While we enjoyed Shaun White's previous outing on Wii, we had some reservations about whether it would be successful. Well, it looks like we got told, as the game sold well and there's a sequel that has been produced exclusively for Wii, which we did think was remarkably better than its next-gen counterpart. So, Shaun White is back along with his buddies to get you back on that balance board and making a fool of yourself once again. But is it as fun the second time around?
The premise of Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage is simple enough. Shaun White and the collection of assorted characters from the first game are taking their sights to the World Stage, and as such are competing in worldwide snowboarding events to increase their rank, from #100 to somewhere in the top 5. The cutscenes are cartoonish and happy-go-lucky, which seem to indicate that this is a title squarely aimed at a younger audience. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact it's probably a good thing considering the melodramatic stories that could have otherwise arisen. Just look at Tony Hawk.
The main menu of the game is where you'll find the most significant changes. The front-end is presented as an airport lounge, as you await to be taken off to one of several countries. From here you can select the stages you want to play, as well as view any achievements you've unlocked and compare the statistics of your characters. In the main single-player campaign, you're given a few in-game days to compete in certain events in certain countries, in which you can earn up to three stars per event. Earning stars increases your rank, which means that your progression into the top 5 is a lot faster than you may think. In fact, the campaign is remarkably short, and most will comfortably finish it over a weekend. However, there are multiplayer options for those so inclined, including an enjoyable co-operative mode for the campaign as well as four-player competitive matches.
The gameplay itself still works very well. As with the last game, you can select a main character, as well as a supporting character who supposedly follows you with the game's camera, but also gives a boost to a certain statistic, such as making you jump higher or go faster. Using a regular Wii Remote, the game is responsive and allows you to pull off a variety of tricks with ease, with some interesting course designs that offer plenty of opportunities to grind and catch some air. Most of what you do is controlled via motion, with the A and B buttons only used for tricks, and everything feels very fluid. Of course, if you are in possession of a Balance Board, then you'll be able to hop on it and pretend as if you're riding a snowboard for real. Just as the last game, this control method is also very responsive, as it responds to your changes in posture and weight pretty accurately, making it easy to perform jumps and turns.
Another accessory which some of you may have is the Wii Motion Plus, which is also used in this game, although not in the way you might think. Rather than being used in-game during the various events, which include races, half pipes and elimination events, it's used to design tricks. Using the Trick Machine in the airport lounge, you can twist your Wii Remote with the Motion Plus attached to move the snowboard around on-screen, essentially creating your own tricks. You can even replace your character's entire set-list with user-created tricks, which is very cool, although the fact that the peripheral isn't used beyond this is a little disappointing.
The graphics are bright and colourful, although simple and cartoonish as mentioned before. While this means that there isn't a high level of detail, it does mean that there are some wacky locations strewn throughout the game, and that course-objects and rails are easy to discern and prepare for. Overall, it's quite attractive for a Wii game. The soundtrack is also full of licensed kid-friendly songs, but unfortunately there aren't a great number of them, which can lead to a fair amount of repetition in extended play sessions. Voice acting is of Saturday morning cartoon quality.
Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage does have a couple of differences to its predecessor, namely the Motion Plus trick creator and the world-wide scope of its levels. However, beyond those it feels mainly the same, and seeing as we've played through Road Trip only a year ago, there's an overwhelming sense of 'been here done that'. That doesn't stop the game from being fun for newcomers, or for kids who'll most likely be the ones who extract the most out of this title, particularly if they have a Balance Board and Wii Motion Plus. The gameplay is smooth, the visuals are slick, but the advances from last year's title are only really cosmetic, which make World Stage a fun ride, but not a lasting one.