SSX becomes more SSX with upcoming DLC!
The SSX series is sort of a classic from the previous generation. With crazy characters and over-the-top snowboarding, it was well loved and spawned many sequels. I personally got in with SSX Tricky and loved SSX 3 as well.
However, after that it started to go downhill (pun not intended). The next game in the series was SSX: On Tour, developed by a different group and initially designed as a PSP game, it was a massive downgrade in terms of both graphics and gameplay. But, what was most baffling was how thoroughly they ruined the characters. The psychopathic Psymon was now a nice polite British chap. Meanwhile Kaori, the Japanese girl whom I applauded EA for getting an actual Japanese voice for, now spoke in broken English with an accent so bad it was downright offensive.
Things got worse with SSX Blur on the Wii, which recycled data from SSX3 yet still managed to be a significant graphical downgrade and utterly botch the characters again! This time, Kaori somehow managed to look like Ma-Ti from Captain Planet. I have absolutely no clue how they screwed that up. Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam was undeniably the superior SSX experience on Wii…and it wasn’t even a snowboarding game!
At this point, SSX went on hiatus. The series was no longer selling well and fans were not amused. But recently, with so many series making a comeback, EA decided to bring back the SSX series. A smart move as many people would love a new entry in the series! The problem was…they went with a dark and gritty angle.
Originally titled SSX: Deadly Descents, the early trailer was very grey and though it featured a mountain collapsing around the racer it was somehow dull. Shortly after it’s announcement there was fan backlash and the game went underground until it re-emerged as simply “SSX” with a noticeably brighter style and something somewhat closer to what we remember. Somewhat.
Once players got their hands on the game, they found a very polished and well made snowboarding game. But, while EA touted it being crazier and more over-the-top than ever, it really wasn’t. The tricks were tamer, the courses were blander, and the character designs…were a mess once again.
Lemme put it to you like this: I couldn’t tell if the character in light blue was supposed to be series sex symbol Elise, or a grown up version of Griff. This should be a sign that something is very wrong here. Here’s an even better example though:
Who is that supposed to be? Well, believe it or not, it’s Kaori. Yes, Zoe is in the game as well. She looks nearly identical. In fact, everyone looks nearly identical!
The problem can be found quite easily on the official EA blog posts about character designs. Scrawled at the bottom of Kaori’s design sheet is a single line of text that defines everything wrong with the new SSX:
“ssx5=function over fashion”
Aside from the fact that this is actually the 6th SSX game, that line says it all. Function over fashion. Realism. If I could only have one motto in my life, it would be “FUCK REALISM”. Seriously, if I wanted realism I’d go outside. I’m playing a videogame, I want an escape from reality. What’s more, I’m playing SSX. If I wanted a snowboarding sim I’d play any other snowboarding game, but SSX is supposed to deliver on over-the-top arcade snowboarding fun! EA even advertised the game as being more over-the-top and crazy than ever before! So it should be over-the-top and crazy!
This probably seems petty to most people. I mean, I’m mostly complaining about the visual style and not nearly as much about the actual gameplay. But I’m not a snowboarding fan. There’s plenty of other good realistic snowboarding games out there if I was one, but I’m not. I want SSX.
Believe it or not, though, I am not alone in this mindset. Infact, most people had the exact same complaint. “The game is nice but it’s just not SSX! It doesn’t have enough personality!”.
Well, it seems EA was actually listening. Just recently, they posted the following image to their facebook page as a teaser of upcoming DLC:
As you can clearly see, that’s Elise in her SSX Tricky outfit and design, leaping through the air as fireworks explode around her above a Mt.Rushmore-esque collection of character heads with the Adam Warren SSX3 art next to it. In short, giving players (or at least me) exactly what we wanted! Sure it may be the cheap way out, literally copy as much stuff from the older games as possible and throw it all in our face at once rather than actually grasping what made those games so stylish and awesome and making something new that feels like SSX, but it’s better than nothing.
Infact, let me tell you something right now: while I played the demo, I did not buy the new SSX. I was thinking about it, it played well enough, but it just didn’t draw me in. If this new DLC really does deliver on it’s promise though, I will go out and buy the new SSX and the DLC that same day. I know it sounds crazy but that image actually makes me want to play the game. Hopefully it will sell well and thus send a message: Fuck realism, give us SSX.