Welcome to February: mid-winter, if you will. Or, if you're in the north-eastern quadrant of the United States this year, "mid-Autumn", as the temperatures fluctuate between 20 and 45 degrees and snow is as elusive as yetis.
However that doesn't mean we can't have some seasonal fun! This week I'm going to look at one of my two chilly cartridges of winter-themed semi-sports excitement! So pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sprinkle in a few marshmallows, sit back, sit up rapidly as you've spilled hot chocolate on your lap, go to the kitchen and spend a few seconds deciding whether to use napkins or the dish towel to wipe the spilled hot chocolate off your sweatpants, wipe the spilled hot chocolate off your sweat pants with paper towels, eat a fist-full of marshmallows to make up for the fact your hot chocolate marshmallows are now covered with lint from the carpet, wander back to your computer, remember there's a run-on sentence in the article you were about to read, and sit back and relax to read on about more WINTER FUN than you can shake a ski-pole at!
This Week: XTREME...ly mundane!
The game we're going to talk about is Tommy Moe's Winter Extreme: Skiing & Snowboarding
. Or, if you live somewhere where the name "Tommy Moe" wouldn't send you rushing to the store to buy a shoddy down-hill skiing game (like Europe or Japan or anywhere after 1998 where people were sickened by the phrase "extreme" as a thinly-veiled synonym for "gnarly"), it might be called something else, like Val d'Isère Skiing and Snowboarding
, for example.
However, from the moment you load up this game, you know you're in for a
treat video game! You start with the camera point-of-view flying down a snowy mountain in glorious mode-7 vomit-o-vision...and when you press START, you're treated to a full photograph of some dude on a mountain on either a snowboard, or a big ski, or perhaps just a giant down-hill clown shoe (the picture is a bit obscured by a spray of snow).
Actually, speaking of "obscured", the whole picture is mostly hidden behind the menus. I managed to snap a mostly-clear screenprint of that fellow, but you can still see a lot of the post-"ONE PLAYER / TWO PLAYER" menu there. Who is this individual? Is it the mysterious "Tommy Moe"? Whatever we can or can't say about him, we can probably guess that he's EXTREME
What is also EXTREME is the fact that this is TWO action-packed games in one! You can choose from the classic, classical time-honored sport/leg-breaking facilitation activity of SKIING:
Or if you prefer, if you're a crazy young buck with a devil-may-care attitude (attiDUDE?) to the world and all its "rules", you may fling yourself down the mountain on a TOTALLY TUBULAR SNOWBOARD!
(Skiing and snowboarding differ mainly in what the bottom half of your character's sprite looks like).
Now that we've got the "review" part of the game out of the way, let's talk a little bit about my favorite parts of "alternative sports games", CUSTOMIZING YOUR CHARACTER!
Ok, so you can't customize your character. The Faceless Snowboarder always wears the same horrible winter-wear get-up, and the goofy Skier always looks like he's skiing away from a Where's Waldo family reunion.
However, there are a few nice things about the game. For example, it doesn't confuse you by making the skiing game different from the snowboarding game: once you've mastered one, you'll find the other works exactly the same.
Also there's some nice "visual effects" on the mountain: various parts of the mountain are "sunny", making the screen entirely washed out. Other parts receive some kind of blue glare, tinting the whole screen blueish:
Oh yeah -- unfortunately, as is the tradition in skiing games, you spend quite a bit of the time looking up the business end of your in-game ski avatar. Sorry, it's the law.
Finally, some parts of the mountain have evidently been the peeing ground for hundreds and hundreds of husky sled-dogs, causing the living rock to take a sickly yellowish hew.
But back on the topic of customization: there isn't really any. You can't even re-name your character from the stuffy "PLAYER 1" (or, presumably "PLAYER 2"). But the game does have a number of different and exciting play-modes, which, in keeping with the differentiation between "Skiing" and "Snowboarding", are designed so they play virtually identically.
There is a "free ride" kind of mode, where you can race down the mountain at your own pace (until you run out of time before you get to the next checkpoint and have to stop), or there's various "go between flags" slalom modes (until you get to the finish line and come in last place for falling down too much while running into the trees and oddly-shaped hillocks on the side of the track).
But the difference is, when you "compete", you get to see how you ranked against random other names with a series of digits after them! Not only that, but in keeping with the EXTREME nature of the competition, there's a whole crowd of people just freaking the hell out beside the scoreboard!
But I guess coming in eighth of eight is pretty impressive, especially after industry-standard names like "ALEXIS", and you knew going in that PHILTESS totally had second place all locked up.
Yup, just an exciting day of adrenaline-junkie-fodder, swoopin' down the slopes and then back to the the ski lodge and...HOLY CRAP, IS THAT SKELETOR ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE FANS? What treachery could the Lord of Snake Mountain be planning?
I'm on to you, Skeletor! I ski and/or snowboard with EYES IN THE BACK OF MY HEAD!
— carlmarksguy, 2012-02-10