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For: Mobile

Black piste

Product: 3Style | Developer: Gameleons | Publisher: Gameleons | Format: Mobile | Genre: Simulation, Sports | Players: 1 | Networking: Bluetooth | Format: J2ME | File size: 212KB | Reviewed on: K750i other handsets | Version: Europe
3Style Mobile, thumbnail 1
For those not born to cruise the piste, the thought of donning skis or snowboard and hurtling down a mountain may evoke only the sound of breaking bones rather than the imagined applause of a crowd of amazed onlookers. Sure, the mountain scenery may be beautiful, but no matter how confident you may be with your fancy reflective goggles, you're only ever a hidden stone away from a broken tibia.

3Style isn't afraid to represent the perils of snowboarding and, with its ragdoll physics, doesn't shy away from the cracking of calcium. It's all about making your way down the mountain in the most stylish and exuberant way, pulling stunts and unlikely leaps without collapsing in a bloody heap in-between.

There are 15 levels on offer, but it isn't the landscapes in particular that differentiate them, even though 3Style does manage to represent snow-covered mountains quite prettily. Rather, it's the manner by which you can ramp up your scores.

There are a number of tricks on offer, from the simple loop-the-loop to board grabs and mid-air flips. Tricks are generally executed with single button-presses, although grabs require two (the second one disengages the grab). Getting a top score is all about upping your score multiplier, but some levels will only allow this when performing a certain type of trick. The ultimate restriction is the one that voids any score multiplier as soon as you touch the ground, forcing you to jump from ramp to rail between each jump.

Movement is all physics-based, making accurate control even more important. Lean too far back or forward whilst grinding in the snow down a slope and you'll topple. Fall over and any score multiplier is instantly lost. Each of the 15 levels has three score achievements to grab: the bronze, silver and gold medals. At least for the first few slopes, you should be able to earn a few bronze medals without worrying about score multipliers too much, but to have any chance of getting a gold you'll generally need a crash-free run.

Although difficult from the outset, making your way to the finish line without doing an icy headstand is made even harder by the fact the physics are a little idiosyncratic. Considering you're sliding down a mountain, your character actually moves rather slowly for the most part. You might think this would make keeping upright easier, but unfortunately all your movements are tainted by the same sort or glutinous inertia.

When managing a grind off the back of your board, for example, it's actually very hard to save yourself should you misjudge the angle even slightly. Past a certain point, all you can do is watch as your character crumples into the snow, taking with it any chance of you winning the gold.

Of course, this is generally what failure feels like in the achievements-based world of modern gaming, but 3Style will test the limits of your endurance, with the highest accolades likely requiring dozens of attempts at slopes for your average gamer. That said, its physics engine does begin to make a frustrating sort of sense after a while of playing. It's not that it's faulty as such, just not very forgiving.

As such, 3Style should delight gamers looking for a casual game that also features a profound dimension of challenge to it. Each of the game's levels only takes a couple of minutes to play, but a single one can easily suck up half an hour if you're desperately grasping for the next trophy.

3Style does a lot of things right, and its attempts to use real physics are admirable. Unfortunately, since the successes of the FMX series of physics-based games, we've gotten a bit pickier. Here, the fact you can't really save yourself from crashing in most situations becomes irritating.

Anyone looking for a challenge may well lap if up, but casual gamers should slalom on past. For those a little less green around the ears, feel free to add another point to our score. Plus, find a suitably masochistic friend and the Bluetooth multiplayer should be a real blast.
Reviewer photo
Andrew Williams | 2 April 2008
Thanks to its cumbersome physics, 3Style's difficulty may put casual gamers off. However, if you're looking for a steep challenge, 3Style comes recommended
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