SSX is a snowboarding video game, the first in the SSX series. It was developed by EA Canada and published by EA Sports BIG for the PlayStation 2 in October 2000. It was the first title released under the EA Sports BIG publishing label, which specialized in extreme sports titles with an arcade feel.
|Publisher(s)||EA Sports BIG|
SSX received widespread critical acclaim and commercial success, while also receiving numerous industry awards and was widely regarded by critics as one of the standouts of the PlayStation 2's launch library. The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences gave SSX five awards, including "Console Sports Game of The Year" and "Racing Game of The Year". The executive producer and creative leader of SSX was Steve Rechtschaffner, who was also the inventor of the now Olympic snowboard event called Boardercross, which served as the inspiration for the game.
Subsequent titles in the SSX series include, in order of release: SSX Tricky, SSX 3, SSX on Tour, SSX Blur, and a reboot released in 2012, SSX. Rechtschaffner lead the development of SSX, SSX Tricky and SSX3 before moving into the Chief Creative Officer role for EA Canada. He had no involvement in the other titles in the series.
Players may choose one of a number of riders, each with their own statistics and boarding style. A course is selected, and the player is given the option of racing down the course or participating in a competition to do tricks.
Each course is filled with ramps, rails, jumps, and other assorted objects. Performing tricks fills up the player's boost meter, which can then be used for additional acceleration, making tricks important even in a race. While some tricks do have origins in snowboarding, many of the more advanced tricks are not realistic to actual physics. This matters little in games of this style, as the larger and more extreme tricks count for the most points and are the most spectacular to execute. Players also have the option of practicing or exploring courses in "freeride" mode.
There are a total of eight playable characters. The playable characters are Mac Fraser, Moby Jones, Elise Riggs, Kaori Nishidake, Jurgen Angermann, JP Arsenault, Zoe Payne, and Hiro Karamatsu. Mac, Moby, Elise, and Kaori are available at the start, while the other four are unlocked by earning gold medals. Earning the first gold medal unlocks Jurgen, the second gold medal unlocks JP, the third gold medal unlocks Zoe, and the fourth gold medal unlocks Hiro.
The game received "universal acclaim" according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. In Japan, where the game was ported for release under the title X-treme Racing SSX (エクストリーム・レーシングSSX Exusutorīmu Rēshingu SSX) on October 26, 2000 (four days before its North American release date), Famitsu gave it a score of 32 out of 40.
GameSpot praised the game's smooth graphics and direct controls, while also drawing attention to the game's dynamic soundtrack, which adjusts the intensity of the background music based on the player's current performance. IGN's review drew attention to the game's deft balancing of tricks and racing, asserting that a mastery of both is a requirement of success in the game. It also mentions the game's tracks as a strong point, calling the Tokyo Megaplex level "a festival of lights, color and one of the most ingeniously designed levels that have ever been in a game." Both reviews noted the presence of some graphical slowdown, but also stated that it was a rare occurrence and only a minor issue.
GameCritics cited the scope of the game's tracks as a strength, but pointed out that there is little revolutionary in the game's overall premise of snowboard races. The 'pre-wind' jump system was also criticised, in that to ensure a good jump, the player must sacrifice the ability to steer long before they reach the ramp. However, the site did praise the simplicity of the trick system itself, and called the game "an all-around solid title".
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