Developer: Ratrod Studio Inc.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.4
App Reviewed on: iPad mini Retina
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My main concern going into Snowboard Party was the controls, which have hindered my enjoyment of many an iOS snowboarding game. Thankfully, here they feel very intuitive and natural - reacting well to gradual or sharp turns, while pushing forward on the floating stick will increase speed appropriately. After tweaking sensitivity to the highest setting, the only improvement would be to remove the buttons altogether and implement a more touchscreen-appropriate system that makes better use of the platform, whether it's swiping for tricks or tapping the sides of the screen to turn. Until then, however, the current system will works well.
Levels and other boarders are unlocked with experience points earned by clearing objectives and generally pulling off dizzying stunts, which are achieved by stringing together different tricks using the designated grab buttons. XP is generously distributed, and with many courses spread over 4 modes - including Big Air, Freestyle, and a mostly lag-free competitive Multiplayer mode - there is plenty of content to be unlocked naturally without the need for dreaded in-app purchases.
Parallels could be drawn between Snowboard Party and the popular console snowboarding game SSX, but there are a couple of things that prevent it from reaching that high standard. First is the layout and diversity of the tracks, which tend to be too similar. Sure, there are ample opportunities for big air and big combos, but SSX had fireworks, tunnels, lifts, jets of air and other special obstacles that were a blast to navigate. Second is the lack of any special moves, which would differentiate more between characters, add some 'wow factor', and serve as a big points boost.
There is definitely a deficit of quality 3D winter sports game on iOS, and Snowboard Party is a well-designed, instantly playable and high-quality enough to raise the (grindable) bar for the genre.