Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Genre: Snowboarding, Racing
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
NA Release Date: December 1, 2003
The Nintendo GameCube has a neat little collection of racing games that cover a broad spectrum of playstyles. Kirby Air Ride is almost entirely combat focused, Mario Kart: Double Dash adds a hint of luck to arcade racing and F-Zero GX is blistering fast and skill dependent. 1080° Avalanche falls a bit between Double Dash and F-Zero GX. It’s a skill-based racer, but it doesn’t demand track memorization to compete.
Tricks are inventively a part of snowboarding games, but incentives are needed for performing them during races. Rival snowboarding franchise, SSX, offered speed boosts for successful tricks. Where as the original 1080° Snowboarding on Nintendo 64 had no incentive for pulling them off.
Rather than offer speed boosts, 1080° Avalanche introduces a power meter that fills up as you land tricks. Once the meter is maxed out, the character will start glowing. This aura essentially allows one free punch that will knockdown the opponent. It works as both an offensive and defensive tool, because it can be used to take the lead or hold first place.
It’s not a perfect system. It’s easy to get to maximum power and the meter doesn’t deplete until activated. There’s no reason to do tricks once your meter is full, but it’s nice to see a different approach.