Ski or Die logo

ELECTRONIC ARTS * £24.99 Joystick

Californian street sass and slang is all very well in a game involving skateboarding, but does it fit with skiing? Well Electronic Arts have the answer in the form of Ski or Die.

The game is very similar to their skateboard release Skate or Die, which appeared quite a few years ago, with you taking part in a competition comprising of a number of snow-based events.

Narly Moves, Man!
The game starts with you in Rodney's Ski Shop. Rodney is an overweight, street-talking ski fan, who introduces you into the world of snow sports. In the shop you can opt for a practice run or sign up for a full competition. Once you're ready, it's out to the slopes.

Outside the shop, you are given a number of paths to choose from, which leads to all of the various sections.

Eat Snow, Dude!
The first noticeable thing about Ski or Die is the rather garish colour scheme. The whole game has a kind of PC look about it, with plenty of blue, pink and green graphics around. Many of the events themselves are extremely similar to other games, the Downhill and Halfpipe sections are those that are similar to Skate or Die, the Snowball fight is very Operation Wolf and the Innertube Thrash is basically Toobin' on snow.

To begin with, performing stunts and flinging snow around are great fun, but the more you play, the more annoying niggles creep in. The control methods involved are rather perplexing and often have you selecting the wrong move, picking the wrong view or send you piling into a chasm.

One glaring error is the fact that when you have more than one player using one joystick, the Innertube Thrash places both racers under control of the same stick at the same time!

This is a shame, since without these few problems the game could have been quite a laugh. As it is, it's only for those who either love snow, skate-style or old Epyx sports games.


TRULY RIGHEOUS WINTER, DUDES!

SNOWBALL BLITZ
This is an Operation Wolf-style romp with you based in a snow dugout, hurling a plentiful supply of snowballs at the kids that are attacking you. Keep your supply topped up to make sure that you won't be digging yourself out, but watch you don't hit the instructor!

DOWNHILL BLAST
This is the section that's similar to the Skate or Die downhill section, with you zooming down the ski run, jumping over crevasses and attempting fancy stunts to impress the judges. Watch the clock as a quick time is the name of the game!

ACRO AERIALS
This is the 'hot-dogging' event, where ski-pros jump off a short ramp as fast as possible to perform a series of death-defying stunts. Go for the more difficult tricks to impress the five judges, but watch you don't land in a crumpled heap!

SNOWBOARD HALF-PIPE
Again similar to its skateboard cousin. This time you have to ride down a toboggan run-type tube, leaping over obstacles and performing dare-devil leaps and turns off the lip of the pipe. Collect the Punk Penguins for a bonus, but watch out for the Chainsaw Snow Bunnies!

INNERTUBE THRASH
This has you racing down a snowy hillside against an opponent, riding in large inner tubes (now where have we seen that before?). You can pick up sharp items to spike your opponent and slow him down, but keep an eye out for traps.


Ski or Die logo

Zwar ist die weiße Pracht bereits einem warmen Frühlingslüftchen gewichen, aber für ein zünftiges Wintersportspektakel mit verschiedenen Disziplinen ist es ja nie zu spät. Besonders, wenn es dabei so lustig zugeht wie hier!

PC- und C64-Besitzer haben schon vor einiger Zeit Bekanntschaft mit diesem originellen und humorvollen Game gemacht, jetzt funktioniert Electronic Arts endlich auch unsere "Freundin" zum Skihaserl um, Feinster Pulverschnee für bis zu sechs Spieler steht zur Verfügung, aber zunächst einmal wird bestimmt, ob man die fünf Disziplinen einzeln trainieren möchte oder sich gleich ins Wettkampfgerümmel stürzt. Todesverachtend entscheiden wir uns für letzteres...

Zum Aufwärmen gibt es erst mal eine kleine Schneeballschlacht: Die Gegner (Eskimos, Kids mit Punkerfrisuren, etc.) pirschen sich von allen Seiten heran und lassen ihr feuchtes Bombardement auf den Spieler los, der seinerseits mittels Joystick und Fadenkreuz zurückschlägt. Mit etwas Übung erwischt man dabei nicht nur die Angreifer, sondern auch Bonussymbole, die für neue Schneebälle, kurzfristiges Dauerfeuer oder ähnliche Hilfen sorgen.

Sind hier die Animationen schon recht witzig, so setzt die nächste Disziplin in Sachen Humor noch einen drauf: Wie der Bildschirmathlet beim Abfahrtslauf die Skier in die Höhe reißt, sobald er einen der zahlreichen Abgründe überspringen will, ist schon zum Brüllen komisch!

Wer allerdings nur vor sich hingackert, wird die Ziellinie kaum unbeschadet erreichen - die schnelle Fahrt durch die baumreiche und enge Schneise verlangt schon ein bißchen Geschick am Stick!

Weiter stehen am Programm: Per Snowboard eine 3D-Bobbahn herunter rasen und dabei möglichst viele halsbrecherische Kunststückchen vollführen; auf Trickskiern die Punkterichter beim Sprung über eine Schanze beeindrucken; und schließlich auf einem Gummireifen talwärts schlittern.

Die letzte Disziplin erinnert naturgemäß ein wenig an "Toobin'", auch hier ist man zweit unterwegs und sammelt diverse Waffen und Bonusgegenstände auf, mit denen man versucht, den Kontrahenten zu behindern. Besonders wenn ein menschlicher Gegenspieler zur Hand ist, macht die Rutschpartie tierisch Laune.

Daß nur bei der Gummireifen-Hatz an einen Simultanmodus für zwei Spieler gedacht wurde, ist denn auch der herbste Kritikpunkt, den wir an dieser amüsanten Mischung aus Sport- und Geschicklichkeitsspiel gefunden haben. Sich auch noch am leicht ruckeligen Scrolling beim Abfahrtslauf oder der Tatsache, daß die Snowboard-Sequenz auf Dauer ein bißchen eintönig wird, zu stören, wäre kleinlich.

Alles in allem bietet Ski or Die nämlich hübsche Grafik, guten Sound von Meister Rob Hubbard, eine ausgefuchste Steuerung und jede Menge Spaß für "Schneebeißer" - auch im Frühling! (Carsten Borgmeier)



Ski or Die logo

'Snow sports ain't for powder puffs' warns the instruction sheet for Ski or Die. And judging by my failure to be good at any of its five events (or chat away in the appropriately Californian drone which rather sets the tone for its surf-culture frolics) I'm in no position to argue.

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The events are a collection of weirdo alpine activities, which you get to play as practice rounds or competitions. My personal fave was the Snowboard Half-Pipe. This is a skateboarding hybrid which sees you shooting left and right down an open-top ice tube.

You can high jump, front v, hand plant, double twist and 360 degree back scratch over as many moguls and 'lips' as your merry little ski-board will carry you. It's all too funky, but from then on events speed downhill at an alarming rate of knots. (Ho Ho).

Not that the other competitions aren't endearing. They just haven't the same hook. The Snowball Blast is an Op Wolf clone with, er, snowballs.
Acro Aerials sees you skiing off a ramp and striking as many loopy and twisted poses as you'll have broken limbs when you eventually hit the bottom, and the Innertube Thrash throws you into an inflated tyre and shoots yo off down the slopes in a race against another bloke in an inflated tyre. All of which makes the final sport, the Downhill Blitz (or 'skiing' as we say in Europe), seem rather on the dull side, really.

The main problem with these last three events is your view point - you watch your bloke front-on and from a distance. By contrast, part of the success of the Half-Pipe section is that you follow on behind him, so you're actually whizzing down the mountain too.

In general though, all the contests are too short and bitty. I also have a more general worry about these multi-game sports sim things - that no matter how well put-together they are, they don't allow all that much scope for anything unusual or interesting to happen. After all, which would you rather do - make it out like Torville and Dean, or dodge 3,000 invading alien missiles?

Ski Or Die has a nice line in humour, but it's too laid back for its own good. You'll be charmed for the first couple of goes, but then start wondering where the hell the rest of it is. As David Vine wouldn't say, 'It's a bit of wipe-out really, dude'.



Ski or Die logo

What better way to adjust to normal existence after the intensive rigours of a ski (and apres ski) holiday than with a dose of pixellated piste bashing? EA's Ski Or Die is a winter sports multi-game which follows the same format of the old skateboard Skate Or Die game.

The game opens in Rodney's Winter Wonderland, a ski bum's shop run by what seems to be an ex-US marine with acid-fried eyes. He'll sign you up for the competition, let you scan the high scores and mess around with the controls, though curiously he won't try and fob you off with crap skis and boots that don't fit.

Outside the door to Rodney's shop are the signposts that allow you to compete in one or all of the ludicrous activities that pass for sports on his side of the mountain. You can practice them first before the compo. First up is the Snowball Blast, a fierce battle which has you using a gunsight to pick off the local brats, with bonus points for picking off Abominable Snow Thingies.

Round the corner you'll find the Downhill Blitz, a more straight-forward break-your-neck-against-the-clock challenge. Pick a trail and make your way down the mountain on your planks using mogul fields (icy bumps) and cliff drops to put in some acrobatic moves for bonus points. Crash and you'll lose time.

Having put in some jumps on the way downhill you should choose to go for some serious air on the Acro Aerials. This is the freestyle jumping area, much like the one found in Epyx' Winter games, with points awarded for difficulty and combining routines.

If your bottle's still intact you can take your skis off for the Inner Tube Thrash which involves flying down the pistes with your bum in a tyre in a style uncannily like Domark's Toobin'. You go down with some other idiot and there's points available for bursting his tyre, and finishing before him, but you'll have to watch out for yourself, because he'll have the same in mind for you, leaving mousetraps scattered about and even beartraps.

The climax comes with the Snowboard Half Pipe - skateboarding on snow. You have two minutes in which to impress with your best manoeuvres. Build up speed and put in your best moves to score highly. Definitely the game's toughest test.

Ski or Die is an excellent way to experience the thrills and spills of downhill racing without leaving the comfort of your armchair.


VERDICT Ski Or Die doesn't offer anything new, nor does it execute it with any massive class. Graphically, the figures are a little on the small size, and seem to be outlined rather coarsely. Sound too, is ilimted - while a soundtrack is non-existant. There again SOD, as it shall forever be known, does have a kind of rough charm. In fact as we skiBrits like to say, it has 'pas de style, beaucoup de bouteille'. It certainly made me thirsty to get on the piste again.



Ski or Die logo

Electronic Arts/£24.99/Out Now

Amiga reviewJonathan: I think I'd rather die, actually, skiing not really being up my street. But orders are orders, so skiing it is. Ski Or Die is one of these 'multi-event' games, which probably means I'm going to have to list all the events. (I think you'd better. Ed).

Right, there's Snowball Blast, a sort of Operation Wolf-style snowball fight; Innertube Thrash, where you slide down a hill on an inner tube; Acro-Ariels where you ski down a slope and doa flash jump; Downhill Blitz were you've got to make it to the bottom of a hill without crashing too much and Snowball Half-Pipe, an into-the-screen bit. So it hasn't got much to do with skiing at all. That's all right then.

The graphics are nothing short of okayish, with the nifty animation just about saving the day, and there are some slightly crap sound effects too.

Overall presentation is a bit shoddy. So what, if anything, has Ski Or Die got going for it? Erm, it's quite good fun to play, I suppose. The snowball fight is probably the best bit, while the rest don't really have much to offer at all.

So if you're into snow in a big way, Ski Or Die may well be your bowl of Frosties. And if not, it obviously won't be.