Genre: Racing
Year: 1998
Developed by: Racdym
Published by: Atlus
Platforms: N64
Feeling Like: That’s a Big Snowman

I’m not a huge fan of lamenting the past. Oh sure, I love talking about nostalgia and how great things were back in the day (or is it MY day? Am I old enough to say that yet?), but I’m not so foolish to to pretend games nowadays aren’t, for the most part, superior. Technology gets better over time, design gets better, expectations get higher, standards are set and a history forms. C’est la vie.

BUT I will absolutely lambaste the decision for most modern games to abandon couch co-op or split screen. Speaking frankly, it fucking sucks. No, I won’t accept how consoles can’t handle it because the graphics are too advanced (looking at you, Halo 5), or how online infrastructure is so good that it’s easy to get a group of friends together without leaving the door. Half the fun IS leaving the door and going to a buddy’s and renting…hmm, what’s this? Snowboard something? Who cares, is it four player split screen? Yup, says so right on the box. Boom, rented.

How hard a concept is that to grasp? It’s not, but it’s clear developers don’t love the idea of people sharing their games. Less sales, and all that. Less appeal, if you ask me, but I get it. Multiplayer on the way out. But there was a time, a simpler time (there’s that “back in my day bullshit right on queue!”) where nearly EVERY N64 game had some kind of multiplayer. If it wasn’t four players, it sure as hell was two players because who is going to rent a single player game only on a Friday night with a bunch of your friends?

Pictured: Four player split screen. Not pictured: 15 Frames Per Second

1080 Snowboarding meets Mario Kart 64 is the safest explanation, but it also had a few unique hooks that I appreciate to this day. I liked how you had to spend money in order to use special abilities, which you could collect by grabbing coins (Mario Kart) or performing tricks (1080). I also thought the way a lap ended was hilarious; upon reaching the bottom of the track, your character went into this weird transition where you would take the ski lift back up. Those hot on your trail politely waited their turn. You couldn’t be attacked during this, and you couldn’t attack others. I always found the forced truce totally unnatural looking, although the brief respite from the action was always appreciated.

After nearly 20 years though, the star of the show is the theme of the “Big Snowman” map. It is something else. It didn’t click with me when I originally heard it in the seventh grade, but that’s because I was a moron. This ditty sounds like the perfect love child of a Kirby and Mario Kart game and is executed flawlessly. It starts out innocently enough with this weirdly mechanical twang with a slow, playful theme that’s present, but not inspiring. That comes at 47 seconds, when the melody decides, screw this, I’m the best song in the game, I’m breaking free, peaking at one minute and keeps on providing auditory awesome until your race is over. It’s still on my playlist today and, let’s be honest, the only reason Snowboard Kids is even on the list.

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