We Ski Review

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Descriptive Text Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Namco Bandai Games

Platform: Wii
Reviewed on Wii

Feel like a ski vacation? How about a trip to the Happy Ski Resort, where thousands of skiers of all ages are enjoying the 14 groomed trails of fresh powder. Start by taking lessons at the ski school and graduate to the hardest slopes on the mountain. Ski freely (around the mountain's many casual skiers) or talk to other skiers to partake in races, tasks or just pleasant conversation.

Kyle Ackerman

We Ski is much more like a weekend ski vacation than it is a game. While quite an entertaining way to spend time, and filled with game-ish elements, We Ski is really part of that new class of games focused on providing casual gamers with an experience rather than pursuing achievement-oriented hardcore gamers. Like in Endless Ocean, where the goal is to enjoy scuba diving, in We Ski, the real goal is to have a good time carving powder.

Keep Your Knees Together!

We SkiThe control scheme in We Ski is easily its most impressive feature. Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, players mimic the motions of skiing to do everything from shuffling upslope and snowplowing to pulling tight turns and radical air tricks. There is easily as much complexity and depth to the control scheme as in other skiing and snowboarding games, but it's more like you are manipulating your ski poles than hitting combinations of buttons. To crouch, you rotate and tuck the controllers as if putting ski poles in your arm pits, and to regain your balance you flail about like a skier who just hit a patch of mud. As a result, this surprisingly sophisticated control scheme is easier for some non-gamers to learn than experienced gamers.

After a few minutes in the in-depth ski school (that is one of the better tutorials around) and a run down the bunny slope, I was good to go, and started cruising around the Happy Ski Resort. And it's a lot like a real ski resort As I sailed down the mountain, sometimes a fearless five-year old would go careening past. Other times I had to avoid clusters of happily chatting ski bunnies or beginner skiers gently snowplowing back and forth across the slope. Also like a recreational ski trip, We Ski is best enjoyed in a group. If you have enough Wii Remotes and Nunchuks, you can travel in a group of four, playing and cavorting in the snow with friends.

Take Your Time and Enjoy the Mountain

We SkiVisually, We Ski matches the style of other Wii titles, particularly games like Wii Sports. You can create a new skier or use existing Miis, but either way, stylized characters will cruise down a cheerful and slightly stylized mountain. Slopes, powder and trails through the snow tend toward realism while buildings are pleasantly simplified and cartoonish, as are the thought bubbles with which other characters express their interest in holding a conversation The music is cheerful, with that cheerful '50s jazz or lounge music vibe the Wii seems to demand. But the wind and air rushing past your skier's ears as you hit top speed is beautifully represented by the sound design.

The game is set up so that you can indulge in races right from the main menu, but really this title is meant to be experienced by selecting the "Freestyle" option and heading right to the mountain. By talking to people on the slopes, many activities can be initiated. Some are as simple as downhill and slalom races. Other tasks might involve locating lost children, delivering food or performing certain high-flying tricks. But most of We Ski's fun involves cruising the slopes, avoiding other skiers and playing at your own pace.

Stars Aren't as Important as They Seem

We SkiIn a nod to more typical game dynamics, We Ski does award stars for performing certain activities. Delivering a burger, beating another skier in a race or just skiing well down a slope all earn stars, and those stars allow you to unlock more stylish ski gear. If you use a Mii, then goggles and hats are disabled, but you'll still be able to outfit your skier as you see fit once you have enough stars. Most challenges aren't difficult for an experienced gamer, making them satisfying for beginners.

The real limiting factor is physical fitness. It would be easy to earn most stars in a matter of hours, except that swinging the remotes gets tiring after a time. Besides, the point is to casually explore and ski with friends, not to power through the entirety of the Happy Ski Resort.

We SkiIf you know a Wii owner (or parent of a Wii owner) with a fondness for skiing but who lacks the time or budget to travel and get lift tickets, We Ski really is a fun alternative. Best of all, We Ski supports the Wii Balance Board that should reach North America later this month. We Ski plus the Wii Balance Board should be a great workout and an intuitive (and lighthearted) skiing experience.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on May 13, 2008 5:14 PM.

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