Windows - 1999
Description of Boarder Zone Windows
To the Slopes
To be honest, with spring finally on the horizon here in chilly Eastern Ontario, the last thing I want to do is play anything that reminds me of winter. I've had enough with the snow, sleet, and all the irritating chores that accompany them. My shovel and car brush have been put away and I'm not getting them out until I can flip the calendar over to November. Got it?
Apparently some people don't. Infogrames (insert gratuitous putdown of the French here) published the Housemarque-designed snowboarding sim Boarder Zone at the same time as green grass began to reappear across the Western world. How's that for good timing? Taking this into account, I installed the title and sharpened my critical knives. I was all prepared to give Boarder Zone a good textual thrashing when I was stopped short by the fact that this is actually one pretty good game. Aside from the release date, I found very little to complain about here at all. This is a fun and challenging arcade snowboarding game that accurately depicts the speed and excitement of the real thing. Aside from some control issues (see below), it's a worthy rival to last year's XGames Pro Boarder (see my review ) in every way.
Downhill all the Way, Sort Of
If you've ever played a snowboarding game before, or even tuned into ten minutes of ESPN 2's XGames coverage by mistake, you'll have a pretty good idea of what Boarder Zone is all about. Namely, speed and stunts. Depending on the mode you're playing, you'll want to either be first to the bottom of the mountain or the one who impresses the invisible judges most with an array of acrobatic maneuvers. The game features five basic options for boarding wannabes to get their fix. Arcade lets you compete in a single Race, Time Attack, Pipe, Big Air, or Top 5 event. Races are simple all-out runs to the finish, and Time Attacks are practice runs of a sort that allow the boarder to experiment with different paths down the mountainside. Pipe and Big Air are all about stunts. The former lets you pull off dozens of neat tricks in a half-pipe, while the latter makes you focus all your energies on one big jump in front of a crowd. Both are a real blast, though nothing beats the pipe for sheer fun and intensity. Top 5 lets you race against the best five results in Time Attack. Championship sets up a career circuit where you progress to the top of three snowboarding clubs. Finish in the top three of the twelve competitors in your present club and you'll be promoted to a better one with superior equipment. Think of this mode as a cross between the seasonal and tournament play offered in most traditional sports titles. Success here also unlocks tracks for Arcade play. One Event Exhibition, Practice, and Multiplayer (over a LAN, not the net) are exactly what you would expect.
Six different riders are on hand to be guided through these events under your name. They're the standard "skate or go home" archetypes. Craig Tyron is too cool to be a pro rider, while Karl Ung is a former surfer, and Ulrika Reqvist was a rebel sleeping in bus stations until she heard the call of Rossignol. Oh, and one of them is a little kid named Mike Koontz. Choose him and you'll hear the announcer carefully pronounce his name every six seconds or so. Get it? Guess the French have a thing for Porky's as well as old Jerry Lewis flicks. A total of ten boards are eventually (some are locked out at the beginning) available for your riding pleasure. Each is rated according to speed, turning, and flexibility, though I didn't notice much of a difference between them while playing. All seemed a little stiff to me. There are nine tracks to conquer in the game. They're set in three different terrain types---Alpine, Forest, and Village---and are graded as Easy, Medium, or Hard.
Presentation values are very high. Boarder Zone supports resolutions as high as 1600x1200 in 32 bit color, making for some rather dynamic runs. Events can take place at all times of the day, under clear skies or in snowy conditions. Colored lighting thrown by flares set out to illuminate the courses adds another dramatic element to the proceedings. The only downside is a clipping problem that sinks boarders up to their knees in snow on occasions. Sound effects are only average. Relatively high quality is marred by irritating, adolescent-friendly crap rock (though maybe I'm just getting old) and a color commentator who sounds like Chuck Woolery on mescaline. His annoying voice isn't helped by the fact that he's given only half-a-dozen lines to repeat over and over again. Not that that really matters. A couple of exposures to "What a slam!" and "Better luck next time!" and you'll be scrambling for the mute button.
Gameplay is quite good, though the controls aren't as fluid as one would expect for an arcade game. Snow seems to pack some serious resistance here, making it necessary to push hard through even gentle turns. While this could be an accurate simulation of the real thing, it seems more like clumsy control response. Your mileage may vary. Because of this, stunts are a touch more difficult to pull off than in the aforementioned XGames Pro Boarder. That title allows you to easily flip your way through Stalefishes, Roastbeefs, Japans, Frontside Shifties, and all sorts of other tongue-twisting tricks. Here you've gotta work for it. My thumb went through quite a workout during pipe runs, and I never seemed to completely "get" what I was doing. The controls never came intuitively. Hours of practice and messing around on the most dangerous hills I could find just weren't enough.
Another question is depth. The addition of Championship mode does nothing to provide any sort of a longterm challenge. It all comes down to racing, jumping, and pulling stunts, and this can get very repetitive, very fast. If you're looking for a compelling play to get you through the next month or two, look elsewhere. If you're looking for something that you can load up to kill ten or twenty minutes here and there for the foreseeable future, your search may have just ended.
Boarder Zone is a good bet to sate those needing an wintery arcade fix. Pick up a copy if you haven't caught spring fever.
Review By GamesDomain
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
szilard_v 2020-01-26 0 point
It was one of my favourite games. I even bought an original one from Canada (I live in Hungary) in 2007 but never received the CD after paying the price plus the very high transfer tax. :D
Now it is free. :)
Michael 2019-04-26 1 point
@ElUno So far I never found a Supreme Snowboarding installation with virus. So your malware alert is false, that is almost certain.
More stuff for the game at supreme-snowboarding.eu
Rafawise 2018-09-10 1 point
I remember playing a demo of this amazing Boarder Zone in 1999/2000,what a wonderful snowboarding game...still a pretty game!!!
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