When starting up Jonny Moseley Mad Trix, 3DO's new extreme skiing game for the PlayStation 2, you're treated to a video clip of Jonny Moseley and his entourage as they show up at a party and proceed to rock the house, extreme-skier style. Once they've had their fill of break dancing and billiards, Mr. Moseley poses the question to his posse, "What if it snowed in San Francisco?" This question serves as the internal logic for the rest of the game, in which you ski at locations around the world that don't traditionally have snow or, in some cases, hills. If actually playing Jonny Moseley Mad Trix is any indication, it would be ugly, slow, and entirely unenjoyable if it snowed in San Francisco.
Using a stripped-down SSX gameplay model, you will extreme-ski through a series of levels inspired by real-life locations. The sole objective of every level is to score a preset amount of points to win medals, which can earn you access to new levels, equipment, and skiers. Points are scored by performing tricks, and therein lies the tragedy. The physics model seems unfinished and further exacerbates the tedium of the game's single-minded objective. The "magnetic rail" issue has popped up in past action sports titles, but it's most fully realized in Jonny Moseley Mad Trix. If you press the grind button while your skier is anywhere within the proximity of a grinding ledge, the game will do everything within its powers to make sure that you get to that ledge, including changing your speed, your altitude, and your trajectory. The game occasionally has problems differentiating between up and down, and you'll regularly find yourself skiing straight uphill with ease. There are no multiplayer modes to speak of, though considering the clumsy physics and general lack of fun of the single-player mode, this could be viewed as a good thing.
While it was originally announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2001, Jonny Moseley Mad Trix looks like a first-generation PlayStation 2 game. Environmental textures are passable, though they are liberally recycled throughout the game. The level geometry is simplistic, and the levels themselves seem barren. Each level has a short section that serves as a showpiece for the different level concepts, such as the wreckage of the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco level or the gigantic serpent idol at Machu Picchu, but these small fragments of inspiration cannot make up for the other nine-tenths of drab level design. Slowdown is rarely a problem, though the frame rate will drop sporadically without reason or warning. The skier models are tolerable; the skier animation, however, is not. The animation for what should be a bunny hop yields a Grand Canyon-clearing superjump. There would appear to be a single bail animation, and it's difficult to tell most of the aerial tricks apart. Topping it all off is a camera that can't quite keep up with your skier, creating an especially nausea-inducing effect.
Whether the sound in Jonny Moseley Mad Trix is better than no sound at all is highly debatable. The graphical presentation of Mad Trix is pretty underwhelming, but the sound simply takes the cake for overall awfulness. Environmental sounds are limited to the monotonous drones of your skis on the snow or your skis on a rail. The licensed soundtrack features music from an unimpressive list of second- and third-rate punk, rap, rock, and rap-rock groups. The real gem, though, is the game's announcer, who lists off the names of tricks when you perform them and makes witless witticisms whenever you bail or pick up a special item. His "As Seen on TV" style of voice acting is only made worse by his limited number of catchphrases and the game's inability to smoothly transition from one phrase to the next, which produces a choppy, stifled string of words whenever you pull off a multitrick combo. While you can independently adjust the volumes of the environmental sound, the announcer, and the soundtrack, at no point can you skip tracks while playing the game, which means you'll listen to the same music every time you play a course.
Jonny Moseley Mad Trix is a complete mess. Virtually every technical and stylistic aspect of the game is either shoddily handled or feels somehow incomplete. There may be a small contingency of extreme skiers out there who would get a kick out of seeing their sport of choice in video game form, but even they should probably stay away.