Bored of 'normal' sports? Football too slow? Hockey not violent enough? Soccer matches last too long? If that sounds like you, you need something more extreme. Either that, or there are way too many E-numbers in your diet. Try to cut down on the fizzy drinks.
A less drastic measure may be to look elsewhere for your videogame kicks, and where better than the Dreamcast's Sega Extreme Sports? However, if you're expecting rollerblades, skateboards and BMX, you're in for a disappointment. But only one that lasts for a few seconds when you realise that said modes of transport and stunt fodder have been replaced by snowboards, mountain bikes, ATVs and hang-gliders. Oh, and a bit of bungee jumping for good measure.
Yes, Extreme Sports goes all out to offer the player a totally new experience, and to be honest, it succeeds - for the most part.
At its heart, Extreme Sports is a racing game spread over a multitude of different stages that must be completed by jumping from one vehicle to another after reaching a checkpoint. So, you start at the top of a mountain and snowboard to the foothills; go through a checkpoint, jump onto a quad bike and then scramble through a forest to the next checkpoint etc etc, until eventually you reach the ultimate goal - the finish line.
Most of the sections of the 'race' are really quite good fun and could easily have been used to create standalone games in their own right. For instance, while a little on the basic side, the Snowboarding sections are easily better than Rippin' Riders'; and the ATV/Quad sections are a lot of fun. On the other hand, some sections are a little on the lacklustre side - the Mountain bike bits are basic beyond belief and feature some lame physics (smash into a rock and bounce away, but land a jump at the slightest of angles and come a cropper); whilst the hang-gliding sections are nothing short of unplayable.
As is usual for this style of game, there is a selection of characters to play as (both male and female) and they make up the starting grid of 4 participants per race. In practice though, it doesn't really matter whom you select to 'be,' because as far as I could tell all the characters play identically. The only real difference between them all is the colour of vehicle they straddle and the design of their garb.
As mentioned earlier, gameplay is pretty sweet overall and the races tend to be tight, have lots of overtaking and lots of battling for position. As such, you are bequeathed with a 'boost' bar that once operated gives you an extra burst of speed that can mean the difference between first and last place at the finish line.
As far as the aesthetic aspects go, Extreme Sports is also quite a good-looking title. Due to the nature of the races, the courses tend to be quite open and feature quite amazing depth of field and draw distances. There is a downside to this openness though, and that is the way the Dreamcast simplifies the landscape in the distance and then ups the detail as you approach. Unfortunately, the CPU can't do it fast enough and so the landscape appears to 'morph' in places and takes on the appearance of plasticine as it builds itself. Apart from that though, there is little to complain about with Extreme Sports. Character models are well rendered and high-res, trees and course-based objects look great and there are lots of cool effects thrown into the mix, like lens flares and such.
The choice of locations ranges from the obvious (snow covered mountain terrain and deserts) to the bizarre (snowboarding down a grass covered mountain?), but all are pretty easy on the eye, and are never so ridiculous they are unbelievable.
Furthermore, the music is an astonishingly good, almost Jet Grind Radio-esque blend of laid back beats and samples that wouldn't sound out of place in a club.
So, what you get with Extreme Sports is a totally acceptable, if a little unorthodox racing title that has its fair share of highs and lows. As a result, it comes recommended as an example of how originality can go a long way toward creating a unique experience, and Extreme Sports is certainly unique.