Snowboarding games have definitely had their ups and downs. The last few generations had no shortage of titles in the genre, but lately we've suffered through a minor drought. The same could be said for action sports games as a whole, until Skate showed boarders that there is still room for improvement. Developer Bongfish took this to heart and created Stoked, a game that combines core snowboarding culture with big mountain riding.
The focus on huge, open mountains is nothing new to snowboarding titles, but Stoked wisely offers terrain variety instead of repeating one mountain six times. Dropping in from the top reveals a bevy of objectives and lines to ride - one mountain has over 90 objectives alone. As I got to the bottom of the mountains, however, the activities became a little scarce; it would have been a smart place to throw in some park stuff like half-pipes and rail runs.
As for the objectives, the basic ''do this trick'' events are entertaining enough, but the media challenges, which you unlock later, are far more interesting. Taking the game online with friends reveals even more challenge types, like the always fun Ground is Lava mode. Including modes like this could have given the single-player some needed spice.
Stoked takes a page from Skate in the control department, incorporating the concepts behind that title's excellent interface. These basic ideas are solid, but Stoked stumbles in their implementation. The ollie, rail slides, and off-axis spins in particular are all in need of some polishing; as it stands, executing these maneuvers is often harder than it needs to be.
The two branching riding styles, Hucker or Styler, change passively based on how you ride. Snowboarding Hucker style means you spin fast and easy, but in a sloppy way. The Styler option requires plenty of discipline to pull off slow, smooth spins and flips. These choices, along with completing challenges, earn you chances to show big sponsors you have the chops to be a professional rider.
With all of the cool ideas in Stoked, including the real-time weather and snow types that affect the game, Bongfish has taken steps in the right direction for setting the new standard for snowboard titles. I just would have liked to see more time devoted to cleaning bugs and buffing out the core riding mechanic.
A game that combines core snowboarding culture with big mountain riding.