Developed by: Nintendo EAD
Published by: Nintendo
Feeling Like: Tricky
For somebody whose last name sounds like “Ski”, I am the worst alpine athlete ever. I’ve only downhill skied a few times and every single second was spent praying to the snow gods that I wouldn’t crash into somebody. Control of movement is non existent, my knees and back are never in tandem and I seldom get the rush people seem to enjoy when they spend unspeakable amounts of money for a lift pass, chalet amenities, ski rentals, boots, jacket, helmet, a ride up there, hotel rooms and incidentals that add up annoyingly quickly. I’m a blast a parties, by the way.
No, much like how Michael Chabon says in the introduction to the novel “The Long Ships” by Frans G. Bengtsson, “Adventure is a dish that is best eaten takeout, in the comfort of one’s own home”, I was content to never go out on a hill again. I’ll get my kicks from 1080° Snowboarding instead, thank you very much.
It’s one of the earliest N64 games and it shows; the trees, backdrops and a majority of the models are painfully edgy and pointy looking. This is going to be a pretty common issue with the first generation of three dimensions, but thankfully it doesn’t prevent any enjoyment here. On the contrary, there are some gorgeous touches that stand the test of time; the fresh powder that kicks up as you careen into a dangerous, off route shortcut still looks awesome. The trail your board leaves as you streak down the mountain is a peaceful reminder that you haven’t bailed yet, and the sound it makes is perfect.
This will be the last snowboarding game on the 500, but it’s clearly superior to Snowboard Kids in every regard, save for Big Mountain which is still the best song from an N64 snowboarding based game ever. The nighttime backdrops are breathtaking and I can definitely see the appeal in real life as you finally persuade momentum to be your ally instead of your enemy, reach a jump you never knew was there, pull off an entirely unnecessary trick over your opponent’s head and land perfectly is akin to riding on a tightrope with a bicycle missing half a wheel.
There are other touches that bump 1080° above its competition. Riders holding out their hand on a turn to maintain balance is surprisingly assuring that you’re doing the right thing, although I’m sure that’s as benign to experienced boarders as a hockey player jumping over the boards for a line change. The snow and fog may be a compromise on the draw distance, but it looks gorgeous. The tricks on the big jump and half pipe are worth a go and although I never did perform the eponymous 1080° spin, the spirit was always willing to try.
It may be the last rung on “Climbing the Ladder”, but it’ll never gain higher heights for me. The controls remain clunky and I always found tricks nearly impossible to pull off. Landing a jump was enough of a miracle for me. Making it down the slope without crashing into something on a piece of fiberglass would be unthinkable in real life for me. This is why I play games – to experience something I would never do, wearing something warm and drinking a cup of tea indoors.