by Chris Scott
reviewed on WII
I love to ski, the winter sport is one of my favorite past times. But unlike my favorite winter sport, hockey, there hasnít been a good skiing video game. It is not that the potential isnít there either as its cousin sport, snowboarding, has a solid handful of quality endeavors to its name. So when We Ski was announced by Namco as a game that would support the new Wii Balance Board, the possibilities for a great game sparked in my head. We Ski unfortunately is a mixed bag that ends up being both fun and frustrating at the same time.
Much like when I go to my favorite mountain, We Ski allows complete access to the entire mountain, which includes 14 trails. The first thing you will have to do though is pick an avatar. The game comes complete with roughly 200 pre-made characters, or you can import your Mii. For beginners there is a pretty extensive ďski schoolĒ that will key you into the controls. The game can be played with a combination of the Wii Balance Board, Wii remote and Nunchuk or just with the Wii remote and Nunchuk. The most rewarding (and fun) way to play the game is with the Balance Board set up but it is also perfectly playable without it.
To steer your character around the mountain you tilt left or right on either the Balance Board or by waggling your remotes. The game does not for some reason recognize your forward weight, unlike Wii Fitís Skiing, when using the balance board which is disappointing. This minor annoyance is compounded by the overall slow speed of the game, which results in the most frustrating aspect of the gameplay, the ski poles.
Iíve been skiing for close to twenty years now and Iíve seen my fair share of ski school demonstrations. When teaching young children to ski they do so without the poles. This is because to ski downhill you donít particularly need poles and they can end up being more of a hindrance to a young skierís skiing education. However with We Ski, the poles tend to become the most important aspect of the game. You will constantly be thrusting your poles in a cross-country skiing motion, a motion that can be quite an energy suck and one that I tend to only use in real skiing when I am at the base of a mountain. Yet We Ski all but forces you to use this motion to generate any speed. This all brings me to the most disappointing aspect of the game, the overall speed. Downhill skiing is a fast sport Ė sure depending upon which trail you choose the incline will be different Ė but in general even bunny slopes should be fast. Nothing is fast in We Ski and this is a huge downfall.
While the basic gameplay may be somewhat disappointing, the very nature of the Happy Ski Resort should put a smile on your face. The art design on the We Ski is nice and perfectly fitted to the slower paced, more casual nature of the game. Characters are all cutesy and everything has a nice little cartoon feel to it. We Ski certainly isnít a fantastic looking Wii game but it works. Something that also works within the art style is the sound. The characters all speak in gibberish and your skis have a nice cartoony swish and swoosh to them.
So you are probably wondering if We Ski actually has any gameplay mixed within its open world mountain. The answer to that is yes, as there are well over 100 challenges for the player to complete. We Ski features everything from running errands, photo shoots, rescue missions and the more traditional races (downhill speed races and slalom runs). Despite the overwhelming amount of content, most players will probably never be challenged by the game because everything is quite easy.
Things get a little bit more interesting when you play the game with friends or family. The entire solo game can also be played with up to four other people in split-screen mode. While this can be fun there are a pair of problems with We Skiís multiplayer, for one the game can slow down to barely playable levels if there is too much action going on, making it both harder and more frustrating to ski this way. The other problem is hardware based, being as the most fun way to play We Ski is with the Balance Board and that costs $90. So unless you have three addition Boards lying around the house, your friends and family might be left playing the game in the significantly less fun style of play.
In the end though We Ski is a decent piece of software, which benefits heavily from Balance Board support. Itís not going to satisfy hardcore skiing fans but based on its cartoony looks those fans should have known better than to expect anything resembling a skiing simulation. However for the base Wii Fit owning crowd, We Ski could give you more than a few hours of family friendly fun and they might want to think about spending a little time at the Happy Ski Resort.
No Pros and Cons at this time