Back when Snowboard Kids showed up on the game-starved N64, it had a certain charm that outweighed its most obvious flaws. Yes, it was the slowest racing game we'd ever seen, and no, it wasn't the prettiest.
The characters were a bunch of cartoon 10-year-olds and after the halfway mark, when the game's designers must have got tired of drawing snowy mountains, your pre-teen snowboard genius would be sliding over green meadows, sandy deserts, and cherry blossom-strewn Japanese lanes. Snowboard Kids was proud to be different and we loved it. Which is why it's such a shame to see how shy it has become in this rather belated DS sequel.
Grassy hills and fields of yellow flowers? Ousted in favour of snow, snow, concrete and snow. Snowboard Kids was never really about 'extreme' sport, but now it seems like whoever resurrected this wonderful but obscure series was just a little embarrassed by it. Anyway, what was once Mario Kart on snow is now SSX with weapons - which isn't actually a bad thing. You've got a very small selection of wide, steep courses, which you hurtle down at the kind of speed that would have made the original game soil its pants.
Each character has a special homing weapon, which must be charged up by performing tricks. This thing never misses, homing in from half a course away as surely as a Mario Kart blue shell, although you can deflect it by doing a trick at the moment of impact. As well as the standard racing events, some slalom and boss levels are also thrown in from time to time. Slalom involves collecting gems and weaving through checkpoint hoops, and is generally a pretty decent sort of challenge.
Unfortunately, the boss levels, which involve shooting snowballs at a large, robotic turkey, are severely rubbish. There's no racing involved, only sliding down a hill, and hopping left-right-left-right until you've charged up your snowball to fire at the boss. Anyway, the actual races are great, which is why it's such a pity that it's let down by some half-hearted design. High scores? Nope. Time trials? Not in this game. Yet for some reason, the SBK cart has been residing in our DS for the past week or so. Perhaps those kids haven't completely lost all their old charm after all.