Horatio Goes Snowboarding is one of the more bizarre sports games I have had the pleasure to play. When you think of snowboarding video games on the market, your mind likely goes to the SSX series, notably SSX Tricky. So, SSX games provide high velocity gameplay with the opportunity to perform cool stunts and earn points based on that (it’s basically the snowboarding version of Tony Hawk). Horatio Goes Snowboarding, however, is a very different experience.
As an arcade-like video game, Horatio Goes Snowboarding aims for a very different experience from that of the SSX – or standard snowboarding – games. The title is separated into two sections of gameplay. Firstly, there is a Crossy Road-esque section (which emphasises the arcade-like aesthetic), and it’s okay, I guess, but it’s nothing interesting. To be honest, this part is repetitive, and after a few times experiencing it, I just wanted to get straight to the main draw of the game. Unfortunately, skipping this section is not possible.
After completing the first section, you fly to the top of a snowy mountain in a helicopter. From there the main event begins! As Horatio – the game’s bizarre mascot – the player snowboards down the mountain trying to earn as many points as possible while avoiding obstacles. It’s pretty fun because the controls are simple yet effective, while the snowboarding is moderately tough, especially as you progress through the game. What’s more, each level is randomly generated, so the experience remains fresh and interesting every time you experience the snowboarding. While the obstacles are limited, having a different layout every time means you don’t know what to expect!
I have a few small problems with the snowboarding part of the game, although they are not game-breaking issues. Firstly, it would be nice to see a greater variety of obstacles. Countless trees occupy the mountain, but sometimes it feels slightly depthless due to this. Secondly, the camera is too zoomed in. As a result, on the later days (we’ll get to this shortly), you have a ridiculously small window of time to actually react to what’s coming up. Just being able to have the camera slightly further out would extend the game time, and while it would be slightly easier, it would not destroy the difficulty completely. Just a bit more of fine tuning would make the snowboarding a great experience.
So, what is the objective of the game? Basically, the player earns points through completing both sections of the game in the consistently linear order in a day cycle. These points add up to a score that is saved on online leader boards. A high risk, high reward system is present, with near misses and following linear gate paths rewarding more points. It importantly gives the players…a choice.
The structure of Horatio Goes Snowboarding is very simple. To snowboard, you must complete the first section. There is an Endless mode (which I assume is an endless snowboard down the mountain), but to do this, you must obtain 1,000,000 points! Considering how my high score is just over 25,000 points, and considering the amount of time I have played this game, obtaining 1,000,000 points is ludicrous to unlock this mode, which is likely the best part of the game. It is a shame, and I hope this is changed.
Music undeniably contributes to the coolness and intensity of snowboarding. The soundtrack is pretty good, with several songs added in to mix up the experience. I have played cheap games similar to this one before that lazily have just one song. It’s a small thing but something I’m delighted has been considered. Graphics generally do the job and nothing more. This is not an issue as, aesthetically, the game is fine, and I expect these graphics from an arcade-like game.
However, I am disappointed by a lack of customisation. To be fair, Horatio is a good mascot who is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He has some catchphrases (“Snowboard or die” is a personal favourite) that add personality to the character. Unfortunately, the player cannot customise the colour of their snowboard, despite other colours being visible in the game! As you go to buy a new snowboard, six colours are literally in front of your eyes. But you can only have yellow. Is this a purposeful joke? Who knows? Either way I don’t understand the decision when the resources are definitely there.
Horatio Goes Snowboarding is okay. There is not much content or variety, but the snowboarding is fun with the help of music and random generation and simple but precise controls. However, not making the first part necessary every, single, time would be great. It doesn’t warrant more than a few hours of playtime due to this. I think three or four pounds is just about worth it, but don’t expect anything entirely unique or special. Horatio Goes Snowboarding is available now on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation (4,5) and Xbox (One, Series S and Series X).
Developers: Infinite State Games, EastAsiaSoft
Publishers: Infinite State Games, EastAsiaSoft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox One
Release Date: 14 April 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Horatio Goes Snowboarding was provided by the publisher.