Grab your snowboard and let’s hit the peak – to find out what sits upon the top of our Best SSX Games list!
If you’ve read our Best Burnout Games article, you’ll note that EA aren’t strangers to seemingly just forgetting about popular franchises, with 2008’s Burnout Paradise being the last game in the series – that is, if you don’t count the remastered editions of Paradise that have been released in the last few years.
It’s no different for SSX, a once-massive snowboarding franchise from EA that first saw the light of day way back in the year 2000, but hasn’t seen a new entry since February 2012; that’s right – it’s been a whole decade since the last new SSX title was released.
Many of the games in the series were excellent though – there’s a reason that EA’s snowboarding games are fondly remembered even after so long away from the spotlight.
In fact, SSX became so popular that in 2004, EA teamed up with peripherals manufacturer Radica to create a plug and play game called SSX Snowboarder, which allowed you to play SSX on your TV using a snowboard peripheral – and without the need for a console!
What are the Best SSX Games in the series though? With so many reaching such a high bar of quality, it’s going to be tricky to rank them – but let’s hit the slopes and find out!
10. SSX by EA Sports (Android, 2013)
A surprisingly fully featured snowboarding title with some excellent presentation, this mobile edition of SSX is sadly let down by awkward tilt and touch controls, which are the downfall of many a mobile game (though unusually, the game did support use of the PlayStation 3 DualShock controller).
Also, despite the slick menus and good use of music, the snowy mountain settings feel somewhat lifeless – and the game also feels pretty bland overall; it’s devoid of the character and attitude that infused the earlier entries in the series.
Only available on a very limited number of Android devices, it’s a somewhat forgotten entry in the series – but it’s no great loss that it’s not more widely known.
Just as SSX by EA Sports was let down by its format-led control scheme, so too is SSX Blur a disappointment due to the Wii-enforced motion controls.
It’s a real shame, because SSX Blur can actually be pretty fun when the inconsistent controls don’t hamper the experience.
However, as a fast-paced snowboarding game that needs reliable controls in order to pull off satisfying and high-scoring trick combos, it sadly falls short.
Nokia’s N-Gage was a device that was widely mocked for many awkward design decisions that led to it being fairly weak both as a phone and a gaming device. Yet it still played host to some excellent software – and SSX: Out of Bounds was a pretty good game on Nokia’s ill-fated, but forward-thinking, platform.
Though it’s aged incredibly poorly from a visual standpoint, SSX: Out of Bounds has a surprisingly excellent licensed soundtrack – which seems to be something that EA always got right with the SSX games – and pretty addictive gameplay. Essentially a scaled-down version of SSX 3, it even featured four player, wireless multiplayer – which was a great addition at the time.
A poor draw distance and inconsistent frame rate let it down somewhat, but SSX: Out of Bounds was an admirable attempt to bring the series over to mobiles via Nokia’s N-Gage hardware.
Slightly less impressive visually than the N-Gage title and also disappointingly lacking from a soundtrack perspective, SSX 3 on the GBA benefitted from the wider screen ratio on the GBA and a great deal of unlockables and customisation options.
Sadly, it’s still a disappointing entry in the series and just slightly too ambitious for its own good.
Intriguingly, it wasn’t the only handheld version of SSX 3 to be released – the ill-fated Gizmondo by Tiger Telematics also received a port of SSX 3. It was ahead of the GBA version from a technical perspective – it was certainly a lot smoother in terms of its frame rate – but suffered from many of the same issues with controls and short draw distances.
Though it may not boast the customisation options found in GBA sequel SSX 3, SSX Tricky is about as good as it gets for a snowboarding game on Nintendo’s 32-bit handheld.
It’s just a shame that it’s held back by the hardware in the same way that SSX 3 was: the digital controls feel a little sluggish and the lack of decent draw distance in the visuals can often lead to somewhat distracting scenery pop-in.
That said, it’s still an admirable attempt to bring the series to handhelds, though it’d be a few years before handheld consoles really had the necessary grunt to give players satisfying extreme sports fun on the move.
The fourth game in the SSX series for home consoles, SSX On Tour loses the electronica/hip hop soundtrack in favour of heavier rock, a change which was in keeping with the fashion of the times but now makes the game feel a lot more dated than its predecessors, in my opinion.
Similarly, the presentation changed and feels a little awkward in the way it tries so hard to feel lo-fi; think deliberately awkward, hand drawn imagery on lined paper for many of the menus and icons.
Customisable character avatars in place of the pre-designed options – which had been infused with lots of personality – was a welcome change for players to give the game a more personalised feel, but SSX On Tour did feel a bit less interesting as a result.
All that said, the snowboarding – and skiing this time too – action was once again well-handled: fast, smooth, responsive and very satisfying indeed. The GameCube version even had Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach as playable characters, with one course – Last Call – becoming Nintendo Village too.
A reboot of the series after a five year absence (with the Wii’s SSX Blur being the last game prior to this one), this title is sadly the last of the SSX games so far.
Again continuing the trend of making the game a bit less reliant on over-the-top, colourful characters that began in SSX On Tour, it instead adopted a more realistic tone, featuring real world locations – mapped by satellites – and even a story mode that saw the player take on a rival named Griff over the course of the globe-trotting campaign.
Impressive from a visual standpoint and with much more interesting, almost futuristic presentation than SSX On Tour (thankfully!) which emphasised the real world locations and gave the game a much more timeless feel, the 2012 reboot is also notable for featuring a wingsuit (which is great fun to use!) and a focus on online multiplayer options.
Despite this being at the expense of local multiplayer modes, it’s great fun and brought the series up to date on the then-current generation of consoles. Thanks to the magic of backwards compatibility on Xbox, SSX 2012 can still be played today and it’s aged pretty gracefully too.
Back to where it all started, with the PS2-only first game, known simply as SSX. In an interesting piece of trivia, apparently SSX was originally being developed for the Dreamcast – until EA decided not to support Sega’s 128-bit console and shifted development to its chief rival, Sony’s PS2.
Extreme sports titles were all the rage in the late 90s and early 2000s – and SSX took the best elements of rivals such as Cool Boarders and 1080 Snowboarding, then added in a sprinkle of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater-esque magic to give players that felt fresh, unique and incredibly addictive.
Pulling off combos and racing rivals – either AI or other players – was great fun, with in-game characters that really did have a lot of personality. It also featured the unforgettable Tokyo Megaplex stage – undoubtedly one of the high points of the series.
Few games can be identified by or associated so closely with a music sample, but SSX Tricky – which introduced the usage of Run DMC classic ‘It’s Tricky’ when difficult stunts were pulled off – is most definitely one of them. There’s almost no way you can even read the title without hearing the hip hop legends in question; the sample is so pervasively used in-game that it would feel so weird without it!
There’s much more to SSX Tricky than the Run DMC sample of course. An expansion of – and improvement on – the first game in pretty much every way, SSX Tricky is a bright, bold, colourfully neon-and-day-glo styled audiovisual overload of a game.
Though criticised at the time of release for feeling a bit like an expansion pack rather than a full sequel, the first game only releasing on PS2 meant that SSX Tricky would have been the first opportunity for Xbox and Gamecube owners to jump on board (pun definitely intended).
Much of the content of the first game is remixed and given a fresh coat of paint in SSX Tricky, with series highpoint Tokyo Megaplex also making a welcome reappearance.
Of course – being such a highly regarded and fondly remembered game – SSX Tricky also features on our list of the Best PS2 Games!
SSX Tricky was SSX dialled up to 11 – but SSX 3 took everything great about SSX Tricky and improved upon it in nearly every way.
This time around, there’s an excellent open world that players can explore, with new areas unlocking as players progress. It also features a superb licensed soundtrack, which of course was a series staple for SSX.
Infused with character, addictive gameplay elements and plenty of improvements over previous entries, SSX 3 stands proudly as the finest game in the series – and one that’s yet to be toppled from its place at the top of the mountain.
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.