The Dreamcast is a new system with a very small amount of games available in comparison to the other systems on the market. What does this mean to game developers? Numerous generic genres to fill. In the case of Cool Boarders it means that a company associated with snow boarding (Uep Systems) can be the first to release a game to fill this genre and since there are no other snow boarding games on the system, they have no competition. Unfortunately this leads to a disappointing game that is all style and no substance.
First and foremost, there has never been a snow boarding game ever that has had such breathtaking detail and luscious graphics. Each course is very long and involved possessing multiple routes and plenty of jumps and challenges. Stalactites falling from the ceiling, hairline turns on cliffs, and city rooftops are all obstacles that you will have to navigate to win. Each course features its own style and feel and all of the courses are very diverse. There is no pop-up to speak of anywhere and you will probably not be able to find any as you slide down the seamless course to the goal.
However, aside from the graphics and the course design, what you have is a very mediocre snowboarding game. It is like they spent so much time designing the courses that they forgot to put everything else in the game. There are only 6 racers and 9 boards from which to choose each having its own special strengths and weaknesses. After choosing your player, there are two that's right two ways to play. Either race the first course (the only one available at start up) or race the halfpipe. That's it. In the Freeride mode there is no other racer on the course except for you. Hope you like racing time because that is all that there is against you.
Racing alone is not the only thing that is lacking in this game. All of the other racers have already finished and left these lofty records for you to attempt to break. You must come in at least third place in time, tricks, or total score in order to advance. Otherwise, you are stuck racing the same course over and over again. This is not so bad because it gives you a chance to see all of the other routes and shortcuts on each track, but does get aggravating when you realize the impossibility of breaking the highest records.
A snowboarding game would not be complete without the ability to do tricks and combos. Cool Boarders is no different. Learning how to do the tricks took a little while since the manual is totally in Japanese, although the game is in English. Once I got it down it was pretty easy. There is a jump button and two grab buttons. In the air you must try to perform as many combinations as you can before landing to score the big points. The biggest flaw that I found was that directional pad controls which way you are spinning and where you grab your board at the same time. This is a fault that can make for some very bad landings. Other than that, it was tricks galore especially in the halfpipes, which are nice and long.
After playing this for a while the nice graphics and cool levels will begin to lose their appeal. The backgrounds will all pretty much blend together, and in the end what you will be left with is a mediocre unoriginal snowboarding game that does not have any options and is not that much fun. It has nothing new to offer and nothing is lost by not playing it. But I guess all of that does not matter if you want a snow-based game for Dreamcast because it's the only one.
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