Name: SSX Tricky
Year Released: 2001
Even though the first SSX game came out in 2000, my first encounter with the series was in the summer of 2002. My brother had just gotten an Xbox for his birthday, I was looking for a game to get for him, and on a whim, I decided to pick up SSX Tricky, which had been released the previous November. I didn’t know much about the series and hadn’t play a new extreme sports game in years, so I don’t know what it was about the cover art that made me decide to buy the game, but I ended up becoming obsessed, playing it more than my brother did and getting insane scores. Several other SSX games have been released since, but Tricky still remains my favorite.
With Pure coming out recently and being called “the SSX of racing games” around the office, it made me want to play my favorite SSX game. Unfortunately, the copy of SSX Tricky I bought six years ago is still with my brother, and I didn’t want to wait until the next time I saw him to borrow it, so I decided to pick up a used copy. It wasn’t available on the Xbox like I wanted, but a used Gamecube copy was only $2.99. Score!
SSX Tricky is an arcade-style snowboarding game, in which the player must perform lots of insane tricks and stunts to gain points and win medals. Increasingly difficult courses are unlocked as you progress, with each one featuring a distinctive landscape in a different part of the world. The two main modes of the game, racing and showoff, offer unique challenges; while racing is somewhat straightforward, with you having to be the first one to reach the finish line, showoff is really where it’s at in this game. In showoff mode, you must reach a predetermined score to get either a bronze, silver, or gold medal; points are obtained by flawlessly performing tricks and riding rails.
To rack up some major points in this game, Über tricks are where it’s at. Über tricks are performed when you fill up your tricky meter by completing tricks and grinding on rails; crash or land badly, and you’ll lose a few rings on the tricky bar. When it’s filled up, you’ll hear a few lines of Run-D.M.C.’s "It’s Tricky" and you will have clearance to perform the more complicated Über tricks, which include things like twirling your board around in the air after a jump, or performing a handstand mid-air before putting yourself right side up. While actually doing these tricks isn’t hard once you’ve mastered the button combinations, actually landing them can be, for lack of a better word, tricky; since they typically take longer to execute than regular tricks, you have to make sure you jump high enough to get the job done.
Though the graphics for this game are not as polished as those for the PS2 or Xbox versions of this game, it still looks pretty good for an early Gamecube game. The only noticeable difference between this version and the ones on other consoles is the controls. On the original Xbox, I remember the controls for SSX Tricky feeling natural and intuitive; keep in mind that the Xbox was still fairly new at this time, and this was one of the first Xbox games I ever played, so getting used to that controller was not easy. This game helped ease the process tremendously. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Gamecube controls. I played the 2005 entry in the series, SSX On Tour, on the Gamecube and never had a problem with the controls, so I was surprised when I had problems almost immediately while playing this game. Nothing works as smoothly as it should, and it takes a lot of getting used to; the Y button, instead of being mapped to tricks, repositions you, and the tiny D-pad is used to turn and flip in midair, which doesn’t always work like it should. It’s not broken by any means, but it’s certainly an annoyance when you’re used to playing a better version of this game.
If not for the subpar controls in this version of the game, SSX Tricky would be damn near perfect. However, once you get used to playing it on the Gamecube, it’s just as much fun as it used to be. Also, for three bucks, there’s really no reason not to own this game, especially if you never got to play it the first time around. While the Gamecube version wouldn’t be the one I would recommend, it’s still worth it if you can’t find any other. My only question is, EA, when are you going to release a new SSX game? We could really use one.