Leipzig diary – Shaun White Road Trip
I didn’t get to achieve much on the second day of the non-press GC. I didn’t achieve much throughout the whole of my two days there. Going into it, I expected Nintendo’s non-presence at Leipzig to castrate any coverage of Wii or DS titles and leave me with no choice but to gladly gorge on the new PS3 stuff coming out and nothing but. My hands, they were tied. Surprisingly, I came to know a few games coming to the Nintendos pretty well. I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess one of them.
If you saw Nintendo’s fantastic E3 conference, you once knew this game as Shaun White Snowboarding. Thanks to Ubisoft Montreal’s creative marketing people, it is now his Road Trip. Another thing you may not know from watching Nintendo’s E3 is that this is not a Wii exclusive per say. It’s not even the flagship platform, with the HD systems’, particularly PS3 version leading (that one’s name is still undecided). This is another case of ‘Wii can’t do that, so let’s do this.’
To give it some purpose, Road Trip uses the balance board (no bundle is planned, so I hope you made the mistake of getting Wii Fit) in an attempt to divert some dollars away from the ‘next-gen’ Shaun White, which, this just in, is now being called “The One You Should Buy,” or TOYSB for short. I played both and found TOYSB slightly interesting and easily more appealing than the Wii thing.
Road Trip, if I remember correctly, has 4 mountains that you can carve up in 1080 Snowboarding graphics. Your jaggedly haired boarder(not Shaun White)’s career depends entirely on your ability to lean and flick. Lean right or left to steer him dangerously into pine trees, or make him do awesome spin-out maneuvers and wipe out, which, if development progresses as planned, will net you 9 trillion points each time in the retail copy. You jump mighty awkwardly, by flicking the remote, you guessed it, upwards. Once in the air, either press a or b to perform grabs, or lean in some which way to spin or flip. There’s also a remote/nunchuk scheme which is “just as fun” as the board.
Playing the game left me not too bedazzled, though Jesse really liked it. Thankfully, Ubisoft’s David Rancourt was there and happy to answer any questions I had and all the ones I didn’t about his studio’s title. He provided me most of the details for this piece.
David had a weird charisma about him, which I found strange for a developer. When I spoke to the PlayStation people on the previous day, they weren’t as glib and bubbly as he was. Halfway into the one-sided conversation I asked him what position he held at Ubisoft Montreal, whether he was a producer or something like that. He said, “no actually I’m in marketing,” and suddenly my world was right side up again. Good thing Cammie Dunaway was too busy on another ski trip to be there, cause those two would’ve been stepping on each other’s toes the whole time for who could bullshit the hardest.
As if I wouldn’t have figured it out myself. When he wasn’t slobbing on Shaun White’s knob talking about how the great White humor is sprinkled throughout the game, or how many years Shaun spent as Burton’s top rider (even knew his birthday), he anecdoted on the exciting adventures of game development, dropping the pearl, “when you’re working with a guy who hasn’t showered in a few days, you know you’re close.” *cliché smile* So true, David. So true.
I played both versions of Shaun White, and TOYSB clearly had more thought put into it. Though David wanted to sell the Wii game a lot more, he seemed to agree that the PS3 game was a lot more authentic and promising. It uses the Assassin’s Creed engine, which Ubi Montreal developed in-house. When Jesse, not being very ‘core’, asked why the Wii version looked like the result of someone using Ex-Lax in comparison, David said, “Lemme tell you something that’s just between you and me…” I thought he was about to drop some behind the scenes bomb, putting Intendo on the Kotaku front page once and for all, but all he dropped was my respect for any future PR spinner I might come across face to face: “Nintendo designed the Wii with fun in mind. They don’t care if you can see every single snowflake, or every ripple on the rider’s clothes.” And my parents designed me with greatness and intellect in mind, so I don’t care for your full-of-shit, time wasting spin. Guh’bye.
I know it’s his job and all, and I’m sure he’s nice to his wife and secret boyfriend (had a very un-hetero brow piercing), but this is Intendo. He shoulda known what he was getting into.
In the end, the fact still stands that Jesse liked Shaun White’s Road Trip a lot more than I did. I’m guessing that’s Ubisoft’s goal anyway, to get the non-critical girlfriends, aunts and uncles of us critical types to buy the version we won’t. Hope it works out for you, Ubi. I’m buying neither.