Missing In Action: SSX

When it comes to awesome video game adaptations of real life extreme sports, few titles bring back fond memories like Electronic Arts’ SSX franchise. A mix of eye candy and huge air, SSX dominated the era of larger than life snowboard gaming – whether it was Nintendo’s 1080, Microsoft’s Amped, or even the recent Shaun White Snowboarding. But it’s been nearly three years since EA brought a new SSX game to market, and many are wondering if we’ll ever see one.

A little franchise history… The original SSX launched nearly a decade ago, in October of 2000 and was only made available on the Playstation 2. It garnered in an average press rating of 9.2 (out of 10), and was exceptionally well received. Gamers quickly fell in love with the massive air, the insane trick list, the over-the-top locations, the boisterous characters and the amazing soundtrack. There were few greater pleasures than boosting down the Aloha Ice Jam, trying not to be a pinball in the Tokyo Megaplex, or enjoying the serene rhythms of Hybrid’s “Finished Symphony” on the Untracked back mountain.

No more than a year later did the EA Big label return for a second take, introducing the world to more wacky characters and insane jumps in SSX Tricky. Tricky introduced the franchises staying power with Uber Tricks – mind-blowing twists and turns to the character animation that left gamers starved for more.

When SSX 3 launched in 2003, two years after the successful Tricky, EA Big finally meshed the complaints of snowboarders itching for longer runs with the insane boosting and tricks of the previous game. With its triple peaks and free-roaming build, gamers could race down any track, perform insane tricks in Big Air competitions, style it up for multipliers in Slopestyle, or just roam in the seemingly-endless back country. Many afternoons were wasted away gliding soulfully down the slopes of those triple peaks listening to EA Big’s DJ Atomika – partially in search of snowflake collectibles, but mostly just to enjoy the scenery.

SSX On Tour launched two years later in 2005, at the tail end of the console life cycle, and was shamefully missed by many players. While it allowed the gamer to customize their own character, it lacked the familiarity of main stay characters like Mac, Zoe and Elise, to name a few. True, you would run into them – along with large crowds – across the mountain, but it was a disconnect for a lot of players, and the scores began to suffer.

Since then, we’ve seen only one release, in the form of SSX Blur – a Wii only title that, while fun in its own right, suffered greatly for the reuse of many of the old tracks from SSX 3 and On Tour. And despite being a solid game – earning a 7.3 average – many were unimpressed with the new-fangled, and decidedly wonky control scheme the Wii Remote and Nunchuk had to offer.

So where’s the new game?

Outside of a tease in EA’s mega-franchise reboot, Burnout Paradise, by series regular DJ Atomika where he stated that SSX tour star Mac Fraiser was recently spotted in the mountains, little has been said. But that’s not to say there aren’t a couple of good possibilities on the horizon for a triumphant return.

The first, and most likely, chance is in next year’s major peripheral releases from Microsoft and Sony. Despite average reviews for SSX Blur on Wii, it seems an almost no-brainer for EA to port their first motion control snowboard game over to Xbox 360’s Project Natal and Playstation 3’s Motion Controller. Outside of programming for the new tech, everything is already in place for an easy upgrade. A little polish on the graphics, a tweak or two for actual 3D recognition, and you’ve got an instant million seller. But there’s a lot of other new tech coming out soon that could help gamers get back to thrashing the mountain.

While slightly less reliable, it’s possible – unlikely, but probable – that EA is waiting to see how Activision’s upcoming Tony Hawk Ride board is going to fair in the market come November 17th. There’s been a lot of nay-saying toward the board – from its unconfirmed $120 price tag, to unwieldy controls, and not to mention that blunder that was the E3 expo where both this new peripheral and motion controls for the big two were announced – but one can imagine if the Tony Hawk license can pull off charging double for their game thanks to a Wii Balance Board-like clone, then maybe EA will do the same for SSX… or at least Skate.

Then, of course, there’s always the hope of a true controller sequel with a new twist all its own. Shaun White Snowboarding definitely garnered attention – if only on the Wii – but left a lot to be desired on the Xbox 360 and PS3. With all the wishing spotted on the gaming boards, a lot of fans seem to be clamoring that 2010 is going to be the year we finally get a full-fledge sequel to SSX 3 and On Tour.

Article from Gamersyndrome.com

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