Shawn White. The only pro snowboarder that I ever really knew of. You see snowboarding was dominant in the X-Games trend of the late ‘90s / early ‘00s. Games such as Cool Boarders and SSX were beloved by many during those “extreme” years. Even Sonic had a snowboard in some of his titles and he was the raddest hedgehog in town.
Fast forward to 2022 and you couldn’t say that there is very much, if any mainstream or pop culture coverage of snowboarding. A forgotten treasure of the video game and sports world, left abandoned for a decade to freeze over. Sad times indeed.
SSX fans did get “rewarded” with the deadly descents of the 2012 title, SSX. This was not in any shape or form a return to the glory days of SSX Tricky by a long shot. Sadly snowboarding focused titles have been few and far between this side of the 21st century. Steep, a 2016 title by Ubisoft, was very middle of the road and died out with little fanfare from the thirsty audience.
Enter Shredders from developers FoamPunch, hoping to be the next snowboarding title to carve a spot in your gaming line up. Shredders comes at us day one via the slopes of Xbox Game Pass, eager to get stiffy air and stinky (genuine snowboarding terms I promise). Let us see how gnarly the ride truly is.
Shredders sets you off with a slalom course to get to grips with the controls. Left stick turns and right stick slows; controlling your boarder is responsive and tight, really pleasant basic controls that give you full control. RT is your jump button and LT prepares for landing, and this means that any mistake is all on you in Shredders. Things get more complex when you add in jumps and grabs to the mix and that’s when mistakes can happen. Making a mistake is however, fixable, there is a “reshred” mechanic similar to Forza Horizon’s own rewind feature that allows you to go back a few seconds before you messed things up to try again.
Your campaign mode is presented very similar to the way EA handled things in the skateboarding classic that was Skate. The missions and challenges are all given out by sponsors or photographers to boost your image. Various gaps, tricks and insane moves are all included and it is a blast to play. Scotty, your in-game best mate, also runs your vlogging and promotion on social media. Scenes between missions are all voice acted in a hammy way, but it works. Story wise the narrative serves its purpose and often pokes fun at itself and snowboarding’s rad lingo.
Objectives need to be completed to continue, such as taking out the flags on the way to the bottom or land to three 180s. To up the challenge secondary objectives are included and definitely scratch the itch for high score junkies. Presentation is basic for the results screen and the happy smiley faces you receive on completion have a very Watch Dogs vibe about them. Addiction truly sets in when trying to get that last objective or reaching for that collectible on the course that’s always eluded you.
Missions don’t tend to be very strict with their objectives set for the player. Many times during the campaign the requirements come across as very lenient, especially with the timed races to the bottom of the slope. This is welcoming for anyone new as it doesn’t present you with any major progression barriers. It’s a pleasant surprise for a game that could have leaned heavily into trying to please only the most hardcore of snowboard fans.
Around four or five hours of your time will see the campaign cleared, with plenty of opportunity to replay missions to achieve a better score or even to get that last side objective you missed. Multiplayer is great here as it populates your world with other players on the same slopes. Being online and having people cut through the snow for you to follow or match trick for trick is a great feeling and really gives a connected feeling experience. The community will be the make or break for Shredders’ lifespan and it has great potential to be something special with continued support.
Cutting through the powdered slopes is satisfying with the audible crunch as you part the fresh snow. Lo-fi chill beats accompany you on your downhill jam; the audio certainly creates a relaxed experience that fits the game rather superbly. The music is brand new for the game and is by Belgian producer Jennifur – the thumping beats really hit the spot and is already available on music streaming services.
While Shredders feels sim-like (perhaps sim-lite describes it best) it never takes itself too seriously. From the bro-speak lingo (or should that be sno-speak lingo) between the characters in the campaign to the neon scattered results board, every part of Shredders tries to embrace the culture and sport in every way it can. Genuine love has been poured into the making of the game and it really shows.
Real life pro snowboarders are featured, and whilst Shawn White is the only name that springs to mind, the sport has continued on since the early ‘00s. Kevin Backstrom, Jamie Anderson and Jake Blauvelt and many more are included here along with the top brands of today; DC, GoPro and Skullcandy. Altogether their inclusion makes a wholesome package for fans who have been left in the video game sidelines for the past decade besides some soulless games and indie titles.
Graphically whilst the game is indeed for Xbox Series X|S, it definitely isn’t the prettiest in the room. It is an irritation to see the backgrounds have pop-up this obvious in the X|S generation, and jagged trees and basic textures are seen all throughout your time on the peaks.
Lag and slowdown also crop up, most noticeably during the snowmobile sections that occur throughout the campaign. It occasionally feels like you are playing an Xbox One enhanced game rather than a full fat next-gen experience. That being said, it is easy to forget Shredders is an indie title made by a small studio, and that’s due to the high quality of gameplay.
It is difficult to lay into a title that is begging like an Andrex puppy for your attention. Shredders does everything in its power to make you feel cool, it pays homage to the glorious sport of snowboarding and does wonders to try and welcome newcomers as well. Most of the time you truly feel like a pro snowboarder and it has just enough of a difficulty curve to make things challenging.
All said Shredders is able to deliver a wonderful time, despite its shortcomings, and it can definitely be seen as snowboarding’s answer to Skate. Perhaps in future updates we could see some of the little issues ironed out, but all we need for now is a good community following and the sport will have truly made its triumphant return to gaming. Let’s shred together some time my dudes.
Dave England, I forgot about Dave England. He snowboards too.
Get your Shredders fix by visiting the Xbox Store