Archive - Dec 2010

December 21st

I Just Had SSX

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OK, I know I'm going to lose a lot of you here. Maybe most of you. But dammit, there's still a few years before either gay soldiers or global warming win the race to destroy America, and until that happens, I'm going to play video games. And back in the day, when I was young and innocent, I played SSX.

That's actually a lie. I never played the original SSX. It was an early Playstation 2 game, and only suckers bought PS2's near launch. What I played, and played the shit out of, on my little Nintendo GameCube, was both the second game in and the pinnacle of that series, SSX Tricky. Ostensibly a snowboarding game, SSX Tricky was to snow what Tony Hawk 2 was to skateboarding. Insane, bright, unrealistic gameplay, intense racing, Macy Gray doing voice work, and of course, Run DMC's "It's Tricky". There was snow, yes, but the snow was largely an accessory to the experience.

Then they released SSX 3, which was on a real mountain with pine trees and rocks where once there were giant fans, skyscrapers, and neon grind tracks suspended 50 feet over the course. Which is stupid. I live in Minneapolis. If I want snow and pine trees, all I have to do is look out my window. Is there a clear plastic tube full of colorful stereotypes on snowboards flying over my house? There is not. Which is why it was nice to have them on my television.

Then there was SSX On Tour, which was like SSX 3, only more of it and boringer. And then there was SSX Blur, which sort of tried to go back to Tricky, but it was an early Wii game, which meant a lot of waving your arms around in the air and then complaining about how you didn't to that. And then SSX went blissfully dormant for a few years. And like any game franchise that lays dormant for a few years, EA brought it back, and premiered a teaser trailer at the Spike Video Game Advertisements With Occasionally Meaningless Awards. And fuck that trailer right in its digital sprocket-holes.

The very first thing you see is text appearing on screen, in that narrow sans-serif font, appearing one letter at a time with accompanying beep, that is the official cultural signifier for MILITARY. Usually elite military covert black ops intelligence wetwork interrogation infiltration tactleneck shit, especially in video games. It reads: "KAGMARA RANGE, HIMALAYAS, 1830 HOURS, DAY 64". You know what people count days from? Something horrible. 28 Days Later. Day 15 of the outbreak. Hostage crises have Day 64's, not snowboarding competitions. Note also the military time and the use of a sort of real-life mountainy place. And then there are helicopters.

Military-surplus-looking helicopters, at the very least. The helicopter door opens, amidst manly grunts and dire warnings of how long the pilot can hold it, and a snowboarder jumps out, carving his way down a dark, foreboding mountainscape full of rocks, pine trees, and road flares. Again, this is all living room window stuff, especially during a snowstorm.

The snowboarder, who lacks a charming Jamaican accent or the Zen calm of a Billy Zane, zags when he should have zigged, announces to his pilot that he is off the path AND that he is not, in fact, going to make it, flies off a cliff, and in the only moment even remotely approaching cool, spreads glider wings. Not proper awesome glider wings like out of a backpack or something, just some webbing between the wrists and ankles.

We are then informed that SSX (rendered in stern, black and grey serif text): Deadly Descents (narrow sans serif, same color scheme) will be coming next winter in a cloud of snow particles and my own spit-flecks of rage.

Look, EA. I want very little in life. The occasional nice meal. New episodes of Archer. And the occasional goofy, technicolor snowboarding game that not only eschews grittiness, but rejects and defies it. I do not want deadly descents! I want awesome, hilarious descents. I do not want light gray rocks over off-white snow against a dark gray sky. If I wanted that, I'd play Call of Fucking Duty. If the reality-fetishising dudes who make Skate want to make a snowboarding game about Deadly Descents, fine. But let someone else make a new SSX game. You can even bring back David Arquette if you have to.

I thought people wanted light, cheery entertainment during tough economic times. Deadly Descents sounds like a Wall Street Journal headline about pension fund balances, not something I want to spend sixty bucks on to kill a few hours before I can't retire because of my deadly descending pension fund balance. But I guess you're gonna make it after all. Dickheads.