Review by: Doug Trueman
Published: March 27, 1999
Big Air is Accolade’s new snowboarding title, created in an attempt to regain some of the ground it lost during the transition from 16- to 32-bit games. While its older racers (like the Test Drive series) are fondly remembered, Accolade seems to be struggling to produce quality games for the current crop of systems. To put it bluntly, I’m forced to quote agent Scully from an episode of the X-Files: “There are hits and there are misses. And then there are misses.”
Like the many other snowboarding games on the market, Big Air offers the player the thrill of digital boarding without the threat of broken limbs. Players choose from one of several real-life boarders and take on the pros like Ian Sprio, Michael Beallo, and Ross Powers. Gamers can also choose from many brands of boards like K2, Nitro, Morrow, Maui and Sons, and several others. Plus, in one of the most superfluous and unnecessary examples of in-game advertising, players can even choose the type of brand name jacket that they wear.
Advertising is rampant in this game, so much so that one wonders if Accolade was more concerned about releasing a quality boarding game or merely a title with as many sponsors as possible. The last two pages of the manual is nothing but a list of web sites, mailing addresses and phone numbers for the game’s snowboard, clothing and music contacts.
Once players have decided which companies will sponsor them, they can choose from several events to participate in. There are straight downhill races, the famous half pipe, race/trick combinations, the “Big Air” jump contest, and the boardercross, where players race against opponents on a track fraught with obstacles. Players who excel in all areas can take the “World Tour” challenge where they must score a set number of points and overcome a boarder “boss” to advance to the next round of competition; successful boarders will unlock more difficult tracks, culminating in France. As in other boarding games, Big Air has a bevy of tricks for the interested gamer. There are spins, flips, tail grabs, nose grabs and combinations will reward the player appropriately.
Unfortunately, Big Air and a first time snowboarder have one thing in common: they both fall flat on their face.