Who needs SSX when you've got an indie gem with a lot of heart?
Boarding fans love their long-established franchises. Skateboard players have had it good of late — Tony Hawk’s has recently had a revival and OlliOlli World brings a new spin to grabbing a deck and letting loose; that said, most genre enthusiasts are hanging out for Skate 4. Snowboarders have been living vicariously through boarding-adjacent titles like Steep or Riders Republic in the last few years, but like their counterparts really just want an SSX revival.
In its place, might I recommend Shredders instead?
Developed by the Europe-based FoamPunch, Shredders is a hilarious love letter to the snowboarding underdog. Players will the goggles of one half of Shreddageddon, a wannabe YouTube duo who just want to hit it big by filming themselves doing sick stunts. Fate smiles upon the pair one day when they meet Lisa, a brand ambassador from 540 Indy, a fictional boarding brand with some seemingly deep pockets. Seeing an opportunity for some mountain-based synergy — don’t you just love buzz words — Lisa decides to pull the strings of Shreddageddon to not only further her business, but make the influencers internet famous. Does it make for some potentially unethical practices? Maybe, but it sure has hell is an entertaining, hilarious setup for the snowboarding that follows.
A controller is a must for Shredders; you’ll steer with the left stick and control speed with the right. The right trigger will set up jumps, while the left helps you land and grind rails and the like. Once in the air, you’ll be using your right stick for spins (starting with the left and then flicking and holding to the right for maximum rotation), or your left for flips (again, with that same flick for momentum). You can grab your board with the left and right bumpers, and sometimes hitting both bumpers whilst on the ground will trigger either a winch or snowmobile in certain contextual situations. A Re-Shred button works as a small rewind, putting you before the last jump that you attempted, whilst a full (and quick) reset of a mission is also attainable through another button press. Controls are relatively easy to pick up, but of course, this is a matter of things being easy to learn and difficult to fully master.
I wasn’t ever a huge SSX fan — I’ve dabbled — but I reckon this would scratch the itch felt by fans waiting for a sequel. Shredders’ open world offers a lot of opportunities to play as you want, including those with the need for speed, or stunt lovers who just want to hit some huge ramps. FoamPunch finds a great balance between a snowboarding simulator that will both challenge die-hards and be forgiving enough for those with two left thumbs. I frequently can get two out of each mission’s three stars, but usually fall short when it comes to the complex trick required to really conquer something. A menu system will allow players to jump between sections of the mountain, either hitting up free-roam areas or delving straight into missions. Said missions have a lot of variety; you’ll be racing a pro in one and doing your best to do a double backflip the next.
FoamPunch also picks its battles appropriately. Snowboarding pros that feature inside the title haven’t had their heads scanned as if the studio has the resources — or budget — of EA Vancouver (or even Melbourne’s Big Ant); instead, the pros are clad from head to tow in warm, winter gear. With that in mind, FoamPunch acknowledges the limitation pretty much straight off the bat and also takes a self-deprecating dig at itself. Similarly, pros also lend their voices to the affair and with some you can tell that they’ve recording their lines in their home closet under the guidance of a long-suffering sound tech working through COVID… and likely budgetary restrictions.
On the topic of voiceovers, the actors behind the voices of main characters Scotty and Lisa truly shine. Lisa is head and shoulders above the rest, with nuance and humour that’s unmatched. The very Australian Scotty might not have the same acting chops as Lisa, but he’s damn funny and has some truly tremendous writing to leverage. Scotty’s equal parts larrakin and bumbling fool, and it’s a great combination. That said, I’ve noticed a couple occasions where character voiceover doesn’t match provided subtitles, as if dialogue was changed out at the last minute. To its credit, the differing voiceovers are generally funnier than the text that displays on screen (or simply makes more sense in the context of the story).
It’s not only pros that are lending their likenesses to Shredders; so too are a number of popular boarding brands like DC, Burton Gimbal God, Skullcandy, Volcom, GoPro and many more. Unlocks are very frequent and mostly come naturally through play, though there are a small amount of collectibles to find in the open world that add to your spoils. The problem that I had with all of these brand name goodies is that they can’t best the very LGBTQ-friendly gear that I started the game with. Once I went rainbow, I didn’t want to go back.
Things are a tad buggy at times, with moves simply not registering being pulled off, or your character suddenly losing coordination — and more importantly, momentum — when in the air. At other times, you’ll seemingly be moving on the mountain and starting a mission whilst the cutscene that plays before the mission itself is still running, causing mayhem and generally breaking the camera when the cutscene finishes. By our estimation, these types of glitches are generally more likely to occur after starting the game up on Xbox Series S or X using Quick Resume, so you’re better off fully quitting out and relaunching the game when that happens. There’s also the possibility on the latter point there that I’m just too stupid to understand how to pull off some moves; a better instructional system would go a long way with this one.
I’m not an avid snowboarder by any means, but I’ve found Shredders to be a delight, a quick and rewarding, pick-up-and-play title that I can jump into for some quick runs after bashing my head against Elden Ring for far too long. It’s full of fun, humour and generally a delight to play.
Shredders was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox Series X, as provided by the developer. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.
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