Snowboard Kids Plus – What’s up with the Playstation Version?

Snowboard Kids. Yeah, I used to play this
quite a lot as a kid on my Nintendo 64. I never knew there was a Playstation version
though. It’s called Snowboard Kids Plus and was only ever released in Japan. Snowboard
Kids 2 came out a few months later for most regions, and that one wasn’t even released
in Europe at all, so I guess the first one just didn’t sell enough. There are a handful of changes to Snowboard
Kids in its Playstation release, but first I’ll explain what Snowboard Kids even is. As the title and the gameplay footage give
away already, it’s a game about snowboarding. It’s not a “Snowboard” game in that
sense though, I would say it is a lot more similar to a Kart Racer like Mario Kart than
a proper snowboard game like 1080° Snowboarding. There is a selection of boards, character’s
have different stats, and there are stunts, which are surprisingly enough things that
Mario Kart lacked until years later, but the overall style of the game is very unrealistic
and it plays similar to a non-sports racing game. There are items you can use as well…
like bombs. Can you imagine bombs in a snowboarding sports game? Now that I think about it that
sounds awesome, someone get on it. Either way, it’s mostly a racing game with
items, but there are also modes like time attack and a stunt mode. Most of the tracks
are appropriately themed, but there’s also some silly stuff to break up the monotony
of snow. Alright, now to the Plus version on Playstation.
From what I can tell, the graphics look a lot better in certain parts. It looks like
there are more, or at least more detailed textures, and the effects of the snowboard
trails all look a lot cleaner and more modern. However, the draw distance seems just as bad.
Instead of gradually loading things further away as you get closer like on the N64, the
Playstation version renders chunks of scenery at once, which makes the game look a bit choppy.
And while we’re at choppy, the game also seems to run a bit slower. I’m not just
talking about frame rate here either, the entire games seems to be slow. From the menus
to the speed of the game. You also can’t play with four players any more, only two,
multitap or not. The music is also different from the original – from what I can tell it’s
partially rearranged and using rendered audio files instead of using midi – some people
say it sounds worse, but the music in Snowboard kids has never been notable to me. Despite these things it’s not all bad. New
with this version is a feature that lets a bot take over your controls after you crossed
the finish line and need to get to the lift. That’s fairly convenient and is usually
helpful, but sometimes you just want to cause a big crash or play it strategically. In that
case you can turn the feature off, and options are always nice. There are also four new characters to play
as, and they’re just as nicely designed as the original cast. Thanks to the Playstation’s
use of CDs instead of cartridges, there’s a fully animated intro sequence. There are
also cutscenes,well, “cutscenes” – some Deviant-art grade stills with voice acting
and a text box. And to top it all off, there is character customization. In addition to
being able to customize your board, you can now also dye yo ur character’s hair and
pick from a small selection of new outfits for each character. All in all, it’s still snowboard kids. The
additional content would make this the best version of the game, but since it also took
a few steps back, both versions are still to be considered. Snowboard Kids is a fun series of games. Even
if only for the charming characters and levels when playing alone, I come back to this every
once in a while and have a few hours of fun.

Antonio Breitenberg

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