Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage Review

Snowboarding videogames have really been all over the map in terms of quality. From the bad (Evolution Snowboarding, Trick’N Snowboarder) to the great (SSX Tricky, SSX 3, Amped 3), it’s a genre that really can be divisive. It is also the one sport that hasn’t really hit it big with gamers like skateboarding has thanks to the Tony Hawk and Skate series. Ubisoft is looking to change that with their Shaun White brand, and are taking another shot at conquering the snowy peaks of snowboarding. While the first Shaun White game, Shaun White Snowboarding, hit all three consoles, the Wii version was the standout hit, offering simple controls and arcade-like tricks and gameplay.

Ubisoft has seen this success and has released the sequel for the Wii only this time. Entitled Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage, this new game places you in the shoes of Shaun White and his friends are you travel around the world and compete to become a champion on the world stage. Was Ubisoft’s decision to make Shaun White a Wii exclusive game a good one? Well dear reader, Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage (from here on SWSB:WS) is a fantastic snowboarding game and a worthy successor to the throne left vacant by the SSX series.


The first unique thing about SWSB:WS is the controls. You can control the game using the Wii Remote, Wii Balance Board, or with the WiiMotion Plus connected. The Wii Remote is simple and easy to use, requiring simple inputs to do tricks and control your rider. Tilting the remote controls your character, and a combination of flicks and button presses pull off basic and advanced tricks. The game again keeps it simple, not overloading you with senseless motions or complicated gestures. With the WiiMotion Plus connected, you gain a greater degree of control, but it wasn’t noticiable enough for me to really see a difference. I really enjoyed this method, which lets you and your friends get right into the game. But if you want to really challenge yourself while still having some serious fun, the Wii Balance Board adds a whole new dimension. Utitlizing both the Wii Remote and Balance Board, the game takes on a new persona and really makes you feel like you are riding a snowboard, no matter how cheesy that sounds. By applying pressure to one of the back two sensors, you can steer your board. Applying pressure to both slows you down, while pushing forward speeds up. You control your tricks by using the Wii Remote and all modifiers are mapped to the board. So pushing to the left or right with both feet causes you to spin, while applying pressure to opposite sides makes for more advanced grabs and spins. If it sounds a bit confusing, it will be at first, but the game holds your hand throughout the entire Beginner Circuit, teaching you all the basics and allowing you to practice as much as you want. It has a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t want to control the game any other way. This is the most fun I’ve had playing a snowboarding game because of the additional control offered by the Wii Balance Board.

The game follows a standard progression system that most extreme sports fans will know. Your goal is to go from Beginner to Pro by moving up the rankings. Each tier requires a set ranking that you need to achieve by the end of that tier’s weekly period in order to progress. If you aren’t at the correct ranking by the end of your time, no worries. The game doesn’t punish you and just has you redo the events until your ranking is up to speed. This may sound tedious if you can’t get past a certain event, but each tier mixes up your events every time. Each event’s difficulty rating is measured by how many spots you’ll move up in the rankings. A hard event will move you up maybe 6 spots, while and easier one is 3. So if you feel something is way too hard, just take an easier event. You’ll move up a bit more slowly, but you’ll still be making progress. It’s a fun system that pushed me to try harder events, but never scolded me for not doing well or making me repeat something over and over again. If I couldn’t get past an event, I would move to another one and didn’t get bothered being stuck. You can also play through the entire Campaign with up to three friends, so you and your friends can tackle events together.

To further help you in events, you gain Friend Powers. These powers augment your character with a special boost depending on the friend and your special meter. Some will give you a jump boost, while others raise your speed or trick stat. So if an event requires a beefy score to pass, grab the friend who gives you a boost to trick or jump to help you score more points. Maybe you are having trouble with a race or an overtake mission, so you can grab some attack powers to make the other players blind, fall down, or make you faster. It’s a very cool system that allows you to customize you rider to however you want to play.


The game also carries stylistic cartoon visuals and an over-the-top demeanor. The courses are simplistic and can look alike at times, but the developers have taken some time and added obstacles or visual flourishes on nighttime levels and on trick-specific courses. It breaks up the repetition in the levels, but not enough for you to really be able to call a course by name. I sometimes felt I was riding the same course numerous times in a row even though they were different mountains. The character models themselves are nice to look at and have a very “saturday morning cartoon” vibe. It’s delightful at times and they animate really well during the game’s story cutscenes. It’s like you are watching a Shaun White cartoon on an early morning and is just pleasing.

I do feel the WiiMotion Plus is underutilized here. It doesn’t seem to add too much to the standard Wii Remote controls; it seems its primary use is in the Trick Editor. Here you can make any trick you want by using the WiiMotion Plus to twist, turn, and toss your Wii Remote. You start off by making a specific roll, then add a grab. You can twist the controller in any direction to make the craziest tricks, and while a nice touch, I hoped for more uses like minigames or a finer, more noticable degree of control.

All in all, SWSB:WS has been a real surprise for me. I love the SSX games and Amped 3 was a delightful piece of insanity injected into snowboarding, and SWSB:WS brings all these elements, while adding its own spin to the genre with its unique controls and fun progression system. If you love snowboarding or just want to try your hand at virtual snowboarding, grab a Wii Balance Board and hit the slopes. You’ll be glad you did.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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