SBK: Snowboard Kids (Nintendo DS) Review

By James Temperton 28.04.2006

We loved the N64 original of this game, it was one of those hugely underrated and unknown titles that every so often you remember about and just have to go back and play. Thus, when a DS version was announced, we turned the snow yellow with excitement. Having played it for the last week or two we have come to one conclusion; it should have been left well alone...

Basically, this is Mario Kart without the wheels, but something has gone hideously wrong. The game is the gaming manifestation of annoyance. We would be the first to admit that games should be challenging, but first and foremost they should be fair and rely on skill, not blind luck and button mashing. SBK: Snowboard Kids just feels remarkably lacking in everything that should be in this sort of game...

Things don't get off to a good start. The game boots up, we touch the screen and hear the words "NO MORE KIDS" bellowed at us by a chorus of pre-pubescent scraps. We presume they are meant to be shouting "SNOWBOARD KIDS" at us, but it sure doesn't sound like it. Things don't get much better, you are then greeted with the main menu, every time you select an option a very masculine American voice tells you what it is, the problem being it sounds like each word was recorded individually and then stuck together. Still, a bad menu does not make a bad game...

Screenshot for SBK: Snowboard Kids on Nintendo DS

But bad gameplay does. The DS is blessed with so many innovative and excellent features, yet SBK seems hell-bent in using them in the most banal ways. The controls are sloppy, and moving about using the D-Pad is very difficult at times, we found ourselves jerking around the screen and failing to be able to move in the way we wanted, no matter how hard we tried. The total absence of touch-screen in the main controls is totally baffling, with only the tricky system benefiting. Most tricks are done by frantically hitting every button you can reach, but in some special cases, you have to use the touch-screen to tap coloured areas in sequence to pull off amusingly complex and elaborate tricks.

Screenshot for SBK: Snowboard Kids on Nintendo DS

What really makes the experience so hideous isn't the controls or the lack of touch-screen implementation, but the weaponry and the devious sodding opponents/computer. For some odd reason, this game punishes you for doing well. You'll be racing along in first place, quite happy and suddenly you'll be frozen, put to sleep and hit by a giant comical weight, three people will overtake you and you'll be left with an ASBO for foul and abusive language. The weapons just aren't fun, they stop you being able to race, they either flatten you or stop you from steering and there is no skill involved in deploying them. Weapons are contained in hideous looking giant red boxes, you drive through them and off goes the weapon to main someone.

When a fireball hits you, you are thrown up into the air in a massive explosion (as you might expect), you land on your face and discover something: it just isn't fun. When you are put to sleep (stopping you from steering) you have to blow (or rub...) the microphone to wake up your 'boarder, a nice idea in theory, but when you have to blow so much that you start spitting all over your DS it somewhat destroys any of the fun it promised...

Screenshot for SBK: Snowboard Kids on Nintendo DS

Graphically, SBK is good enough, but nothing wonderful. Certain aspects are blocky and ugly and most of the special effects look fairly awful. It just doesn't look like its fun; it lacks any character and feels a bit uninspired. Simply, this game just looks a bit dogged. Add to that a soundtrack and set of sound effects that will boil your blood and it is rapidly loosing points. The music is annoyingly frantic and never seems to change, and the characters squeak at you in high-pitched voices that we don't quite understand; they could easily be speaking English or Japanese, we just don't know...

As far as extra game modes go, slalom and boss battle just about make up the options, which is somewhat disappointing. There is also a shop, where you can buy loads of extras, new boards, cheats and new characters galore; so if you have the endurance to keep playing and unlock everything there is a fair bit of life in this title.

Multiplayer fails to add any more fun to proceedings. Admittedly, you no longer have to race against a cheating twit of a computer, but you still have to deal with three mates hitting you with weapons that stop you from being able to play the game, which after ten minutes or so just gets boring. You can do both single-cart and multi-cart link-up play, but the options in single-cart are limited.

Screenshot for SBK: Snowboard Kids on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


We are really disappointed by this game, having gone back and played the N64 original we are certain that it was never this bad before, so something has gone critically wrong in moving it to the DS. The gameplay is good enough, above average even, but the weapons system makes it totally devoid in any sort of skill, infuriating and annoying. It looks cheap, it sounds cheap and it leaves us feeling like we've been continually pelted in the groin by snowballs. A real shame, but we just can't recommend it...


Rising Star


Rising Star





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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