In 1998 Nintendo developed an extreme sports snowboard racing game titled 1080 for the N64. This became one of the first and best sports and racing games of its time with the highest graphics provided on the N64. IGN simply called it “The most beautiful snowboarding game ever created. Nothing compares — nothing.” It received critical acclaim and won an 1999 Console Sports Game of the Year from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and an 88/100 from Metacritic.
1080 had everything previous racing games had been lacking, realism. You actually got the sense of speed with the wind ripping past you and the sun reflecting off of the snow. The gameplay is no easy feat either, if you don’t control your tricks precisely, you’ll crash and have to start over. Needless to say, it was an early sports game that had a huge level of difficulty no one had seen yet.
10 years later, fans of the N64 game were able to take a trip down memory lane as Nintendo released an updated version on the Wii’s Virtual Console service. Just as the old Mario and Crash Bandicoot games, the 1080 re-release gives you the feeling of nostalgia, no matter how lack the graphics are 18 years later.
1080 was so ahead of its time, it took developers years to create a decent competitor. Then comes the SSX franchise.
From EA Sports, SSX has similar play style from 1080 but with more of a focus on tricks. It had brilliant graphics (for the PS2 at the time) and the original title received an astounding 93/100 on Metacritic. EA released multiple titles in the SSX series up to 2012 with the latest being a reboot from the original 12 year prior. The major difference from the latest SSX is that it included a story along with the classic racing and tricks.
1080 and the SSX series were both revolutionary at the time of their release. When fans heard of Ubisoft creating a new snowboarding game, Steep, the world hoped for a modern-day SSX, but it wasn’t necessarily delivered as such.
In this generation every game is all about open world, so Steep caters to that with the game being set in the Alps and being a completely open world for players to explore. Steep isn’t only limited to snowboarding either, to travel to different locations or to knock out different challenges it includes skiing, wing suit flying and paragliding. Steep is also heavily focused on their online features, implementing abilities to share clips of epic tricks and challenging your friends.
Although it’s four years old SSX is probably the closest any game will get to being as good as 1080. If you’re hoping for more modern style SSX, EA games have confirmed they’ll be releasing a remastered 20th anniversary edition in 2020.
As for Steep, while it does modernise the genre with the online play, and track sharing — not the mention the the graphics and animation — it just doesn’t have the style 1080 has; Steep lacks the feeling of motion, and attachment to the ground that 1080 had. Meaning, snowboard racing fans are once again having to look back to it to get their snow racing fix.
This all means that there is yet to be game to live up to the highs of 1080, and the likelihood of any game matching it is low; especially considering the demand for snowboarding games has plummeted. 1080 you are the best of the best, and have proven that even after 16 years you are still on top. Steep has got the step it up.