Sled Storm (1999 video game)

Sled Storm is a snowmobile racing video game published and developed by Electronic Arts and released in North America on July 31, 1999 and in Europe on August 11, 1999. It gained critical acclaim due to its original concept of being one of the first snowmobile racing titles.

Sled Storm
Sled Storm (1999) Coverart.png
Cover art (North American version)
Developer(s)EA Canada
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Director(s)Heidi Ernest
Eric Lau
Producer(s)Jules Burt
Designer(s)Tony Lee
Programmer(s)John Harvey, Dean Stevenson, Andrea Schiel, Peter Doidge-Harrison, Mark Johnston, Ryan Cleven, John Harvey, Mark Johnson, Peter Doidge-Harrison, Gary Steinke, Yvo Zoer, Tom Heath, Stefan Postuma, Robert Bailey
Artist(s)Tristan Brett
Margaret Livesey
Stephen Rowe
Tom Graham
Composer(s)Robert Bailey
Platform(s)PlayStation
PlayStation 2
(Re-released under EA Sports Big label in 2002)
Release
  • NA: July 31, 1999; 20 years ago (1999-07-31)
  • PAL: August 11, 1999; 20 years ago (1999-08-11)
Genre(s)Racing
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

The game features snowmobiles (referred to as sleds), stunts and fourteen snow-covered courses consisting of slippery slopes, inclement weather and treacherous cliffs. Six racers were selectable from the outset and two more were unlockable, each of which had different snowmobile handling attributes.

GameplayEdit

The game had purchasable upgrades for the riders' snowmobiles which can improve handling, acceleration, among other things. A trick feature was also implemented which was performed by using two shoulder buttons in combination with the direction pad. Whatever combinations of buttons were used would affect what trick was used. It was also possible to multicombo on higher jumps to gain an even higher score. After defeating the mountain races you can unlock the storm sled which is a thin, quick and agile sled capable of outracing even the fastest standard sleds.

Sled Storm offers two forms of racing for both multi-player and solo competition: Championship and Quick Race. Quick Race allows you to jump right into the game on any of the available courses unlocked during the Championship Mode. Players can choose their alter ego from a pool of characters, each with his or her own sled rated in five areas: top speed, acceleration, handling, stability and tricks. Once a player has found the appropriate character, he or she can set the number of laps (from two to nine), time of the race (day or night) and even the weather conditions (clear, snow or rain). Championship Mode involves competing in a series of races that can earn you money as well as open up additional tracks and hidden characters. Two types of championship racing are awaiting you: Open Mountain and the Super SnoCross. The Open Mountain Championship involves straightforward racing down alpine terrain as you try to finish first to receive a cash prize (which can then be used to purchase upgrades in such areas as treads, skis, brakes and spotlights). The Super SnoCross involves racing strictly for points as you string together tricks off the motocross-inspired courses. Earn enough points and you'll be able to unlock additional characters to play as.

Sled Storm also features a Time Trials mode, which has you racing as fast as you can in order to earn a spot on the leader board. Once players have finished the Time Trials, there are a number of customizable features to help tailor the game to individual preferences. After completing a few circuits, you'll be able to mix and match the unlocked courses to form your own custom championship. The AI can also be tweaked by toggling "Catch Up Logic", meaning the CPU-controlled racers will move faster once you pass them. Finally, the multi-player perspective can be set to either a portrait or landscape view to offer more or less of the screen while racing.

Players can also save unlocked characters, upgraded sleds and circuit progress using a memory card with one block free. The game includes support for the DualShock Analog Controller to offer both analog control as well as vibration feedback while racing. In addition, the included soundtrack features songs from the likes of Rob Zombie, Econoline Crush, Überzone, E-Z Rollers and Dom & Roland. Once players are through racing, they can pop the disc into a standard CD player and listen to the music.

DevelopmentEdit

The first game in the Sled Storm series was released on the PlayStation video game console. The extreme racing element of Sled Storm derived from an earlier Electronic Arts game called Road Rash. While the environments and vehicles are completely different (motorcycles versus snowmobiles and the open road versus alpine courses), there are several similarities. Both titles rely on fast-paced racing with a number of hazards placed in the player's path and include the ability to ram opponents off the track. Both also feature cash prizes that allow the player to purchase faster vehicles. The courses were extensively produced as they contained many shortcuts and alternate routes to complete a level. They could be played with day, night, sunny, and snow settings to make each race experience slightly different.

Sled Storm significantly expanded on the number of features found in Road Rash and was one of the few racing titles for the original PlayStation to include four-player support through a PlayStation Multitap and feature split-screen action with more than two players.

Reception and legacyEdit

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
GameRankings83.52%[1]
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame     
CVG5.0/10[2]
EGM8.75/10[3]
Game Informer8.75/10
Game RevolutionA-[5]
GamePro4/5[4]
GameSpot8.1/10[6]
IGN8.0/10[7]
OPM (US)4/5
Play8.5/10
PSM4/5

Sled Storm was met with critical acclaim upon its release on July 31, 1999. The game received an average score of 83% based on 24 reviews on the review aggregator Game Rankings.[1] Alex C of Computer and Video Games gave the game an average score, although he praised the game for having a "killer combination of brilliant programming and an idea fresh as a mountain stream", and also claimed that the "vehicle physics" and "exciting course design" made the game "totally absorbing, plus its great to watch."[2] Electronic Gaming Monthly was positive of the game and commented on how "the crew likes this game – even John, who has previously complained about how horrible Extreme Sports games are and how they all need to die."

The game also received the Game of the Month and the Editor's Choice Silver Award from the publication that same year.[3] GamePro gave the game 4/5 and in the review claimed that "EA offers a user-friendly, high-action racing game for the winter-sports enthusiast who likes to stay warm and cozy" and concluded the review saying, "If you like racing games, check this one out. It's low-maintenance winter sport excitement, with an extreme look and feel. Sled Storm takes snow business seriously!"[4]

Game Revolution described the game as "a pleasant surprise" and cited that the game "has plenty of big tracks, a variety of tricks and upgrades, and multiplayer support," and also explained how "The level design and character animation are also commendable. The levels are long and showcase a great variety of terrain and creative jumps"; the review also praised the audio, claiming, "the sound effects are good enough to keep your heart pounding as you wind the turns," ending the review with, "If you are a snowmobile racing fan looking for a snowmobile racing game, then Sled Storm is a must buy. Look no further, this game is for you."[5]

Nelson Turac of GameSpot awarded the game a score of 8.1 of 10 and praised the general aspects of the game, saying that "the speed, control, and graphics seem to strike an excellent rapport with the gameplay design. The game runs at a crisp frame rate throughout the track, with never any slowdown (even in split-screen mode)" and later applauding the visual effects: "The graphics overall look solid, and some lighting effects are rather impressive - notably in later stages when night racing becomes available (another challenge gamers must adapt to)." He also praised the audio, saying, "Their musical offerings blend in well with the game's intense racing mentality, while the sound effects and racer trash-talk seem adequate enough." He concluded that “any gamer looking for a uniquely fresh adrenaline rush, Sled Storm makes for one very worthy purchase".[6]

Doug Perry of IGN awarded the game 8.0/10 and commended the game, saying that he “liked this game from the beginning. It's well designed, smart looking, and realistic as they come." He also added that "From the slick, easy-to-access interface, to the muscular upgrade system, to the deep, well-designed courses, Sled Storm is addictive and fun."[7]

Sled Storm is often recognized as the key title involved in popularizing the snow racing game genre. The idea of the player being able to compete in several different Arctic environments, not only with yourself but with several other players, and perform several different stunts and tricks has been a formula used in many games since. Examples include Ski-doo X-team Racing, Sno-Cross Extreme, Evolution Snocross, SSX and Arctic Thunder. The game is also arguably the reason that EA Sports BIG was introduced in the year 2000 as several other titles were created around the design and gameplay of the original Sled Storm[vague].

SoundtrackEdit

Sled Storm included a soundtrack which could be played on a normal CD player.

  1. Rob Zombie – "Dragula (Hot Rod Herman Remix)"
  2. Econoline Crush – "Sparkle And Shine (Throttle Mix)"
  3. Econoline Crush – "Nowhere Now (White Out Mix)"
  4. Econoline Crush – "Surefire (Avalanche Mix)"
  5. E-Z Rollers – "Cop Theme"
  6. Dom & Roland – "Chained On Two Sides"
  7. Dom & Roland – "Thunder"
  8. Überzone – "Botz (Synthetik Remix)"
  9. Jeff van Dyck – "Sweet Baby"
  10. Jeff van Dyck – "That's Grouse"

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Sled Storm for PlayStation - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Sled Storm Review". CVG. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Sled Storm - PlayStation Review at EGM". Electronic Gaming Monthly. September 9, 1999. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Sled Storm Review from GamePro". GamePro. January 1, 2000. Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Sled Storm Review for the PS". Game Revolution. September 1, 1999. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Neslo Turac (August 11, 1999). "Sled Storm Review for PlayStation - GameSpot". GameSpot. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Doug Perry (August 24, 1999). "Sled Storm - PlayStation Review at IGN". IGN. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2010.