Among the top-tier games shown at Ubidays earlier this month, snowboarding title Shaun White was the one I was least interested in. While snowboarding is a sport complex and interesting enough to be a vehicle for a good video game, the franchises that have cropped up never seem to stick around for very long. And it doesn't seem to be because they're not good. Plenty of great snowboarding franchises have come and gone.
Ubisoft's Shaun White seems to have plenty going for it, but nothing that made me think "Wow, this is incredibly different." The game, heading to the Playstation 3, Wii and Xbox 360, uses the Assassin's Creed engine and features an open mountain for gamers to explore.
The version I saw featured three characters, none of them women, but I was told there would be a lot more coming with the finished game, including female snowboarders.
Gearing up your character is mostly cosmetic, letting you pick through different jackets, pants, boots, gloves, hats, goggles, and even backpacks, though the type of board you select does change the way you ride.
The game's loading screen features a half-pipe you can actually zip around in with your character, which is a pretty neat touch. Once loaded each mountain is divided up into three layers: The peak, a dangerous mix of cliffs and drops which can result, if handled incorrectly, in your death; The middle mountain, a tree packed, ungroomed area; and the park with all of its groomed trails and courses.
Snowboarder Shaun White did all of the dialog in the game and even wrote the game's script. While you can't play as him, you do get to board with him, the devs said. The game will include mountains in Japan, Park City, Utah, Alaska and Europe.
I'm sure it will find a niche, maybe quite a large niche, but it was too early to tell if it will be the break out hit I'm sure Ubisoft would like it to be.