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SSX Blur

Faster than a melting icecap, trickier than... erm, SSX Tricky. And the other ones

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Fill your groove all the way up to the monstrous star at its fat end and things get really interesting. It means you have access to über-tricks, which are like normal tricks except far bigger and performed entirely in slow-motion, from artistic camera angles.

Completing an über-trick bestows upon you the kind of satisfaction that only comes from mastering a really, really hard task, because that's what it is. You have to launch off as normal, and hold A to enable the gesture-recognition wizardy. Then you draw a shape corresponding to the trick you want to do. Some are simple - a zig-zag pattern or twisty circle. Others are tougher and involve using both the remote and nunchuk - drawing mirrored halves of a heart shape with each hand, or spiralling simultaneously in opposite directions.

You have four über-tricks to begin with and can unlock eight more - including dexterity-testing beasts such as a treble clef and a coathanger shape - by collecting icons scattered around the mountains. You can't see what you're drawing on the screen, but you can always practise your gestures on the pause screen.

It's so much fun, you'll want to keep the groove meter as high as possible, as often as you can. But there's another use for that. Holding Z gives a screen-blurring turbo boost that's absolutely essential for winning races but eats up your groove at an alarming rate. So you're obliged to keep pulling tricks the whole way down the course, even if your objective is simply to outpace your rivals.

Tricks are difficult to land at first, largely because giving it too much welly on the remote results in your character spinning far too many times. You need a fairly gentle touch if you want to hit the ground the right way up. Perversely, the way to get up quickly when you're tumbling head over heels is to shake both hands as hard as you can, which goes some way to undoing any precision you may have hoped to achieve via muscle memory.

Take that and party
Other riders can be knocked over by holding B and flicking the remote to lob a snowball at them, although we couldn't quite get the hang of aiming accurately. It's probably something that will be of greater use for humiliating and annoying your friends in the split-screen versus mode.

If you spot an icon of a character's face while exploring the mountainside, you can enter into a challenge that's separate from the tournaments and races featured elsewhere in the game. Winning one of these contributes to the points you need to rise up the leaderboard and open up the next mountain, but we were a bit hopeless at them. They seem to be harder than the standard competitions.

With a total of 12 characters to play as, each of which must be built up from scratch no matter how many of the 275 über-trick pieces you've collected with one of the others, and plenty of clothing, boards and other trophies to win from other racers, it looks like being a typically hefty entry in the SSX series. We played for about an afternoon and unlocked two hidden characters, but didn't manage to improve our stats or collect a complete set of any über-trick. Bits of those must be scattered across the other mountains as well, and we got far too lost in the first one to venture out into the wider, more dangerous world.

We'll have a deeper dig into the game next month, although we've probably already had considerably more skiing time here than we would have had if we'd paid big money to do the real thing.

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