Apparently, some Y2K consultant has made a mint by advising video-game companies that the only way to survive the new millennium... is to make a snowboarding game. How else can anyone explain why every game maker (and its respective mother) has flooded the market with variants on this extreme sport?
Whether the video-game market needs more snowboarding titles is up for debate. Regardless, Capcom has joined the fray with Trick'n Snowboarder, an arcade-style speed-and-tricks reflex tester that's high on playability - if low on originality. Although pessimists may accuse Capcom of milking the proverbial "cash cow," there's no denying that Trick'n Snowboarder looks flashy, plays smooth, and makes for an engaging - if a bit too easy - alpine experience.
The game sticks to the standard recipe for snowboarding titles: wild downhill courses with tons of jump-off points and occasional obstacles; different modes such as alpine, half-pipe, and single-jump competitions; and marginal extras like replay saves and player/title logo-edit functions.
The game's main strengths are its well-designed tracks and gameplay flexibility - especially for two-player vs. matches. TNS starts with 14 tracks set in locations from Russia to Italy, each well rendered and providing neat little graphical details (the best: a dog chasing after a boarder in the Japan level). The two-player mode augments those tracks with a wealth of options. Notably, you can compete on horizontal or vertical split screens or via link cable. Plus, you can compete for most trick points, race for speed, or do a combination of both. This customization works smoothly and makes for an easy-to-use "party" game.
For single players, the game has a scenario mode that walks you through a bare-bones storyline with trick requirements for each level. Between levels, secret characters pop up for extra vs. player battles, which spices things up a bit. Beating the scenario mode unlocks additional secret players, which adds marginal playability to the game.