It would seem I’m not the only Infendo staff member who has recently had 1080° Snowboarding on my mind, as our very own Colin included the game and its successor (1080° Avalanche for the GameCube) in a list of “The Forgotten Franchises” (forgotten by Nintendo, it would seem, but not by us!). Now the game is currently available on Club Nintendo at a cost of 200 coins, and I feel the need to explain why those coins would be well-spent by anyone who does not already have the N64 classic downloaded on their Wii or Wii U. Just to reiterate: 1080° Snowboarding is not available through the Nintendo eShop, so don’t get your hopes up that N64 games are finally being made playable in GamePad-only mode: you can only download the game to your Wii U through Wii mode at the Wii Shop Channel.
1080° Snowboarding is an E-rated game typically classified in the Sports/Racing genre. This couldn’t be more accurate, as it is, in fact, both a sports and a racing game at its core of cores. The player assumes the role of one of 5 unique snowboarders from different areas of the world, participating in a variety of modes that fall into two general categories: trick modes and race modes. In the two trick modes, Trick Attack and Contest, the goal is to perform as many tricks as possible with the highest point values as possible for a high score. The three race modes, Match Race, Time Attack, and 2P Race, simply require the player to reach the end of the chosen course as quickly as possible. The trick and race modes differ greatly from one another, and players will undoubtedly have a preference: there’s something to suit just about any type of gamer here. A training mode rounds out the numerous selection of options.
It seems pretty simple up to this point, but plenty of factors come into play in 1080° that add up to a solid gameplay experience. The game’s basic control scheme is exactly what you would expect: the left analog stick (on your Classic controller or Classic controller pro) is used to steer your character, while holding the L-button generates greater speed and a quick press of the B-button triggers a jump. A damage meter that appears in the corner of the screen during play fills as the player suffers any severe crashes, and disqualification is the immediate consequence of the meter filling to max. Fortunately, crash landings can be averted with a well-placed press of the L-button just before landing. An excellent physics system makes the game feel more authentic. All of this combines to turn simple racing sessions into fun and frenzied affairs.
Performing tricks adds a layer of complexity to the game that players may or may not want to delve very deep into. The game’s wide variety of tricks are performed by completing sequences of actions involving the left analog stick, the B-button, and the R-button. These sequences range in length from a single press of the B-button to the 9 actions needed to successfully complete the titular 1080° move. Learning tricks will be an engaging experience for some, a frustrating one for others.
I only briefly mentioned it, but this game can be played with a friend (locally, of course). Trick modes are exempt from this feature, but the ability to race with a buddy is nothing but a good thing, if you ask me. 2-player races can take place on any of the game’s varied courses, of which there are 6.
The graphics in 1080° have aged significantly (as with essentially all N64 games) but the atmosphere they produce remains surprisingly strong, thanks to the apparent attention to detail. The environments represent many different winter moods, from the bright and sunny Deadly Falls to the sunset of the aptly named Golden Forest level. Some courses feature convincing blizzards and fog, some have areas of deep snow or icy stretches. Whichever course you choose, wind effects that ripple through your rider’s clothing give a strong sense of speed. Sound effects are similarly impressive, and the game’s music suits it well.
The gameplay and control in 1080° Snowboarding still make for a solid experience, even 16 years after its original release on the Nintendo 64. Though some will get more enjoyment out of performing tricks than others, there’s plenty of fun to be had racing against a cpu or human opponent, or just trying to set and beat your own fastest times in the Time Attack mode. Visually, the 6 main courses are varied and will leave you with a lasting impression. A great sense of physics, the immersive sound effects, and an upbeat soundtrack round out a game that is easily worth 200 Club Nintendo coins. Here’s hoping Nintendo announces N64 games for the Wii U eShop sooner rather than later!