IGN Review of Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage
Last year Shaun White Snowboarding arrived on all three current consoles, but it was the Wii version that really shined. That's because the developers played to the Wii's strengths, didn't try to create realistic graphics, and kept the gameplay simple and fun. It was also one of the first third-party games to make great use of the Wii Balance Board. This year, Ubisoft didn't even bother making PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions of the sequel, Shaun White: World Stage. The Wii is the only place you'll find this snowboard hero. But you'll be forgiven if you mistake this Shaun White for last year's game, because very little has been changed. The simple, fun gameplay and stylish visuals ensure this is still one of the better kids' games on Wii, but if you already took the Road Trip you may be disappointed that Shaun White doesn't have a lot of new tricks up his sleeve.
The first thing you should note is that this game is aimed squarely at kids. Everything from the simple arcade gameplay to the exaggerated graphics to the Saturday Morning cartoon humor is very kid friendly. That's not a bad thing -- it works well as a kids' game. Just know that this isn't the realistic snowboard sim that a seasoned gamer might want. For example, you don't even have to jump onto rails in World Stage -- if you come close to a rail your rider will automatically hop on.
The graphics are very similar to Road Trip and still look nice. These types of stylized visuals work well on the Wii. The animation is fluid and it particularly looks great when you get going super fast. Crowds look a little cheap, but I guess you can't have it all. The licensed music choices are fun but there aren't enough of them to avoid being repetitive.
World Stage has a new hub system that takes place in an airport. Here you'll select events to participate in, check your stats, and view achievements. A big new addition is the trick machine where you can actually design your own stunts with Wii Motion Plus. Twist and move the controller around and the onscreen character's board will match your movements. You can actually replace all the game's tricks with ones that you make, which is an interesting little bit of customization. Note that Wii Motion Plus isn't used when you're actually playing the game -- maybe that functionality will be included in next year's Shaun White.
The gameplay is largely unchanged, so while it's still enjoyable it may feel a little too familiar if you played the first game. You can steer with the Wiimote, flick to jump, and whip it around to perform tricks while your character is in the air. Like last year, you can also step onto the Wii Balance Board to steer your way down the slopes and this method is pleasantly responsive. The simplified control scheme means you'll get the hang of using the board almost immediately. You'll still need to hold onto the remote to do air tricks, but everything else is handled with your feet.
The structure of World Stage is a little different than Road Trip. You start off ranked as number 100 and need to work your way up to the top by winning events. There are a good variety of challenges like races, trick challenges, half pipes, and an elimination mode where the person in last place is eliminated at every checkpoint. You can earn up to three stars in each event and every time you earn a star you go up one rank. It's a fun system but I beat the game in a day so don't expect it to last you all winter.
Up to four riders can hit the slopes together to compete in multiplayer, either in split screen or by taking turns in hot seat mode. As ever, the Wii can only read one Balance Board at a time, so only the chosen one can ride the plastic.
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