Snowboarding games have forever been living in the shadows of the extreme sports market, struggling to make ends meet with the likes of Tony Hawk hogging the spotlight for all eternity. And unfortunately, despite the amount of hype one original game might build prior to launch — a skateboarding game usually tends to sweep in and claim the glory. But that’s not to say that the snowboarding fan base is lacking in numbers or anything. In fact, take a look at some of the online events that revolve around extreme sports, and you’ll be surprised at just how many boarders still opt for the slopes and not the halfpipe.
While we can all agree that snowboarding video games don’t own up to having story-rich content embedded within them, we could argue that, in light of the colorless composition, they do boast quite a lot of playability. But what are the best games snowboarding has to offer? What makes us want to bundle up in twenty-six layers and hit the slopes for a session? Well, if we had to put our take on it — then it’d have to be these five.
5. Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
Like a moth to the flame, Ubisoft gravitated to the glimmering lights of the snow-soaked alps, desperate to make Shaun White a household name in the gaming sphere. But despite its best efforts, it didn’t quite live up to the same level of acclaim as Tony Hawk and the Pro Skater spool. That said, the professional snowboarder did land a few good punches with a reel of early noughties games. However, the chapter that delivered the best action of the lot was the Wii port, with the balance board playing a major role in the experience.
Although you won’t be bouncing off the walls doing frontside grabs on your living room floor, you will be able to immerse yourself in snow and ice and navigate obstacles from death-defying altitudes. And, from an exercise point of view, Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip definitely doesn’t hold back on putting you to work — even if you’re slowly weaving through flat terrain and running short-haul practice sessions. So, a win-win situation, to be fair.
4. Amped 3
Tired of gliding through the snow on a board? Ever wondered what it’d be like to conquer the mountain on a toilet? Well, now you can do exactly that, with Amped 3 bundling in some of the strangest ingredients ever seen in a sports video game. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, then perhaps the outrageous storyline will, which, if anything, is a little too bizarre. However, it’s a chapter we’d recommend any day of the week — if only for the hilarious selection of boardable items. Like a rocking horse, for example.
On top of the humorous approach to the sport, Amped 3 also goes in hard with an award-winning soundtrack that dares to dip toes in every pool under the sun. And that’s just a smidgen of the overall experience Indie Built stuffed into its core, with hundreds of kooky extras scattered throughout the gameplay itself. Though, it’s something we’re more inclined to push you towards playing than explain in detail. So, if you’ve got an old Xbox 360 knocking about — then this one should definitely fall into your pipeline.
If you’re more swayed by the idea of having a bottomless mountain at your disposal and no real storyline to conquer — then Steep is for you. Thanks to its vast open world and death-defying altitudes, you too can traverse the alps and carve a legacy of your own desire — without any sort of strings attached or rules to ground you. And that’s exactly why we adore Steep. Like Skate — the game invites you to test your knowledge of the controls and tricks the snow renders for you, without so much as a slap on the wrist for screwing up an attempt.
Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if you’re summoning the courage to forge an icy throne or just dipping in for a session across the connecting alps. Steep, with its wide variety of playstyles, honestly is a joy to breeze through regardless of route or objective. It’s crisp, it’s compact — and it’s continuing to keep the bar for snowboarding video games seriously high.
2. SSX Tricky
If EA Big were to ever return to the studio and serve up one of their beloved games in a new light — SSX Tricky would most definitely be a prioritized project. At least that’s what we all like to think, anyway. But the truth is, neither EA nor any of the original team is exactly drooling over the notion, even with hundreds of thousands of fans still pleading for it to make a return. And we’ve accepted that. Involuntarily, of course.
There’s a reason why SSX Tricky is still considered to be one of the best snowboarding games of all time. Although being relatively simple with a one-track scenario of racing or tricking for the gold, the game itself still conjures all the best ingredients in the book. The mind-boggling special moves, the instantly recognisable courses, the dreaded Tokyo Megaplex brimming with opportunity, the memorable character catchphrases, and everything else nestled between. SSX Tricky is, without a doubt, a snowy masterpiece — and we’re honored to have it sitting as our silver medalist.
1. SSX 3
Glossing over the SSX franchise and its mountain of prominent episodes and skiing spin-offs, there is one chapter that idles at the peak, and one we can’t help but roll back to whenever thinking of celebrated extreme sports video games. Sure enough, it’s SSX 3, with its all-in-one package of snowy goodness and radical style.
SSX may have spiralled, corkscrewed and even plummeted over its rollercoaster of a snowboarding career, but SSX 3 was the one chapter that refused to submit to imperfection and instead went on to tie the threads together beautifully, forging one of the greatest games in the extreme sports genre of all time. All in all, EA Big struck gold with the perfect balance of good music, outstanding track design, and jaw-dropping mountainscapes, resulting in a perfect branch of snowy delight.