Flaky motion controls and an irritating cast of characters suck most of the fun out of this lackluster boarding game.
- Good level design
- Fun split-screen mode.
- Inaccurate controls
- Annoying characters
- Boring art style
- Pointless power-ups.
While traditional snowboards won't take you much further than down a snow-covered mountain, crossboards suffer from no such limitations. In Crossboard 7--known as Adrenaline Misfits in the US--you glide your way over a variety of terrain, including rivers, sand dunes, and muddy swamps. While this might seem like an invitation for all manner of exciting environments and challenges, the reality is rather different. An uninspired art style makes levels look dull, while an irritating set of characters will have you grinding your teeth in annoyance. There's some fun to be had with standard races--particularly when played with friends--but erratic controls stop you from enjoying all the game has to offer.
The world of Crossboard 7 is inhabited by a group of anthropomorphic animals known as the misfits. The leader of the group is Sabre, a wolflike creature who guides you through a brief tutorial that teaches you the basics of board control. You stand sideways as if on a snowboard; you lean your body to steer, jump to jump, and twist to initiate tricks. Sadly, the accuracy of these controls is less than consistent, lacking the precision of a control pad. Sometimes you glide down the slopes with ease, but other times, you veer all over the place, bashing into walls while desperately trying to find the center position that keeps you on a straight path. This inaccuracy is also felt when launching off the start line. It requires you to move from a face-on position to a sideways one to set off and is rarely recognised, which means you end up significantly behind your opponents after the race has only just begun.
This lack of precision doesn't affect all of the game's modes--there's fun to be had in standard races and distance jumping challenges, where you donít need such fine control over the board to make it down the slope. The jumping challenges are especially fun, requiring you to get the highest jump possible by sticking your arms out to glide your character through the air. However, trying to collect coloured balloons in Balloon Buster mode and navigate flags in Downhill Slalom mode is an exercise in frustration. High-scoring Trick Score slopes also feature grind rails that require a huge amount of luck just to mount because you can never control your board precisely enough. Fortunately, grinds aren't required to complete trick levels, and you can get all the points you need from standard jumping tricks. Sadly, these become boring very quickly, with your twisting motions only launching a couple of 360-degree spins and backflips. You can augment these with grabs by lifting your leg up, though that too quickly becomes tiresome.
Only the standard racing trials are unlocked from the start of the game, so you have to spend some time working your way through them to unlock the more esoteric events. As you progress, you encounter power-ups, which you launch by lifting your leg up to charge and then slamming onto the floor to fire. However, it's never explained what the power-ups do, so you're instantly left puzzled as to whether your fired shot had any effect at all. Most seem to knock opponents over or slow them down, though the majority of time, they simply fly over their heads. As well as events and power-ups, you can unlock new misfits to play as, new crossboards of varying speed, and new tracks, as well as strength and jumping power. This is more of a punishment than a reward, though, because the misfits themselves are incredibly irritating. None more so than your guide through the game, Sabre, whose stereotypical dim surfer dude begins to grate quickly. Words like "dude," "gnarly," and "radical" crop up in every other sentence, which is made worse by the fact that the lines are repeated during races as he attempts to give you encouragement.
The game fares better when it comes to visuals, though the characters suffer from the same stereotyping as their speech. The various brightly coloured frogs, wolves, and dragons are well designed--if a little freaky looking--but their ripped jeans and baggy T-shirts end up making them look like generic extreme-sports characters. The environments suffer the same fate, with little to differentiate them, other than the type of surface you're boarding on. There's the odd cactus thrown in on desert events and a few plants on swamps, but more often than not, you're just watching the same repeated textures fly past. The courses themselves are well designed, though, with plenty of twists, turns, and jumps to navigate. There are also shortcuts to discover for sneaking round opponents and launching surprise attacks, which make racing in the smooth two-player split-screen mode the most fun and competitive aspect of the game. As well as races, you can play any of the other events you've unlocked in the career mode via split-screen. The added competitiveness when playing with friends makes many of the events much more enjoyable, and there are additional boards and courses to unlock.
Unfortunately, the fun split-screen mode isn't going to keep you amused for extended periods of time, and the dull and sometimes frustrating single-player isn't there to pick up the slack. The erratic controls make some of the events extremely difficult, the art style is very generic, and the characters try far too hard to be cool, which no amount of good level design can overcome. Unless you're desperate for a Kinect boarding experience and have some friends to play with, Crossboard 7 is best left to shred the slopes alone.