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Ten-Eighty Avalanche Package Art
 GENRE
  Extreme Sports
 DEVELOPER
  NST
 PUBLISHER
  Nintendo
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-4
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Ten-Eighty Avalanche

1080 Avalanche is the sequel to the best snowboarding game of the previous generation, 1080 Snowboarding. After a lengthy development period, 1080 Avalanche was released on December 1st, 2003. This game was being made by Left Field until they were axed and NST picked up where they left off.

Unfortunately for Nintendo (but fortunately for us), EA was also finishing their third uber-extreme snowboarding game this generation when 1080 was being completed, and therefore setting some standard that 1080 Avalanche can be compared to. However, this review won’t be a point-by-point breakdown of SSX3 versus 1080.

visuals

1080 Avalanche is a mixed bag of visuals; some parts of the game look really spectacular while others are bland. For instance, since there are only two characters in every race (except multiplayer), the snowboarder’s clothes will ripple in the wind and snow will stick to them after crashing. However, some of the tracks, especially the beginner tracks, are very simple and are sparsely populated.

The graphics lend well to a blazing sense of speed. Combining the clothes flapping in the wind with subtle wind streaks and also snow blasting in your face makes racing very rewarding at times. The avalanches are the best visuals in the game, although you won’t see half of the avalanche because it will be behind you.

The amount of detail in the levels compared to the characters is at least somewhat balanced as opposed to a couple of first generation games by Nintendo that will go unnamed (*cough, Smash Bros. Melee, *cough, Luigi’s Mansion). If you do play this game, make sure you play through the more awe-inspiring expert tracks as missing them would be like missing Future Fun Land from Diddy Kong Racing, or going to the washroom during the best part of a movie.

audio

The audio in 1080 is mellow for the most part, perhaps intended to be like a laid back day carving powder and viewing the beautiful scenery at a mountain. The game features licensed tracks mostly from low-key bands except for Finger Eleven. Some of the tracks without lyrics are a bit more exhilarating during the races but licensed music does help sell games.

The best sound effect in the game would have to be Rob Haywood roaring as he hits a pedestrian out of his way automatically. Besides that, the best sound effects are during the avalanche sequences at which point the audio helps make the experience more intense and nerve-racking instead of those casual avalanche Sundays. The game also features a surround sound option, which is becoming standard in high quality games these days.

gameplay

The heart of 1080 Avalanche is the match race mode which is comprised of one-on-one races to the finish. There are three difficulty settings and higher difficulties include tougher AI and harder tracks too. The race length ranges from 45 seconds to two minutes generally. If you have played any of the SSX games, the beginner races will be over before you know it. Races feature branching paths, with the best paths being the ones that cause an avalanche or destroying a building (for the purposes of entertainment value of course). The last track of a match race is a race against time with an avalanche at your back, which can be a formidable opponent.

1080 Avalanche’s gameplay improved over its N64 predecessor in leaps and bounds. No longer is the main challenge trying to stay alive while reaching the finish line even though there still is a health bar in the game. Also, landings are much easier and there is a forgiving system that lets you twirl the analog stick to regain balance. There are some places in the original 1080 that are basically impossible not to crash in but that is not the case in the sequel.

While the racing element worked out well, the trick system is not that intuitive and also too simple. It takes some mastering to link tricks since you have to wait for the character to flash green to indicate when you can perform another trick. Even jumping and landing is like a science since you have to let the jump build up while watching a meter and when you land you have to press L to absorb the shock. I know this is nothing compared to a flight simulator but c’mon, I’d like to play a game here. I must have been spoiled by SSX.

multiplayer

One of 1080’s best strengths is its multiplayer mode. Not only featuring up to four player racing, it also has LAN support. Any GameCube game that has LAN support gets kudos from me.

overall

1080 Avalanche is a game where it seems that the developers went “Hey, we could make this way better” and all of a sudden went for the extreme. The latter tracks definitely are the best part of the game as parts of levels will be train wrecks, lumber mills and city streets. At the beginning of the game, some tracks have casual skiers and snowboarders on them but why would I want to snowboard on a run that I could do in real life?

The downside of the game is simply that it is not up to par with SSX3, which is what happens when you go head to head with someone who has had two previous tries in one console generation to get it right. 1080 also leaves me with many questions, such as why can’t there be more then one opponent in a race. Overall, 1080 Avalanche does makes a lot of improvements but it would require a lot more work to compete with SSX3, the best snowboarding video game.

final score 7.0/10





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Staff Avatar Thomas Arnold
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