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Snowboard Kids 2

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Reviewed by The second outing of the Snowboard Kids from Racdyme is out, after a much anticipated wait. NOT! This is definitely one of the sleeper hits of the year, only being advertised for the past two months. Unfortunately, this version is not much different from the first. Everything from the music to the characters to the graphics are extremely similar. Luckily, there are a few innovations, most notably the town to move through and the varied courses. First off, the graphics. While they are similar to the original, there are a few advancements, such as the more detailed characters, and the all around solidness of the polygons. The courses themselves have tiny details that make you just go, "Cool, that's neat." While the game suffers from a bit of slowness in the speed department, it more than makes up for it with the awesome frame-rate that stays super-smooth. A detail that caught my eye was that each character has four different clothing combinations. One for summer, one for winter, one for Halloween, and one for space. While the characters are in the space and Halloween costumes, they look much better than they do in the normal Summer or Winter costumes. Another graphical detail that is interesting is the lifts. Each one is unique to the course. While some are normal lifts, levels like Turtle Island have turtles that carry you to the top of the hill, while the space level has a wacked out teleport. The music is almost exactly like the first one's, except it has slight, and I mean slight, changes. But, the original music was good, so the loss isn't that extreme. The music is happy and funny, but it gets appropriately scary in the Haunted House and spacy in the Space Level. The gameplay itself is very good, with varied courses. The characters however, are not as varied. They go from a fat kid with a big nose to a small girl with a......big nose. There is an extra character added to the group this time, and there are three hidden characters. I have earned two of them according to Nintendo Power and the instruction booklet, but I don't know how to access them! The courses are really inventive. Some are just really clever, while others are downright incredible! An example of a creative one is the Haunted Mansion. In this level, towards the end, you actually ride UPHILL! And while you're in the Turtle Island level, half of the course is UNDERWATER! Both of these defy the laws of physics, but are way cool. The graphics on the courses are good, but the space level and Wendy's House take the cake by far. In the space level, there is a particular tube that you go through that is lighted, with the lights coming towards you! It's really amazing, and hard to describe. In Wendy's House, you're shrunken, and every detail is large. There's even one corner where a large box of candy spews...well...candy. And it looks cool. Other features are the huge statue of Linda at Linda's Castle, and the frozen elephant in Ice Town. The control is good, and different for each character, and the button setup is nice. There is an added feature, which is the look behind button, using R. It's a very nice feature that can help you. The buttons and responses are all finely tuned, but I found it difficult to get up after falling, since you almost always face the opposite direction. Minor annoyance, though. The courses aren't really very hard, but the items used during them more than make up for it. I found it to be lots of fun trying to beat my opponent to the items, then letting them get the lead and whacking them with 'em! Being able to hold two different items at once is way cool, but it was a feature in the original too. There's also a bit of a handicap when it comes to items, but it makes it fair. One of the best features of this game is the town. I know this is merely presentation, but it gives the game almost an RPG feel, which I love. In the town, you can go to several different shops to get your board painted, buy new boards, and play three minigames. And the best part about the minigames is that they are presented in such a way that they're NOT minigames! One is a race to get to school before 8:30, another is a part-time job where you deliver newspapers, and the trick game is presented as a trick festival to earn money. This takes away from the "Oh great, we're gonna play minigames," feel of the first Snowbord Kids. Unfortunately, the kiddie presentation of this game will turn off the "Mature" gamers out there who want to play macho shoot-em-up games, but I think that a sign of maturity is the fact that someone in their late teens is willing to play a game because it's fun, rather than because of the presentation. Overall, this game is essentially the first Snowboard Kids in a prettier package, and a little more polish. Fans of the first looking for something radically different will be disappointed, but people willing to play it not knowing what to expect will have fun.

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