Val d'Isere Skiing & Snowboarding

'Tis the season to be jolly and all that, so I thought it was appropriate to have a look at a unique snow-covered game on the ol' Jag. The game? Val d'Isere, naturally. I actually have no idea how you would pronounce that name, by the way. One video I saw on Youtube had a guy who pronounced it "Valley of Desire." How close that is, I don't know...but sounds feasible to me! Especially if you're the kind of gamer who desires decent Mode 7-style graphics and a bucket-load of courses to snowboard and ski down...! I'm here all week, folks.

As the name suggests, Val d'Isere is a snowboard and skiing game, and I must admit to having played a few of these in the past. 1080 and Snowboard Kids ("Yay!") on the N64, Snow Surfers on the Dreamcast and SSX on the PS2 spring (slalom) to mind instantly. Before those though, I can't actually remember playing any others. So chronologically at least, Val d'Isere is the earliest snowboard and skiing game I've played. Chronologically as in 'when it came out' as opposed to 'when I played it,' you understand. Otherwise I'd have to have invented time travel, and if I'd achieved that, would I be sat here writing this now? No. I'd be stood behind Steve Jobs in his garage looking over his shoulder and taking pictures of his technical drawings. But I digress.

The first thing I noticed about Val d'Isere was the snow-covered Jaguar logo on the box:

Debatable. The yellow bit, I mean.

How cool is that?! The second thing I noticed was that Virtual Studio (the developer) likes to plaster it's logo all over everything. Seriously, every loading screen and advertising board is just the Virtual Studio logo, with the exception of a bit of FILA advertising. To be honest, I can see why though - Val d'Isere is one fairly technically impressive title for the time, and maybe they were trying to get Atari to take notice of their game engine. Granted, out there on the piste there's not much for the Jag to render (look at the draw distance for goodness sake!), but what we do see is finely rendered and the whole thing moves at a tremendous pace. The courses undulate smoothly and sprite-based trackside objects whiz by at a phenomenal rate, and this kind of game makes me believe a port of the 3DO's Road Rash could probably have been done on the a cart. No, really.

Controls are pretty much identical regardless of whether you race as a 'boarder or a skier, and the courses all look much the same, but the music is rocking and the speed is immense. The framerate never stutters and even though it can be annoying (why can't I do any tricks?!), the number of courses and the myriad options make Val d'Isere a fantastic addition to any Jag gamer's library.

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