Title: SSX Tricky
Developer: EA (Electronic Arts) Sports
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Nintendo Gamecube, Xbox
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

SSX Tricky is the only Gamecube game I have actually purchased after renting it. As the writeup above states, the game's emphasis is more on tricks than on racing. The game's graphics are beautiful and the designers were quite faithful to nature in their representations of different types of snow: packed powder, deep fluffy powder, and ice -- all of which affect the behavior of the board.

There are numerous characters to choose from, each with their own personality and special talents. You can view the character's profile and see their height, weight, nationality, etc. I have found that small, light riders are the best for doing lots of impressive tricks.

SSX has its own reality and its own corresponding physics. Gravity is often ignored or at least temporarily disregarded, but in a manner that seems very natural when you're playing. Gameplay reminds me of those dreams you have sometimes where you are running very fast down (or up?) a hill and are able to "take off" at a climactic point during your sprint. Exhilarating!

I have played SSX on both the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo Gamecube and would definitely say that the Gamecube's controller ergonomics and button controls are far superior for this particular game. Some of the tricks involve very complicated sequences of button presses and control stick manipulation. But of course this is subjective, and I expect many loyal PS2 users would disagree with me.

The game has a very intense techno soundtrack which, while it fits the tone of the game (fast paced), can be somewhat distracting. The game does, however, have options to turn the volume of the music and sound effects up or down depending on your preference.

SSX Tricky is surprisingly cheap for a Gamecube game; I got my copy for $20.00 US. It is very replayable, unlike some games that lose their appeal after you've already gone through them once and solved all the puzzles or beaten up all the bad guys. There are three difficulty levels, and even the "amateur" skill tier is quite challenging.

There are three types of competition in SSX Tricky: Race, Showoff, and Time Challenge. The Race mode of gameplay is exactly what it sounds like: you race against either a human opponent and 4 computer-generated opponents, or simply against 5 computer-generated opponents. When you are playing against a human opponent, the screen is split vertically down the middle, which I personally find rather disconcerting. It is much harder to anticipate corners, turns, and ramps in 2 player mode, which can be a disadvantage until you memorize the contours of the track. In Race mode, you have to get to the bottom of the track before anyone else (like I said, exactly what it sounds like!).

Showoff mode does not give any extra points or accolades for being first to finish the track. Rather, points are awarded according to how impressive your aerial flips, twirls, and gyrations are. Showoff is my personal favorite; it is pure fun, and easier in 2-player mode than race if you want to compete against a friend. You do, however, need to watch the clock; some tracks are very long and if time runs out before you're finished cavorting about in midair, all your hard-earned points are flushed down the Nintendo bit bucket.

Time challenge will have to be explicated once I've actually played it; at present I have my hands full with Race and Showoff!

Overall, definitely a game I'd recommend, and this coming from a person who generally detests sports games!