The southern California native Shaun White returns to the soft white snow-covered hills in Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage. Improving off of last years Road Trip, the world seems like a better fit for the snowboarding prodigy.
Last year Ubisoft introduced the Shaun White Snowboarding (SWS) game for public consumption across all three major platforms. Surprisingly the Wii edition came out with the best results by outselling the two other platforms. This wasn’t because of the large install base for the Wii; it was simply because the Wii game played better. Coming off the success of SWS: Road Trip is 2009's only entry into the Shaun White series, Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage.
Dust off that Balance Board
World Stage takes everything that was good about Road Trip and rolls with it. World Stage doesn't do anything more to impress more than last years offering, but it's still a solid, fun game that makes wonderful use of the Wii Balance Board. It has been a while since I have used my Balance Board (my neglected Wii Fit sheds a tear), and now I remember why the device is so ingenious. Playing with the Balance Board is the way to go, and is the real only option you want to use while playing World Stage. The option to play with only the Wii-mote is available, but it is highly unlikely you would pass up the Balance Board, if you had one.
On the Balance Board you will be ready to take on the Shaun White snowboarding venture which has the simple goal of making it the snowboarding World Stage. Working your way up to headlining with the pros you will meet up with a group of Shaun's buddies. From this group of cartooned characters you can hit the slopes with the option of use a different character each round. Each character has different statistics that will be more suited to a particular style, however don’t read into it too much and simply have fun. Performance is mainly based off of your skills on the Balance Board, and I could hardly feel the impact of the different statistics besides jumping height.
The graphics in SWS: World Stage look wonderful on the Wii. The cartoon vibe they have gone with is much more suited to the gameplay and the target audience of the Wii, however even outside the demographical targets, it is pleasing to view. The animations are good enough for what they are doing, and better yet each characters has a fun vibe and personality. It’s not rocket science here and it doesn’t have to be. I don’t think anyone will be complaining about the graphics in this one. Along with its looks and fun carefree attitude in its voice work the music rocks. The musical selection is too deep, but it is enough to give you a nice jolt as you head down the hills. If you haven’t guessed Shaun White’s Wii editions are more kid friendly which is a 180 degrees away from the simulation style of the console version.
One Way To Go
Just because the Wii version doesn’t go into depth like the consoles, doesn’t mean the game isn’t fun. Actually it is the opposite! The theory of "less is more" comes into effect here. SWS: World Stage is generalised in its options, however the sense of being on a snowboard feels more like the part because of the Balance Board. A controller can not compete compared to the feeling of jumping on the Wii Balance Board-- and this goes for singularly Wii-mote play as well. Playing a game on the Balance Board might sound like a challenge, but its not. World Stage does a wonderful job walking you through all the slight motions and you will be surprised how easily the gameplay comes together. As long as you are half way coordinated then you should be fine on the board.
All the snowboarding goodness launches off of an airport hub which lets you check your stats, look at the in-game achievements, head into the events (6 different Mountains- 75 challenges), and even create your own stunts. Creating stunts is done by wiggling the Wii-Motion Plus around with the character tracking your movements. With the new moves you can replace the presets and to customize the experience a little more. I’m sure it’s nothing that anyone will spend too much time with, but it is a cool idea that feels kind of like a tech demo of sorts. Other than that you actually don’t use the Wii-Motion Plus controller in the game which is a little disappointing.
For those who want to board with their buds in the real world, World Stage does its best to offer up multiplayer gaming, however hitting the slopes with friends isn’t as much fun as it could be since the game only supports one Wii board at a time. This means one of the players will have to go it solo with the Wii-mote. That’s not horrible if that’s how you play the game, just don’t expect miracles with the multiplayer aspect of World Stage.
Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage is a fun game that will likely please anyone wanting to have a light-hearted snowboarding experience on their Wii. Keep in mind that World Stage is aimed at the younger audience so don’t expect the same showing as last years Xbox 360 or PS3 version. This being said, playing World Stage with the balance board is the way to go and it is surprisingly responsive. The value is in owning both the game and the balance board. Gamers who want to play this one without the Board can still have fun, although it really doesn’t have the same impact. I love what Ubisoft Montreal has done with the Wii version of Shaun White, and until Shaun White Snowboarding 2 is released, World Stage is where I’d put my money.
Gameplay:7.5, Graphics:8.0, Sound:7.0, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:8.0 Final: 7.5 / 10
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 11.13.09
- Wonderful cartoon animations aimed at younger audiences
- The perfect game to accent your Wii Balance Board
- Balance Board controls are responsive and easy to learn
- Fun game that is accessible for all ages
- A small amount of customization
- Not as much fun without the Balance Board
- Wii-Motion Plus Support is partially supported
- Geared away from the hardcore Snowboarding crowd
- Special Target version—huh, enough is enough