Shaun White hosts one of my favorite sports’ games for Wii — Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip. You control a character with ease via the Wii Remote (or Balance Board) to shred down the slopes and perform gnarly tricks. Thus, I was a bit surprised to find White’s successor and secondary hobby, Shaun White Skateboarding, a bit tough to handle.
The new title introduces Nunchuk control to maneuver White’s board, with the Wii Remote responsible for tricks and balance while grinding. In addition, players are not just zipping down a predetermined path or grabbing air in half-pipes– you have a full 360-degree world to maneuver. This new sense of freedom comes at a cost, as the easy-to-understand controls are traded for a much steeper learning curve.
I struggled for a bit figuring out the proper way to perform tricks in the air. This problem will most likely be solved with more playtime, but the barrier to entrance between the snowboarding and skateboarding titles is significant. Even so, there are some clever mechanics placed in the world to combat frustration.
For one, Shaun (or any other boarder) will kick off walls and obstacles, avoiding a sudden stop in the action. The animation is seamless, proving that the visuals of the former titles transition smoothly to the asphalt. Shaun White Skateboarding also introduces various cues through levels that add color and transformation to tracks. This over-the-top graphical feature happens in real time and hopefully creates some intelligent challenges throughout the game.
There is a lot left to uncover after playing the demo briefly. For one, it will be interesting to find out if Balance Board controls will be as heralded for this title as it was for White’s snowboarding adventures. Many people find the feature a make-or-break part of the experience. Sadly, I did not have enough time to get feet-on time with the title. And I also am curious how entertaining the multiplayer modes are and how addictive online leaderboards will be.
Ubisoft plans to ship Shaun White Skateboarding for Wii this fall.