Val D'Isere Skiing and Snowboarding

Atari Jaguar

from AEO Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 14

 |||   Val D'Isere Skiing and Snowboarding
 |||   Review By: Timothy Wilson
/ | \  GEnie: AEO.8   Internet:

You've seen 'em on the slopes and in the Olympics, those amazing
skiers that can weave between those flags or jump amazing distances
and land perfectly, In VSS you get your chance to step into the ski
boots of one of these super shredders.

When starting the game, you can choose to play one of three modes:
Free-Ride, Training or Competition. In Free-Ride, you must beat times
and ski through checkpoints, sometimes making decisions on which trail
to take. In training or competion, you can also choose from Slalom or
Downhill. Both require you to ski between flags, but the flags in
slalom are closer together (less space to ski through) and are always
set on the opposite side of the trail from the last. Downhill flags
are spaced far apart left-right, and set up so radical moves aren't
required to reach the next set.

Of course, you can choose either skis or snow board, and pressing
Option lets you configure buttons and joypad controls (yea!).

Tim: Gee, maybe I should explain it a bit more huh?
Reader: Yes, that would be nice, Tim. What does it look like?

Ok, Your view is from behind and slightly above your skier, the camera
pretty much retains its position from behind, so if a big hill comes
up, you sometimes can't see what's on top. The course also wanders
from side to side, and there are usually trees, rocks, poles, or signs
framing the trail. The main trail has a "used" look to it with criss
cross patterns of previous skiers. A nice touch is that your character
also leaves a mark in the snow. Your character can jump, turn, or
"power turn" at will. Although when jumping you cannot move left or
right (nothing touches the ground of course!), and power turns tend to
slow you down drasticly. If the charater happens to slam headlong into
a tree, rock or snowplow, you'll be treated to a nice show of the
skier bite the white, tumbling forward for a good 50-100 feet.

I think the skier is really a Toon though, as he never gets hurt, only
loses time in these collisions. So, no worrying about fatigue or life
bars. Strangely, hitting other skiers only slows the player down a
little bit. I was hoping for a tangled mass to slide down the hill and
prehaps a reprimand by Val D'Isere Personel, but I didn't even get a
"oof!" or "Ouch!".

Everything in the game is a beautifuly scaled colorful sprite. No big
chunky pixels as sprites get closer. The backdrops for the game and
menus are nicely done, some look digitized, and some look drawn (but
drawn very well). Val D'Isere logos, Atari Fujis, and Virtual Studio
banners are all over, along with a dash of popular ski-sub-culture
icons and motifs.

The sound and music were pretty good. Title music, option screen
music, and I think there was a few skiiing tunes as well, so there was
always music playing, it didn't really grate on my nerves or anything,
but eventually it would get old. The sound FX were adequate, with a
good sampling of swoosh, hiss, and swish noises, and a few other
sounds like bodies tumbling and slalom flags being hit, and the
victory yell (YEEAH!) as you jump off a big hill.

Control was fine, there were plenty of configurations to choose from,
many of the controls can float between the buttons and the d-pad. A
realistic setting is #9, you always accelerate, and you can only steer
on the d-pad. I prefered having "up" being speed, down brake, while
the buttons did jump and power turn. I got "Jaguar thumb" after a
while, since a lot of jockeying is needed, and in that setting I
needed lots of diagnals. If playing two player, you must hand
controller 1 back and forth, which was slightly annoying.

As for game play, hmmm, well, pretty much run-of-the-mill racer.
There wasn't any difference between the skis or the board, only a
change of graphics. The terrain in the game is what you could predict:
Some places have ice, so you can go fast, but it's hard to steer, or
sometimes it's a creek bed or bare dirt which -really- slows you down.
My friend and I had the most fun in Free-ride, since we didn't have to
beat other times, just make it through the checkpoint, and we could
pick different routes. In competition, you have to get a better time
than the person above you on the competition ladder. If you don't make
it, you lose one of your chances, of which you only have three.
Personally, I had played it out in a night, I had fun, but not enough.

Admittedly, I only got to level 2 in the Free-ride, but it got
exponentially harder from level 1, and you have no choice but to
complete the current run, which you have to keep playing over and over
until you basically memorize the tough parts. It does have a slightly
addictive quality to it, in that I wanted to see the new scenery or
just get the next checkpoint in sight.

In the end, I have to give this a "try before you buy" stamp.

//// Final Ratings

        Title: Val D'Isere Skiing       Price: $59.95(US) 
               and Snowboarding        JagNet: No
       Design: Virtual Studio         Players: 1 or 2 (one controller)
 Published by: Atari Corp.          Available: Late December

 Here's the summary ratings:
             "*" is a whole
              "+" is a half
            5 stars maximum

 Gameplay - **    Drop in cars and you'd have a so-so race game.
 Graphics - **+   Excellent use of colors and very fast.
    Sound - ***   Music is just under T2K's. FX are sparse.
  Control - ***   Lots of configurable buttons.
  Overall - **+   I'd rent it once, and then buy a lift ticket.

(Overall is not an average!)

Pts Stars  AEO Ratings
""" """""  """""""""""
 10 *****  GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good.
  9 ****+  Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent.
  8 ****   Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this.
  7 ***+   Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers.
  6 ***    Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time.
  5 **+    Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this.
  4 **     Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic.
  3 *+     Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun.
  2 *      Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this.
  1 +      Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you.
  0 -      Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.

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