Nintendo

Review: Xtreme Sports (Nintendo Switch)

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Summer may be over, but good games can be enjoyed anytime. Xtreme Sports was considered a good game back in the day, but time’s catching up to it. WayForward has had a hand in some of my favorite games for Nintendo hardware, but this isn’t one of them.

The word “Xtreme” should evoke the period of time when this game was first released, the year 2000. Although the Game Boy Color hadn’t even been out two full years, it was already long in the tooth. So, credit to the WayForward team for making this game look as good as it does on the 8-bit tech. It’s bright and colorful, with fun animations when you wipe out during an event or even stand idle for too long.

The attempts at making the characters sexy sometimes result in distracting, sloppy visuals. And the fact that you are on an island filled with kids (you control 16-year-olds) makes the minimalistic clothing and Shantae-style bouncing physics something worth questioning.

There are five events, a number on the smaller side as selections go. Most are the sort you’d be familiar with if you played sports compilations prior to this original release. There’s skateboarding (my least favorite), in-line skating, street luge, and surfing. These latter three are pretty fun, with surfing having some great music attached to its gameplay. The last event is the most unique, though not the most fun: skyboarding. Jumping out of a plane to do tricks while avoiding birds and trying to get that center landing stands out slightly for being different.

The problem I found when playing most of these events is the screen real estate is too limited. The Game Boy had a tiny screen, but in this case, it impacted gameplay. It can be hard to anticipate obstacles to avoid or flags needed for collecting more often than not. A more zoomed-out approach would have been advantageous.

While I did enjoy the bulk of these events more often than not, they don’t hold up as well on repeat plays, something you’ll discover as you keep revisiting them. With hundreds of competitors on the island, Xtreme Sports really needed a couple more events minimum, to lessen repetition. At least your objectives change, but even this can present some challenges.

Say, for instance, you need to collect every one of the six flags, which is already challenging given the tight view. Imagine you obtain five while outperforming your competition in combos, tricks, time, etc. It does not matter; you still need to try again. I get the idea of wanting players to excel in all aspects of each event, but wonder if some form of optional scoring setup might’ve helped.

Thankfully, the island setup makes this limited number of events seem better than they are. It gives the game the feel of an “action-sports-RPG,” though not on the level of comparable GBC games like Mario Golf and Mario Tennis. I enjoyed walking around, seeking out competitors at my current skill level, and finding hidden medals. You’ll need plenty. Pulling up the map, you can see the island is a good size. But much of it’s locked off by a medal count that’s higher than expected.

Besides expected Switch things like save states and filters, extras are limited to a couple of dozen pics that aren’t too exciting beyond a single look. I would’ve much preferred a music player. Seriously, some of these catchy tunes will get stuck in your head if you play long enough.

Whatever the season, Xtreme Sports can offer a bit of fun in the virtual sun. But, you’ll likely play for just a few minutes here and there, spread out over time. The small number of events leads to a repetition, making it struggle to maintain interest. The extras in this Switch port barely register, too.

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