The Wii’s motion centered control scheme has been previewed to make gaming that much more intuitive, accessible, and fun. In some of the early games of the system, it has definitely succeeded, while in some, it has been more frustrating than intuitive. EA’s latest entry in its popular SSX series, Blur, has managed to do both. There is no doubt a steep learning curve to this game. You will have to spend a lot of time in order to master the controls, and you will still feel like you could be better at it. However, once you do master the system, it is quite rewarding and addicting in a certain way.
SSX Blur sets the standard pretty high for arm-swinging fun. The controls, though, again frustrating and hard to master, are a joy to use once you get the hang of them. To steer your snowboarder, you simply tilt the nunchuck controller left and right. To jump, you press A, and to do tricks in the air, you swing the Wii-remote around in the air like a crazy fool. Circles will do spins, forward and backward will do flips, etc. When turning, you can also use the analog stick to give your boarder some extra lean on those turns, allowing you to turn more sharply. Once in mid-air, you can hit A or B to quit the current trip and begin a new one, or pull the Z button and tilt the nunchuck to perform grab tricks.
Just like in previous versions, you’ll gradually gain points until your trick meter is full, at which time you can unleash your uber-tricks. To perform an uber-trick, once in the air you must hold the A button and actually draw a shape in the air with your remote, which you want your player to perform. It works reasonably well, but can be very frustrating at times until you master it.
This game is definitely very rewarding. It’s hard, no question about it. Stringing together combos, avoiding obstacles, and successfully pulling off big uber-tricks is not easy, and will have you pulling your hair out, but I can’t stress enough that once you figure it out for good, this is by far the most rewarding SSX title to date.
Visually, SSX is a treat to look at, from the menu presentations, to the style, to the graphics on the slopes. The presentation is pretty basic, but is pleasant and friendly. You won’t have any trouble navigating around the game. The cartoony characters you’ve come to know and love are here, with quite the kiddish look this time around. This makes for an accessible and inviting experience. The snow looks great, but there is a lot of it. This is both good and bad. I found myself missing some of the over-the-top environments from the past games: lit-up cities, etc. We miss out on some of that, but what is there looks and plays great, and there really is nothing to complain about. The animations all flow very nicely. You won’t run into any hiccups here.
Blur is also a treat to listen to, as this time around we have an all-new DJ on the slopes. The music is catchy and fitting, and it even gets more and more intense the better you do and the more tricks you pull off. You’ll still get some of the old music in the menus, but hey, that’s life. The sound effects are what you’ve come to expect, and do the job, as is also the case with the voices.
The career mode is back, and as usual you will be climbing higher and higher up the mountain in your quest to conquer it. You can collect uber-tokens of sorts, and it will take you a while to get them all. You’ll get money to upgrade all your clothes, gear, and skills as well. It should take about 15-20 hours to complete it all, and the career mode is a great experience.
SSX Blur is a fantastic first entry for the series on the Wii. EA has done a lights-out job, and for SSX fans, this is a great sign of awesome things to come. The game is flat-out hard, and again, it will take you quite some time to master. When you do, though, it is just plain fun. This is an easy recommend for any SSX fan, or anyone with a Wii, for that matter.