Forgotten Gems of Gaming: Cool Boarders 2

With the recent release of SSX to rapturous applause and critical praise, it seems fitting to take a look at a forgotten snowboarding game.

With the recent release of SSX to rapturous applause and critical praise, it seems fitting to take a look at a forgotten snowboarding game. But wait, is it 2000 again? No, time is unfortunately linear. The series has resorted to that current trend in naming your game or film with the same title as the original, thus somehow giving the new game more credibility. SSX (which apparently stands for Super Snow-cross) is somewhat of a surprise, as the genre has been under explored in recent years. Anyway, back to todays subject. Do you remember the late nineties surge in snowboarding games? Or when is was acceptable to put the word €˜cool€™ in the title of a game? If so, you probably played Cool Boarders 2 for the original Playstation. Despite their incredibly dull title, developers USP Systems pioneered the extreme sports genre of gaming a few years before Tony Hawk€™s Pro Skater ollied onto the scene. It could be argued that there wouldn€™t be a Tony Hawk series without Cool Boarders, and who could live without Tony Hawk: Shred? €œBut why is there a €˜2€™ in the title of this game?€ I hear you cry. Is it €˜Cool Boarders too Cool€™ or €˜Cool Boarders to Men€™ perhaps? No, it€™s a sequel to the previous years release; Cool Boarders. This initial venture onto the slopes was a lot like most peoples first time snow boarding: simple. In Cool Boarders 2, the core gameplay of the first title was kept and expanded upon, with more cool boarders, more cool courses, cool trick competitions, cool CPU characters to race against and even cool graphics for your board of choice. The main aim is to get to the bottom of the course in the quickest time, while performing a bunch of tricks to get a high score.

There were four boarders to choose from, each with different stats and looks; I liked Jin the best. One of the great things about this game was the amount of unlockables. As the player progresses and achieves higher scores, more players and courses become available. The player control of the boarder is brilliant with turning, carving, or busting a trick, and control is easy to pickup. The tricks are a little tricky, but that was half the fun. When compared to its Nintendo 64 contemporary 1080 Snowboarding, CB2 feels much more responsive. The main memory I have of this was the multiplayer, with a total of two players able to race and trick against each other. For a game that was easy to pickup but hard to master, it was great fun to either decide on a speed race, for the beginner or a trick based scoring game for those that were more acquainted with the game. The series sadly came to an end with the release of Cool Boarders 2001 in the year 2000 (as if being one year ahead of time is cool). The series had enjoyed a total of four years and six games. USP Systems went onto create; Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman, and yes, I€™ve never heard of it either. USP had one last gasp before it was disbanded. Going back to their snowboarding roots, they released Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder. Pro Snowboarder was the snowboarding answer to the Tony Hawk series, but it failed to gain much success. While there is a steady drip flow of snowboarding games, the frequency of releases has gradually slowed since the turn of the century. Perhaps it was the millennium bug, or just a fading popularity, but the snowboarding game is no longer a go-to money maker.

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