As gamers, we often find ourselves revisiting classic titles like GTA, The Legend of Zelda, and more, savoring the nostalgia and timeless gameplay they offer. For me, one franchise that I can’t help but return to is SSX. The SSX series, which focuses on snowboarding and features unique characters and gravity-defying tricks, first hit the slopes in 2000.
Since SSX Tricky’s release in 2001, I’ve been hooked on this exhilarating world. I’ve collected every game in the franchise, played them to exhaustion, and now, I’m diving back into these snow-covered adventures. It’s got me thinking, not only do I yearn for EA Sports to release a new SSX title (or maybe a remastered Tricky), but there’s undoubtedly a hierarchy within the SSX franchise. With an open mind, I’ve revisited each game in the series and it’s time to rank them from the least enjoyable to the absolute best, based on my personal opinion.
6. SSX Blur (2007)
Frankly, I barely even consider SSX Blur a part of the franchise. I purchased it when it first hit the shelves, but I have to admit, I really dislike this one. Blur was released exclusively for the Nintendo Wii, and the controls on a Wii simply do not work for the gameplay. It’s like the developers were given a list of character names but never bothered to check what they looked like. Some beloved characters, like JP and Psymon, are unrecognizable in this installment, with character designs that stray far from their previous appearances. It’s just… not good.
5. SSX On Tour (2005)
The visual style of On Tour appears to mimic the aesthetics of Guitar Hero, deviating significantly from the established SSX design. Back when it was released, I didn’t mind it much because I was a fan of Guitar Hero. However, as I replay it now, I find it a jarring departure from the traditional SSX franchise, and the game’s aesthetics are just plain unappealing. The gameplay is decent, but it’s far more challenging to accumulate the points needed for tricks. Additionally, part of what makes SSX special is its unique characters. So, why would we want to play a game where these beloved characters take a backseat to a customized character with no personality?
4. SSX (2000)
There’s actually nothing fundamentally wrong with the original SSX game. I recently fired it up and spent a few hours playing it. The design is similar to Tricky, with many of the courses being the same. It’s also the game that initiated the series and it’s brimming with personality. Even the opening song title brought a smile to my face. The only reason it’s not higher on this list is that the first game didn’t allow players to perform the insane Uber tricks introduced in Tricky. Everything you do in this installment treads a more realistic path, whereas the franchise later embraced more unrealistic and gravity-defying tricks, which we all came to love.
3. SSX 3 (2003)
Among my circle of friends, SSX 3 doesn’t receive much love. However, I’m quite fond of it. It attempted to differentiate itself by having the game take place on a single mountain rather than featuring different tracks in various countries. I appreciated the ability to seamlessly ride from one course to another and explore more of the mountain. The introduction of a “lodge” for character customization, featuring an actual character and not a made-up one like SSX On Tour, was a welcome addition. Players could also hold their tricks for longer durations than before. The only aspect I didn’t quite like was the removal of character interactions, replaced with characters texting each other, which felt a bit impersonal.
2. SSX (2012)
After the disappointment of SSX Blur, fans were worried that the franchise might be on its last legs. Then, in 2012, EA announced SSX 2012. A sort of reboot of the franchise, SSX 2012 took players around the world and introduced exciting new gameplay elements. In addition to traditional snowboarding, players needed to use items like ice picks and wingsuits to navigate treacherous terrains. It felt like the developers merged what fans loved about the franchise with modern updates. The gameplay was fantastic, offering exciting challenges. However, one aspect I didn’t like was the toned-down versions of the characters. Instead of their unique outfits, they were given more practical gear. As I’ve said before, we don’t love SSX for its realism.
1. SSX Tricky (2001)
There is simply no SSX game that can hold a candle to SSX Tricky. Released in 2001, it was a monumental leap forward from its predecessor. The game exuded personality at every turn. Players could choose from a dozen unique characters, each with their own styles, backgrounds, and excellent voice actors. There was a rich history and lore to these characters, making it feel like more than just a snowboarding game.
Characters interacted with each other; they had friends and enemies. You could even push opponents down the tracks, all designed for the gravity-defying tricks introduced in this game. Accumulate enough points on the meter, and you could perform tricks that were individually designed for each character. The soundtrack was fun, the characters were outstanding, and it’s still an absolute blast to play all these years later.
What Makes SSX So Special?
SSX stands as a shining testament to the brilliance of sports video games. It’s a franchise that has not only conquered the slopes but also the hearts of gamers worldwide. With its unique blend of exhilarating snowboarding action, stunning visuals, and a vibrant cast of characters, SSX has etched its name among the best sports video game series of all time.
What sets SSX apart is its unrelenting commitment to fun. From the very beginning, the series embraced the idea that snowboarding should be about more than just racing down a mountain. It should be an awe-inspiring, gravity-defying, and downright spectacular experience. SSX not only met but exceeded those expectations with its signature moves, over-the-top tricks, and heart-pounding races down treacherous slopes.
The SSX series didn’t just offer incredible gameplay; it created an entire world for players to explore. Each installment introduced unique and visually stunning mountain ranges, from the chilling peaks of the Himalayas to the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. These landscapes were not just backdrops; they were interactive playgrounds, ripe for exploration and discovery.
However, what truly set SSX apart was its roster of memorable characters. These riders weren’t just avatars; they were larger-than-life personalities with their own quirks, rivalries, and backstories. Whether you were a fan of the cool-headed Mac, the fearless Elise, or the anarchic Psymon, there was a character for everyone to connect with. Their interactions, both on and off the slopes, added depth and charm to the series, making it about more than just the sport.
Furthermore, SSX‘s soundtrack deserves special mention. It wasn’t just a collection of songs; it was a carefully curated selection of tracks that enhanced the overall experience. The music, perfectly synchronized with the gameplay, amplified the adrenaline rush of every race and trick, leaving players humming the tunes long after they put down the controller.
In the world of sports video games, SSX stands as a beacon of creativity and innovation. It dared to push the boundaries of what was possible in a sports title, delivering not just a game but an immersive and electrifying experience. It captured the essence of snowboarding – the thrill, the speed, the exhilaration – and packaged it into a series that continues to be celebrated by fans and revered by gamers of all ages.
As we look back on the legacy of SSX, it’s clear that it has earned its place among the best sports video game series of all time. Its enduring popularity and ability to captivate players with its unmatched sense of adventure and excitement make it a timeless classic in the world of gaming. SSX is not just a game; it’s an exhilarating journey down the slopes of greatness.