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XBLIG review: A Snowy Slalom - Destructoid

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About
A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )
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Name: A Snowy Slalom

Cost: 80 microsoft points ($1 approx)

Review Bit:
So A Snowy Slalom is a game brought to you by Manuel Cota whose previous title Merball tournament which Iíve looked at before. Now while Merball Tournament was playable I didnít have my hopes too high going into A Snowy Slalom. I thought 15 minutes and Iíd be reaching for the 34% strength winter warmer to try and erase it from my brain.

Iím glad to say I was wrong, I didnít end up reaching for it as somehow a game about skinning one of those sports generally more fun to do than watch (Unless thereís a large jump involved) somehow ended up being a game that held my attention for a full 45 minutes.

So letís start with what it does right. Firstly the game manages to create a great sense of speed without using cheap blur effects added over. Next it gives multiple character options. Its controls work and are responsive enough. The random generated levels are a good idea. The atmosphere is well done with the snow falling and the music managing to be the same repeating tune but now annoy the hell out of me, itís almost like the music in Minecraft and it does fit the snowy setting. The game even gives replay ability with multiple characters to unlock and play as, along with the random tracks and difficulty levels. Finally the 3D character models are quite good, for XBLIG anyway and by that I mean they look a little better than what the N64 could manage except in this game the art style seems to work with it rather than against disguising obvious polygons a bit along with the very smooth animations in the game.

Now onto the bad as the game does have some issues. Firstly the bonus difficulty which you might think being at the end of the difficulty options is a super hard mode is actually a mode so easy I believe I could play with while drunk and still not fail a level. Speaking of failing levels and difficulty there is a slight issue with the randomly generated tracks where it creates difficulty spikes, for example on track 9 I managed 1 track where even going beyond the speed you can push the whole time I couldnít finish the track and missing 1 of the gates mean I never even made the first checkpoint, it was near impossible to finish. I however regenerated the level after about 15 fails and the level it created was so easy I missed 5 gates and still finished with 15 seconds on the timer, and this was on normal. Also speaking of the extra difficulty mode I did manage to almost break the game playing it as Xue (purple) as I got up to such a speed the game was slowing down more and dropping more and more frames just to be able to keep up with how fast I was moving through it. My final point in the bad is while thereís plenty of characters it feels like it could have used one more pallet for the environment. There are two environments as such; green trees with red brick and brown trees with grey brick but I feel a trick was missed in having maybe snow covered trees without the snow effect (though then snow blindness might be an issue but still) as one more environment would have made it seems less repetitive .


Trailer



Verdict: It manages to be worth the asking price of 80 Microsoft points but it doesnít excel much beyond that in terms of entertainment. I spent most of my time on most levels forgetting the existence of a brake button , which may or may not be intended but I feel like if Iíd played it more carefully part of the fun would be lost. The game isnít getting a recommendation from me but Iím not saying steer clear of it. Considering this is the first game I can remember for a while with just skiing in it and if you happen to be someone after a skiing game this is probably your best and only bet, that doesnít have a yeti run in to kill you. If nothing else it suggests there is or should be room in the XBLIG for games that break the standard and donít include zombies in them. In the end I can see in the future me playing A Snowy Slalom again, not for long but maybe every now and again for one or two tracks.

Score


Yes I have a scoring system and its weird because it works both as a score and to annoy people by being a pain to put in a standard scale.
So here is the breakdown of scores just because its the first time I've put it on a review here.

0 = terrible, broken, unplayable and or can't even be described as a game
1 = barely playable, not fun a basic bug filled mess that's not worth playing even when drunk.
2 = A meh game, either its good but has too many bugs breaking it or its a solid working game just with next to no entertainment value (So more playable drunk than sober mostly)
3 = Average score, relatively entertaining and provided enough content / quality to match the asking price but not much more than that and with relatively few serious bugs of any kind.
4 = Above average score that offers either more entertainment or content than you'd expect for your money with one to two glitches at most and then not really any serious ones.
5 = Far above average, offering way more for your money in terms of entertainment, quality or time.
6 = No game is perfect but to get this rating a game has to be pretty near it for the price being asked. Expect large value for money, good quality game. A must buy game or game your really should buy before others. More than worth your time and money to play and most likely a real joy or good experience to play.
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