Monday, January 16, 2006

Extreme Snowboarding for the Talentless and Unathletic

After two weeks with no kayaking tales to post I am forced to confess that, despite record warm temperatures in Oklahoma, Dianne and I have not paddled a stroke. We have fallen helplessly under the spell of Snowboarding.

Lacking the funds or time off for a real ski resort vacation, Dianne and I rented the amazing X-Box extreme snowboarding game SSX 3. On Day Three of the rental from Blockbuster, we called and told them that we needed to keep it!

Xbox Game Review

This is without a doubt one of the best video games I have ever played on any platform! You WILL feel like you are rushing down snowy mountains at breakneck speed, jumping ramps and doing the most insane over-the-top tricks imaginable.

Although it offers multiplayer mode, our family likes to take turns playing on single player mode and then backseat drive when it isn't your turn. We play most video games in this manner, it allows us to work as a team and share knowledge as we acquire it. It also means we have the whole TV screen devoted to the action. One of the great things about SSX 3 for XBox is that watching a friend or loved one play SSX 3 is more entertaining than most TV programming available at our house.

The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together.

Most of the games we enjoy are fairly violent. I have no problems with my young son playing violent video games. I believe that child's play has always been inherently violent for fairly good biological and ethical reasons. However, SSX 3 is not violent or obscene at all. Quite a refreshing surprise!

Another surprise is: the game soundtrack really rocks! A cool sounding DJ plays a diverse selection of language-cleaned Hip-Hop, Rock and Alternative songs that were mostly new to me. I have since purchased many of the songs from iTunes. A few of my favorite SSX 3 songs are Play It Loud by MxPx, a unique remix of Rockstar by N.E.R.D. (listen to a sample here at Amazon.com) and Clockwork by Autopilot Off.

Amped 2 - No Comparison

We enjoyed playing SSX 3 so much, we rented Microsoft's competing freestyle snowboarding game, Amped, it also features a very cool game soundtrack. Sadly, I cannot recommend Amped 2 for Xbox, maybe they got it right in Amped 3...I don't know.

Playing SSX 3 is like being a brave, athletic, creative, living-on-the-edge pro snowboard master. You pick up the skills quickly and naturally with little learning curve or boring tutorials.

Playing Amped 2 is probably more like what would actually happen if I tried to ride a snowboard. I can assure that me on a snowboard is something that would be more fun to watch than participate in...at least watching would provide some laughs! The game is hard to learn with loads of annoying and frustrating tutorials and the snow just kind of feels less real. The tricks appear more real, but who wants real? This is entertainment, not a scientific simulation!

Dianne and I are not avid gamers, preferring to take our freetime under blue skies rather than blue screens, but when you can't make a campfire due to the burn ban...who wants to camp? Snowboarding is a sport requiring more cash and coordination than I am ever likely to have. However, two weeks on virtual slopes via Xbox was right up my alley and easily affordable.

You can find the SSX games in other game console formats, if Xbox isn't your flavor.

What Does All Of This Have to Do With Kayaking?

Honestly, not very much. However it could be considered preparation for taking on the hot new winter sport: Snow Boating! You can see a snow boating video in the downloads section of the Ty Warp site, warning: audio is not in English. It really looks fun!

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