Name: Cool Boarders 2
Year Released: 1997
Cool Boarders 2 is actually not the game I was planning to use for Throwback Thursday today. I was looking forward to playing the original Tomb Raider, which has been sitting impatiently on my desk for days. Like many of the games I review for Throwback, Tomb Raider came from my own collection, and since I take pretty good care of my games, I’ve never had a problem before. This morning, I finally popped it in the office PS3, to find out that it didn’t work, instead getting stuck on a black screen. After looking through a stack of random PlayStation games collecting dust at Gamervision HQ, I picked Cool Boarders 2 because I thought it might be fun to play a simple, entertaining extreme sports game. As it turns out, I thought wrong.
As you probably guessed from the title, Cool Boarders 2 is the second game in a snowboarding series that originated on the PlayStation in 1996. Released several years before the start of the Tony Hawk and SSX series, the extreme sports market was a little less crowded back in those days, especially when it came to snowboarding. Cool Boarders 2 allows you to choose one of four characters (or, later, from the unlockable secret characters) and make your way down a mountain or around a halfpipe. Along the way, you’ll “bust” tricks while trying to finish in the shortest possible time, racking up lots of points along the way. It’s fairly standard and doesn’t do anything particularly unique, other than a ghost mode that challenges you to try to beat your own previous attempt.
The first thing I noticed about this game was how poorly it has aged. I mean, I play older games on a regular basis, and I can appreciate antiquated graphics better than just about anyone here at Gamervision. However, the indistinguishable characters and jagged, constantly clipping levels made this one hard on the eyes. I actually thought it must have been one of the earliest PS1 titles, but it came out a couple of years into the system’s lifespan; there were PlayStation games released the same year, or a year or two before, that looked remarkably better. The soundtrack (or lack thereof) didn’t do much to excite either, with only a handful of songs to hear while an annoying announcer tells you how cool or uncool you are.
Of course, I would have overlooked all of that if Cool Boarders 2 had played a little better, but it was a disaster from the start. The controls are not intuitive at all. In fact, they’re the complete opposite of intuitive. At times it felt like there was peanut butter stuck to the bottom of my board, and nothing about the control scheme feels natural. I’ve played a good amount of snowboarding and skateboarding games going all the way back to the NES, and I don’t think I’ve ever had so much trouble trying to string a few cohesive tricks together. Part of this can be attributed to the lack of analog controls, which is not the fault of the game, as it preceded the first DualShock controller by about a year. However, even after trying to use the D-pad and shoulder buttons, the controls are barely passable. There is a fine line between challenging and frustrating, and Cool Boarders 2 falls on the side of frustration.
I can understand why Cool Boarders 2 was fairly well received eleven years ago, but unlike many games of the same era, this one has not stood the test of time. Terrible visuals and even worse controls make playing this game something of a chore. If you’re looking for a PlayStation-era extreme sports game (for some reason), you can do a lot better than this one. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the SSX series, but I didn’t find Cool Boarders 2 to be cool at all.