|Title: Ski or Die
Rom Player: Nesticle
Reviewer: R Brown
Synopsis: Unlike movies, one of the great things about video games is that they generally get better with each sequel, and Ski or Die is no exception. I don't care what anyone else says, Skate or Die absolutely rotted. It was boring, it looked like ass, and the one or two skating events in California Games completely shitted all over it. But for some inexplicable reason, it was popular. And I suppose I should be grateful for that, because the misguided love for that turd incited Ultra to persevere with the concept, and ultimately resulted in the gem that is Ski or Die.
The title is as misleading as that of its predecessor. You really don't appear to be in any danger of dying if you don't ski. I suppose if you waited out in the snow for long enough you may die of hypothermia or malnutrition or something, but there's no immediate danger. Even the instruction manual says "this arctic adventure will have you wishing you were back at the chalet exchanging fondue recipes with a thick-necked man named Gunther", so really, not skiing seems by far the safer option. But regardless, Ski or Die is more fun than a barrel of porn stars and a full tube of lube, so you should ski anyway.
Anyway, let's explore the game's many radical and gnarly facets:
You start off in Rodney's Ski Shop. Yes, the same Rodney from Skate or Die. Apparently he wanted to get as far away from that steaming pile of dung too, and so he headed up to the slopes to offer precisely as much assistance as he did in the first game. Which would be none. Anyway, from Rodney's Shop you can choose whether to practice or compete, which really only makes a difference if there are multiple players, and let's face it, if you had any friends you wouldn't be spending your time playing NES games on your computer. Loser. Oh, stop crying. There, there. Listen to your mum, you're just a socially late bloomer. I'm sure you've got a great personality.
The first game in Ski or Die is "Snowball Blast". The manual says "Fire ice awaits all ski bums on this route to ruin", if that makes any sense at all. I feel a good deal of the game and its manual were translated directly from Japanese in Babblefish or something. Anyway, this game is basically just a snowball fight. As we've already established, you're a friendless loser, so all the cool kids are throwing snowballs at you, and your objective is to throw them back because that makes the kids disappear. Just like in real life. Your mum was wrong when she said, "Just ignore them and they'll go away." If you ignore them (or are just a really crook shot) you'll get buried in snow and turn into a snowman. Sometimes ski instructors walk past, because as we know, all American ski instructors are just Uni students who applied to those "Get Paid To Work In The US!" posters, and so they're stupid. But you can't throw snowballs at them, because they're Uni students, and they'd probably start screaming something about it being a metaphor for patriarchal oppression.
Radness Rating: 4/5
The second game is "Downhill Blitz - Peak performance at 3000 feet. Talk about high stakes." Yeah, downhill skiing, woohoo! Only not. Well, it's not that bad, but definitely the worst game of the lot. It's just really tricky and fidgety to control, and the NES's 8-bit graphics don't really help show what can and can't be skied on. Also, I always get bored about halfway through, and you can't quit.
Radness Rating: 1.5/5
"Acro Aerials - The wild man's ski jump. Achieve double-digit hang time and gyrate your way to glory." This game's a brief one, but good family fun, nonetheless. By tapping the A and B buttons manically, you go flying up into space. No, seriously, it isn't considered decent air in this game unless you're up there doing tricks next to a space ship and Jupiter. Then you press random buttons to flip around do impressive moves and such, land, and get judged by five people scouted from Hollywood and a circus side-show. Which is basically the same thing with less cocaine. The first judge is an old woman with one tooth, the second Tom Cruise in a pair of sunglasses he bought from the chemist, the third an angst-ridden lead singer from a Sunny Day Real Estate cover band, the fourth Kent Brockman with one eye and two teeth, and the fifth a heroin addict with a pumpkin for a head. Their expert opinions cause you to either hang your head in shame, form a little question mark over your head, or do that fist-pump thing that people do in kids films about the bad sports team made good.
Radness Rating: 3.5/5
"INNERTUBE THRASH - Head-to-head zonking via infernal inflatables. Better put a bumper on your thumper!" Love that zonking. This game is a race against Lester from Skate or Die. Yep, even Lester jumped ship. You're both in big inflatable tubes and you have to race downhill bumping and sticking pins in each other's tubes. It's like that bit in "Grease" where they're having the drag race and the Scorpians, or whatever they were called, stick that spikey thing into the T-Bird's wheel, and then Olivia Newton-John runs off to dress up like a big lycra-clad whore. Well, ok, it's nothing like that last bit, but it'd be cool if it was.
Radness Rating: 3/5
"SNOWBOARD HALFPIPE - Slick snowboards and fierce snowbunnies lurk down this lane." This is by far the best game of the lot. This could be the entire game, and you would've got your money's worth. This is what addicted me to Ski or Die in the first place, and what keeps me coming back. You ride along the halfpipe, pulling tricks as you go, and trying to move up to the fastest speed, as the faster you're going, the better the tricks you can do. You can also pick up penguins along the way (I guess you put them in your pocket, or something) to get extra points. But there are bunnies with chainsaws that get in the way. They don't actually cut you up Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style, or impale you Prince of Persia-style (though either would be wicked), they just trip you up and slow you down. They're still annoying, though. You will find yourself swearing profusely at the bunnies. Little fucks. To top it all off, Kent Brockman from "Acro Aerials" is back, except with two eyes this time, and is down the bottom of the screen shouting things at you the whole time. I have no idea why. You will swear profusely at Kent, too. Most of the things he says either don't even make sense, or they're just totally inane. "Scarf ice, frosty!" "S'no way, bro!" "Acheive escape velocity!" "I don't know you or your dog!" Cheers, Kent.
Radness Rating: 5/5
All up, Ski or Die brings back the fun and will to live that was killed by its bastard older brother, Skate or Die. Great games, coupled with top 80's words and phrases, fluro colors, and a bitchin' soundtrack.
Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
Best Cheats: Nothing Entered
Game Play: 9
Overall Rating: 9
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