii game it's even suitable for those who think videogames are turning people into goggle-eyed knife-wielding paedophiles. However, the words "Family Ski" do not accurately reflect what you can expect from the gaming experience.
A more accurate title would be Communal Crotch Flaying. This is because playing it involves endlessly waving the Wii remote and nunchuk up and down at a rapid rate, while at the same time unavoidably whipping one's own genitalia with the cable that links the two. So, I shall be referring to Family Ski by its more suitable title for the remainder of this review.
Communal Crotch Flaying is the first third-party title to work with the Wii balance board. If you've played Wii Fit, you'll probably have found the slalom, ski jump and snowboarding mini-games to be among the more enjoyable activities on offer, and undoubtedly a lot more fun than boring old yoga. So a balance board game with a winter sports theme sounds promising. Communal Crotch Flaying, however, doesn't quite deliver.