SSX Tricky on the Game Boy Advance is quite a marvel. Never mind the fact that it includes 12 riders and eight courses from the PlayStation 2 version of the game, or that it features an arsenal of more than 50 different tricks. The most impressive aspect of this version is its graphical presentation. The game uses a polygon engine to display a fully three-dimensional course in front of the rider. As you launch off jump ramps and twirl in midair, you'll actually get to see the landscape pass by in real time.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2002/gba/ssxtricky/0001.jpgThe GBA does a nice impression of the PlayStation.
If you're familiar with SSX Tricky for the PS2, you'll recognize the courses in the GBA version. The forks, turns, and shortcuts are missing, but the environmental decorations are dead-on. The overall texture quality is on par with comparable PlayStation games, and the surrounding hills and valleys are quite realistic. At the same time, your rider is lifelike and performs every trick with reasonable fluidity. Though, the same isn't true of the CPU-controlled riders, who look like two-dimensional cutouts pasted on top of the gorgeous 3D backgrounds. This and the relatively close draw distance are the only nagging flaws in the game's graphical presentation, but they don't feel all that significant when you're actually playing.
Thanks to the 3D presentation, SSX Tricky plays much like the snowboarding games on more powerful consoles. You can lean forward and crouch to gain speed or jump higher, while the GBA's four main buttons are used for grabs, grinds, and tweaks. Flips and spins are performed with the directional pad, which means they'll take a little getting used to since you can't adjust your pitch in midair like in most snowboarding games. There are three main events--race, showoff, and time challenge--and you can tackle them separately on each course or in a competitive world circuit mode.
The game is also true to its namesake in that the best way to maximize your boost meter and earn the most points is to continually perform complex trick combinations. Basic tricks and combinations build the meter to the point that you can perform an ubertrick. If you successfully perform an ubertrick, you'll earn one of the letters that spell the word "tricky." Once you complete the word, your boost meter stays put at maximum and you can perform the outlandish super ubertricks. Taken together with the various trick multipliers and speed boosts scattered throughout each course, the super ubertrick mechanic allows you to execute some absolutely impossible tricks.
Eight courses isn't a lot, and the straight plunge of most of them means that you'll often find yourself bored if you're not performing tricks. As such, races can drag on. It's worth it to give the game a chance, however, because the last two courses are lengthy and full of twists, and they offer a great deal of freedom to cut loose with huge trick combinations. In addition to the jump ramps and rails that you'll find on every other course, these later runs are peppered with turbo strips and jump pads that can increase your acceleration and fling you into the air. It's fun to go back and replay just these courses to see what sick trick combinations you can perform.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2002/gba/ssxtricky/0002.jpgSpell "tricky" and perform super tricks, like this pirouette.
The soundtrack is another pleasant surprise. The music is similar to that of the console version and is full of techno beats and hip-hop samples. There are times when the music sounds distorted, but the ambitious nature of each track makes that somewhat forgivable. The sound effects for boarding, landings, and spills get the job done, but they aren't remarkable. There are a few speech samples here and there as well, the most notable being the echoes of "tricky" or "excellent" that you'll hear after various tricks.
Even in light of the few imperfections noted above, you'd be hard-pressed not to enjoy SSX Tricky on the Game Boy Advance. It may not look as nice as the PS2 version, but for all intents and purposes it feels identical. There is a little learning curve to master before you can unleash a continual stream of super ubertricks, but the effort is worth it once you unlock the last two stages and literally become a superhero with a snowboard.