Cool Boarders on the Dreamcast. That just has a certain ring to it; no more choppy snow animation, no more low frame-rates, and, best-of-all, more than one stinkin' half-pipe! I'll admit, Cool Boarders 2 was my favorite snowboarding game yet and the possibilities of what the Dreamcast version could bring into this tiring series were staggering. Well, the wait is now over but the results are not as good as I have wished.
The graphics are amazing, simply beautiful textures, lush landscapes, and plenty of snow to go around. You have never seen a snowboarding game that even begins to look like this. The framerate glides along at a smooth 60 fps with only two minor exceptions that I've encountered; the beginning of course five and sometimes for a split second near the middle of the second course.
The character models are impressive with each having their own distinct personality, from Bob "The laughing Rastafarian" to Tia "Cutey tricks babe". There are six characters when you start the game and three more to be unlocked by beating course records. Each character has three outfits, two to start out with, while the secret characters only have their two original outfites. My only complaints with the characters is that there are some obvious polygon joint protrusions and they don't consist of near enough animation. Also, there are not any free flowing clothes from the likes of VF3 or Soul Calibur. On the other hand, the boards from the game all have nice designs with nine to start out with in three diffirent modes, rising to a total of twenty-one after unlocking all the secret boards. The three diffirent classes of boards, freestyle, all-around, and alpine, all respond in very distinct ways. Freestyle boards have great control, the all-arounds are a nice balance between control and speed, while alpines are all about tearing down the hills at insane speeds. Unfortunatly the board editor from Cool Boarders 2 did not make it into Cool Boarders Burrrn.
The music and sound effects in this game are superb. Each character has their own music track which fits them perfectly. The tracks range from hard rock to thumping techno beats with a little Reggae thrown into the mix also. If there is a Cool Boarders Burrnn soundtrack I will be one of the first to pick it up. The sound effects are right up there with the music. You can hear the differences in the levels of snow, birds chirping in the surrounding trees, and the occasional hilocopter flying overhead. All of the sound effects are at a nice high sample rate for your listening pleasure, it's nice to see more people take advantage of the Dreamcast's high powered sound chip.
The control in this game is top notch. Moving your boarder is done almost instinctivly, it even gives you a choice between the Dreamcast's analog or digital controls. Pulling tricks off is an art in Burrrn! and therefore takes a few days worth of practice before you start tearing up the hills. Unfortunantly, the shoddy control layout does not help out the trick situation. Using the right-trigger to pull of tricks is a pain, good thing Uep Systems gave us the option of changing the control layout.
This is definently the part where Cool Boarders Burrrn does not shine, the play modes. There is no competition mode against the computer. All you can do is race against the clock and try beating those trick totals. Why Uep Systems omited such a vital play mode is beyond me. There are a total of five courses, two superpipes, and also two secret courses to play once you beat the original five courses. This might seem like a small number of courses but each one is huge, offering multiple routes and trick areas. The learning curve on this game is steep (superpipe steep!), you must master each course before you can unlock the next. This requires both good speed and trick totals. Lastly, there is a competition mode for two players where you can select the winning requirements either being time, total, or a combination of the two.
While this game definently has its faults it's still a great game, just lacking in a few key areas. If you enjoyed any of the previous Cool Boarders you should have a great time with Burrrn, and if you are new to the Cool Boarders series be sure to give this game a spin, even for the graphics and music alone. Just don't expect the most well-rounded snowboarding game out on the market today.
The following is a condensed review of Cool Boarders Burrrn
Graphics: 88 (Slightly dated, but still Dreamcast quality)
Sound: 95 (This is where Burrrn excels, near-perfect audio)
Playability: 78 (Ouch! Where did the competition mode go? Great control, Sloppy trick layout)
Lastability: 78 (It will last you a few weeks, but what is there to keep you coming back after you unlock all the courses?)
Overall: 80 (It's a fun game, just lacking in a few key departments)
Note: Cool Boarders Burrrn will be hitting the US sometime in November under the new title of "Rippin' Riders". This is because of Sony's ownership of the Cool Boarders name in North America. Look for Rippin' Riders to be nearly identical to its Japanese counter-part.
Cool Boarders Movie
Review By: Mike Tausch