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X Awards

SSX on Tour

SSX on Tour (original working title: SSX 4) is a snowboarding video game, the fourth title in the SSX series of video games for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, PSP and Xbox. It was released in North America on October 11 2005 and was released in the United Kingdom on October 21, 2005. The PSP version was released in the UK on October 28, 2005. Unlike its predecessor SSX 3, On Tour isn't currently backwards-compatible with the Xbox 360.

The GameCube version differs from other versions since there is an exclusive track called Nintendo Village, and Nintendo characters Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach are available as playable characters. They also make an appearance in another EA Sports game, NBA Street V3.

The PSP version also differs greatly from the main console versions, with limited customization to custom-characters. It also has omitted the use of bonuses on the special "Monster Tricks".

Gameplay

The actual gameplay itself in SSX on Tour is similar to SSX3, with similar controls and the overall aims of events remaining the same - snowboard down a mountain whilst gaining points for various tricks that can be performed. After each trick, a player's "boost bar" builds up, and once full enables a player to perform special moves - known as "Monster Tricks" now, previously known as "Über tricks".

Despite the similarities, numerous changes were made to the structure of races and events themselves. Players can now create their own characters, selecting his/her symbol, makeup, height, clothes and hair, in addition to whether they are a snowboarder or a skier (skiing being a new feature in the game). Once created, their 'boarder can compete in official competitions (known as "Events"), or unofficial challenges known as "Shreds". Each completed event or challenge gains their character "Hype", raising their profile and moving them up the SSX charts, with the ultimate goal of reaching number one.

With the focus now on custom-created characters, the original SSX cast is moved into the background slightly, appearing in various Shreds against the player, and available to play as when not on the Tour itself. In addition to seven returning SSX veterans, three new characters make an appearance: Tyson, Sid, and Skye. Some characters have to be unlocked to be used.

Unlike its predecessor, SSX3, no online play was included on any of the versions of SSX On Tour. The main focus was on improving the single-player storyline mode, implementing the character-creation system, the selection of new tracks, and the addition of skiing as well as snowboarding.

Style

This game is presented in the style of a sketch-book, a new direction for the SSX series. The cover artwork as well as the in-game menus are all shown in sketch formats, simplistic images often on a lined background. The special in game collectibles, displayed simply as snowflakes in previous SSX games, have been replaced with sketchlike doodles known as "skulvis", continuing the theme.

This style was continued to an extent on the actual races themselves, with the graphics smoothed down from SSX3, helping to improve frame rates and to keep the overall feel of the game as fresh as possible. New effects were also added, such as a blurring effect when racers reach a certain speed, similar to the effect used in Burnout 3, another game released by Electronic Arts.

Critical reception

SSX on Tour received positive reviews from critics on the whole. Gamespot gave it 8.7/10, noting that the game's style was "unlike anything the series has seen before", and that it "expertly balances the fresh and the familiar", and "creates an engrossing experience that will have fans falling for SSX all over again". In addition, Metacritic's review system has produced a rating of 81/100 for the game, based on a large number of critic's reviews.

However, the game has its detractors. The game was viewed by fans as bland and lacking the personality of the other SSX titles. The characters don't speak or have unique monster tricks at all. There are also far less Monster Tricks (referred to in SSX Tricky and SSX 3 as "Uber Tricks") in SSX On Tour than in Tricky and 3. Some see it as being more geared towards newcomers to the series, and longer running fans of the series feel that they have been short-changed with the exclusion of what made SSX games stand out from other snowboarding titles, such as being able to play the campaign mode ("The Tour" in this game) with returning characters. This is mainly attributed to the fact that SSX on Tour has a create-a-character-type mode, while the previous games had a lineup of characters with unique personalities.

One of the biggest gripes among fans was the lack of a "Merqury City" track in the game. This track was present in SSX Tricky and SSX3, and was structured around a huge city lit with neon lights, allowing for more variety in tracks. The lack of diversity among the tracks present in SSX on Tour was something that previous fans disliked, despite the various improvements in terms of the numbers of short-cuts and track lengths in general. X-Play gave it a 3/5.

Credit list

Sean Smillie, one of the game's producers and writers, was a snowboarder and an instructor at Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort for many years, before entering the video game world. Similarly, writer and voice actor Ross Tweedale grew up at Red Resort, and has skied in both hemispheres, Canada, U.S., Australia & Europe.

The line "Canine Snipers", used by the "Ski Patrol" during the game, was originally intended to be "...canine and snipers...". During recording, Ross Tweedale misread it, yet the producers found it amusing and kept it in the game. Interestingly, of the voice actors, only Michael Dobson & Alistair Abell reprised their roles from SSX 3.

Producers

  • Executive Producer - Steve Barcia
  • Producers - Steve Anthony, Sean Smillie
  • Technical Advisor - Felix Mulderrig

Writers

Voice Cast

Soundtrack

One of the most notable features of every game in the SSX series has been the soundtracks used, usually featuring prominently in the games. Like SSX Tricky and SSX3, SSX on Tour features a licensed soundtrack, including rap, punk, rock and alternative music styles. The prominence of punk and rock is a departure from the more techno-heavy soundtracks of previous games in the series.

The soundtrack is integrated with the game rather than used as a background to it. Tracks used on the menu screens play only as instrumental versions of the ones used during races. In addition, when performing "Monster Tricks" during an event, the music will fade away, to be replaced with the sound of the wind whistling by as the player cuts through the air. Upon hitting the ground again, the music cuts back in, enhancing the sensations of the game.

"*" Means is in Blur version.

Awards and nominations

SSX On Tour won the following awards:

It was also nominated for:

Merqury City board

As a bonus to the long time fans of the SSX series, Electronic Arts included a fan-made snowboard and ski design in SSX On Tour. The "Merqury City" Snowboard and "Merqury Ultimates" skis was designed by a fan from the SSX Fan Site Merqury City named Nicholas Murga (a.k.a. Royank). This board is the best board in the game, giving the player maximum stats such as speed, edging, tricks and stability.

External links

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