If you’d ask me for my list of favorite video game franchises, SSX somehow would never come up. Hell I’d forgotten it completely existed until my brain randomly spoke up and resurfaced the “Welcome to Ghirabaldiiii-eeeee.” How could I have forgotten SSX Tricky, probably one of my most played games of all time? While other kids were playing Tony Hawk (by the time I got a game system by the time everyone else could completely demolish me), I was replaying SSX Tricky over and over and over. The perfect balance of an arcadey trick system, cheesy character designs, and over the top level design had me pegged. I had every level, every shortcut completely memorized and could deal back all those losses in Tony Hawk ten fold.
So what happened to the series and why has it left the public consciousness? EA had a couple non starters following SSX 3, failed to rebrand it as a “dark and serious” snowboarding game, and put out a largely solo, wide open mountain snowboarding reboot (it was fine, but missed what made the franchise special; over the top silliness).
There have been very little rumblings of a potential reboot of the franchise, but now is the perfect time to strike. The 90s and early 2000s joyful excess is starting to come back into vogue and nothing suits that more than EAs BIG brand.
What could they possibly do in a new SSX game in 2020? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s my wishlist for a new SSX game, if one were going to exist:
A Return to Tighter and Sillier Track Design
The original trilogy of games was all about getting up close and personal with your fellow snowboarders. Sure there were shortcuts, but that just added to the feel of an alpine kart racer. Races were fast and frenetic and learning the tracks benefited you not only in races but allowed you to pinpoint where special pipes and ramps would appear in trick modes. There was honestly nothing better than having the trick mode tracks be the same ones, but with giant crisscrossing pipes everywhere. The reboot removed most of that, presenting a more traditional version of alpine mountains. This resulted in tracks that were a lot less memorable and also meant you lost your other racers much more easily. The open design allowed for more exploration, but missed that early fast paced, head to head gameplay. I want the game to feel like an icey Mario kart track or a downhill Tony Hawk track dialed up to 11 (points for giant fans in the floor). All this talk of gameplay leads to my second point:
I didn’t come to SSX for a solo boarding experience, I came to make (and push over) my friends! SSX 2012 moved multiplayer to an online only experience and there was no traditional simultaneous multiplayer option. Early SSX modes pitted you against six other racers and it was even better having a friend be one of them. Want to grind that pipe? Better be going faster than the person behind you or they will take you out. Ever line up to go off a ramp only to have someone push you over before you got air? It was the worst, but also the best! I want to be able to do all that again and do it with someone sitting on my couch. Of course I’d love online modes too, but that shouldn’t have to cost me a couch competitor. Bring them both in! I definitely like the idea of an online leaderboard too, but I’d love to be able to compete in the same trick modes as friends. It makes me so mad not having multiple snowboarders, I just want to push someone…
A Nemesis for the Restivus
People proclaimed the nemesis system from Shadows of Mordor the next great video game system (not really but still, it was talked up a lot). It hasn’t really been used effectively since, minus the Mordor sequel. The original SSX games not only allowed you to physically shove over other boarders, but it influenced their attitude toward you in subsequent races (I’d be pissed to if you kept shoving me). A new SSX could bring this back and expand by creating literal rivals out of racers. Depending on the character too, they could even go out of their way to make your life hell. They could even do one on one rival race or trick modes! They could leverage the different characters too for fun voiceovers and voices during the races. Finally, the ultimate application of the nemesis system!
Styleeeee and Color, lots and lots of Color
Remember how I mentioned that 90s excess is back? Well EA Sports BIG took direct cues from that style. Everything was outlandish and over the top, especially in the character designs. SSX 2012 toned this down, not surprising for A) the pivot from Dark Descent and B) the time. I want the fun brought back and that starts with lots of neon colors. Let’s bring back that over the top fun and the highlighter pinks and greens! One thing 2012 did right was the effects on tricks. When you filled up your super meter, your tricks had a trail of a light color follow you as you did it. I say keep that, but marry it with the style of earlier games. Include a remix of a classic rap song, and we’re in business.
That Signature Arcadey Feel
This ones an easy one; EA never completely deviated from that formula. It’s the most important one too, the series secret sauce. SSX always had an arcadey feel to it’s snowboarding, see kart racer point above. Even the reboot kept this aspect, making for a slightly looser feel when you’re navigating treacherous mountaintops. Keep the weightless feeling, the super meters, and fast paced downhill.
That about covers my absolute must haves for a new SSX. If (when) SSX bubbles back up to the surface, hopefully it’s a return to the outlandish roots of the original 3. There’s a big snowboarding shaped hole in my heart and only Mac can fill it.