on 18 June 2008
After purchasing Wii Fit on launch, I knew that the Balance Board peripheral which came packaged with the game was full of great potential.
Only weeks after Wii Fit was launched it wasn't long before magazines and websites began publishing dates and details of new games to feature balance board integrated controls.
Family Ski is the first of such games from Namco to feature Balance Board and I must say that it certainly caught my interest when I first read about it and seen a couple of vids on various websites. We had already seen the potential the balance board had for skiing games with Wii Fits slalom game, the question was could Namco expand and improve on the control system to produce a engaging ski experience.
Thankfully it gives me great pleasure to say resounding yes.
Family Ski is everything I was hoping for and a little bit more!
The game is set in the Happy Ski Resort and sets you up as a character that appears to be new to the skiing scene and learning all the tricks and techniques as you go. To start the game, you first must choose a character to use as your avatar through out the game. Whilst choosing your character is only a small part of the games, it is pleasurable as you get to either chose your own Mii character or create an avatar from the games character maker to create a cartoony character which it must be commented lot somewhat familiar to the characters in My Sims. Before you hit the slopes, you get to kit out your character with some funky ski gear such as skies, pants, jackets and goggles ect.
After you've created your little character, it's time to hit the ski slopes and check out the resort and it various slopes which range from beginner to advanced to ensure there's plenty for players of levels to enjoy. It has to be said that skiing around the resort can be quite a pleasure in itself as the game developers have made an excellent job of creating a natural & intuitive control system which once you have mastered by either going through all the Ski School lessons or just experimenting whilst riding about just becomes second nature.
There are two methods of control on offer. The first is performed by using the Wii Remote & Nunchuck alone or you can choose to use the Wii Remote & Nunchuck in combination with the Balance Board. If you have recently purchased Wii Fit like myself, the Balance Board combo will definitel be for you as it adds that extra bit of depth & realism to the controls.
Using the Balance Board with Wii Remote & Nunchuck, is so simple & intuitive that after 30mins of using it you easly find your feet so to speak. Simply stand on the board & use your Balance Board to control steering yourself left & right, whilst utilising your Wii Remote & Nunchuck like ski poles to perform of actions such as pushing your self along, initiating tricks by swinging the controller in indepent direction & pressing the different buttons to perform plow turning & sharp turns.
By far my favourite little control touch in the game is the way you tuck the Wii Remote & Nunchuck into your chest whilst pointing the controllers together to gain a speed boost just like the way you would if using ski poles.
There is so much more you could say about Family Ski which I was extremely impressed by, but to be honest I don't think I could fit it all on one page.
Personally I think that some of the magazine & internet reviews which have commented that the game could have done with a little more depth or realism seem to have missed the point of the games. What Family Ski aims to do is just be a pleasant, entertaining & light hearted fun experience which is perfect way to relax & in my book it gets top mark for this as it does a terrific job.
If you have recently purchased Wii Fit & fancy a fun game to have a blast on with your Balance board, purchase Family Ski & you won't go wrong!
on 13 June 2008
As a skier, snowblader and snowboarder, I love the slopes. However, a young family has kept me away from the slopes for a couple of years and as soon as I heard of We Ski (as this game is known outside Europe), the sooner I had to purchase a Wii Console and Balance Board (of course, I had to get Wii Fit to get one of those!)
I pre-ordered Family Ski and awaiting in anticipation for its release. Luckily it arrived a day early so I've had chance to get to the slopes and take the game for a spin.
Overall, I'm impressed. Is it the same as skiing down a mountain? No, but it's as close as you're likely to get without leaving your living room.
The game loads pretty quickly but be aware that if you have a balance board, you'll need to click the 'balance board' on the loading pages for it to sync. As soon as you're asked to press 'A' and 'B', it's too late.
Once the games loaded and the Balance Board is sync'ed, it's time to choose your Mii and ski-gear. There's a range of gear to choose from and more can be unlocked as your skiing technique improves.
Having donned some untrendy gear and some carving skiis, it's time to hit the slopes. With the use of the WiiMore, Nunchuk and Balance Board, skiing with Family Ski is a breeze. The game is responsive to movement on the balance board and although you can't carve an edge, it's still as close enough to the real experience to make skiing enjoyable.
With a choice of freestyle, races and moguls, there's enough to keep the casual ski-loving gamer happy for a while. You can 'talk' to fellow skiiers and be challenged to races, have your photo taken and sent to friends via Wii Message Board as well as improve technique at the ski-school.
Subtle features like hearing the ice as you travel over it, 'feeling' the slowness of melting snow and tannoy announcements all add to the experience. Graphics are pretty good and do immerse you in the resort. Seeing trails as you carve through the snow looks good as well as the powder spray as you are the first to hit some virgin snow.
With Family Ski, don't expect a virtual realistic skiing experience, if you want that, get on a plane and get to a real slope. If that doesn't suit your pocket or the snow's not great, spend £30 and make the most of the slopes on your Wii.
If I could improve Family Ski, I'd suggest:
* having a larger resort - although the terrain and features cover many that you'd experience on the real slopes, the resort is quite small and can be covered quickly
* allow you to break out of conversations with fellow skiers and photographers
* allow more Balance Boards to be connected - currently only one balance board player can play at a time (this is a limitation of the Wii Console though so hardly the fault of the game). In multi-player mode, players each use the WiiMote/Nunchuk.
on 17 June 2008
This really is a great game, and I would recommend anybody with the slightest interest in winter sports to buy it.
While it is true that the balance board was an afterthought during development of the game (snowploughing, edging, carving and braking should all have been incorporated IMHO), this does not detract much from the gameplay.
Having been on skis off and on since the early 90's, I can say that although it is apparent you are playing a game, the feel of actually being at a ski resort is captured very nicely. Graphics, sound and gameplay do the job nicely for me.
One area that this game screams for more is extendibility. I know that console games generally don't offer much in this aspect compared to their PC equivalents, but it would have been fantastic to have an editor to sculpt the landscape and drag and drop buildings, trees, lifts, run markers etc to build your own resort. I feel this would have been quite possible with the Wii remote and would have extended the play-life of the game markedly. Its also a missed opportunity to cultivate a community such as that found for the Ski Resort Tycoon games.
Also, snowboarding does not feature. Granted this would have required another set of control movements, but is that such a hardship? Most people would go down one route or the other anyway.
I gave the game 4 stars, but I think that bearing in mind the points above 3.5 would have been more accurate if that were possible.
Still, Im very happy to say this game is well worth the £30 I paid for it.
on 16 November 2008
I have little to add to all the positive reviews - it is quite astonishing how well the atmosphere of a ski resort has been recreated. One point: the default set up for the skis does not reflect how skis work. ie pressure on right ski turns right; if you've even skied once you will know you need to transfer your weight to the left ski to turn right. It is possible to reverse the right/left settings to the correct ones. You need to press buttons 1 & 2 while paused. The pressure monitoring bar changes from blue (incorrect) to pink (correct). Its worth doing this - you don't want to have to unlearn bad skiing habits on a real mountain!
on 15 June 2008
Ignore all official reviews ! I ski often in Austria and own Winter Sports Wii - a great game on PC for winter sports lovers but the controls are more complicated on the Wii. I had issues about Family Ski- was it it a waste of money or graphics too basic? - the answer is no ! If you like Wii Sports- the graphics are similar and responds in the same way and that is the difference !!! This is not a point and shoot game ! It's realistic, great fun whether you are over 40 or have no kids! This game has been designed for the Wii ! I am only using the remote and nunchuck !- thought it was great fun and quite realistic! Worth buying!
on 9 July 2008
I got a balance board when they first were released and absolutely love the Wii Fitness game. I saw that this software was compatible with the balance board too and decided to go for it.
I'm absolutely thrilled with this game. It is challenging, but fun at the same time, and if you'd just like to have a ski around the various slopes in the resort and not race/participate in challenges, that's fine.
The controls are very easy to master and the on-screen description of how to do things in Ski School is also fantastic.
I'd highly recommend that you buy this game, especially if you have a balance board and want to add an extra dimension to its use.
on 12 November 2008
Family Ski is such a fun game. do not hesitate to buy this game if you love cruising blues and greens on your ski holiday. It's a really good family game. My daughter and I have spent hours just wizzing around the mountain and thats where the game is at it's best. The challenges are ok but for just feel of motion family ski in freeski mode is A+.
The biggest downfall is the size of the resort and it's a big downfall. If only they could make it more extensive then this game would be my favorite bar none.
We were lucky enough to be given Wii Fit for Christmas, and even luckier to be given this game, Family Ski. The key is in "Family". The Wii have done well at providing games for young and old, but this is the first game that my 4yr old daughter can actually play by herself.
Setup is, by Wii standards, quite easy. You have to register, of course. You can use your own Mii creations, or use an in built one, then customise with different clothes, skis, sticks etc.
And then you click "Freestyle" and away you go!
As usual there are lots of in built "hints" that get in the way initially, but once you've gone through all the "helpful instructions", you just have to get your balance right.
To be clear, this is nothing like actually skiing. Leaning forward and back do not do anything to your speed, so you are worrying about left and right mostly.
It takes a couple of goes down the slope to get your bearings (several more if you have your family giving you their sage advice), but once you've done that there are different slopes, different gradients, moguls, jumps, all sorts.
In order to make it a bit more interesting, there are the obligatory set of challenges, like orienteering, slalom, air tricks.
On the downside the runs are quite short, there are only a few, and that might feel repetitive. The other downside is that if you have the balance board, you can't race against someone not on a balance board. At least no way that I've worked out. And if you are on the Wii-board, you play by yourself. With everyone watching you...
On the upside, it is a game for everyone, regardless whether you have ever actually been skiing. As a guide, my 4 year old loves it, but can't quite manage her balance, but my 7 year old niece almost had it sussed within a few minutes. Meanwhile my uncle in his 40s and my dad in his 70s were all able to have a go.
It's one of those I'd recommend for short bursts, and definitely worth it with the wii-board!
This game is strangely appealing, and I have spent a fair bit of time playing this with my family.
It is easy to pickup, and even my 5yr old daughter can play it easy enough.
The freeplay mode is enjoyable and makes it far to easy to while away huge amounts of time. The various challenges and tasks on offer add a bit of variation, although just travelling the resort and skiing can be fun. The various competitions also add to the fun, making the game a pretty good package.
Ok, its nothing like real skiing, but the key is its fun and makes good use of the Wii controls.
It good when played alone, but its playing with family or friends that really bring it into its own.
on 31 December 2008
Another great family game for kids as young as 5. Although the Wii remote/nunchuck combo seems, at first glance, complicated, it is so intuitive that even little kids can pick-up and play with few or no problems.
Some of the moves, especially mogul turns and air tricks, are harder to master for the younger gamer, but this doesn't detract from the fun they can have simply skiing down the animal-named pistes.
There is also an element of reading and problem solving which will appeal more to the slightly older player. Race, slalom, or mogul against each other or play in multiplayer freestyle, split-screen mode with your kids, start at the top of Lion Peak and say "meet you at the bottom" - everyone is then free to ski where and however they like.
This truly is a family game, recommended (without Wii balance board) for 5+.