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It’s Tricky To Rock A Rhyme, To Rock A Rhyme That’s Right On Time, It’s Tricky

It's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)

Tricky Madness

For decades – the majority of my life, at this point – I have asked for just one thing: a spiritual successor to SSX 3. But in lieu of that, a spiritual successor to SSX Tricky will do.

Tricky Madness is an indie snowboarding game that unabashedly owes a lot to EA’s lost-but-not-forgotten arcade-y snowboarding series. It just released a demo that’s so lacking in meat as to nearly qualify as vegan, but the bones are there. The demo contains just one level with a handful of branching paths and two modes: freestyle and time trials. You can see pretty much all it has to offer in 15 minutes or so. The final game is set to include eight maps and a campaign with an open-world mountain -- ala SSX 3 -- but this is a far cry from that.

That said, Tricky Madness nails the feeling of SSX: the speed, the rhythm of bracing yourself for a big jump and then chaining together as many flips, spins, and tricks as possible before just barely sticking the landing and picking up another speed boost. Just in case you weren't already certain of its primary inspiration, the game also includes a Tricky Meter you can fill up by successively landing tricks, at which point you gain access to a special suite of Uber Tricks. Oh, and there are giant yellow and orange snowflake-shaped score multipliers everywhere in the sky. It's all there.

The soundtrack, too, feels very intentionally reminiscent of SSX Tricky, albeit sans licensed songs like “It’s Tricky” by Run DMC, an anthem that defined an era. What’s already there is solid, though (and available on Spotify, for those who hate snowboarding games but love music written for snowboarding games).

At this point, I’m most interested in seeing how Tricky Madness develops its own identity over time. The SSX games had a cast of colorful characters who’d perform all sorts of wacky tricks and holler about how great they were as their combo meters rocketed into the stratosphere. Remember the orange afro guy whose signature move was performing The Worm on his board? Right now, Tricky Madness just has… a few very normal-looking snowboarders with no voice lines, though it seems like the developer is at least hoping to change that last bit.

If nothing else, they’ve got plenty of time. Tricky Madness is not set to release in full until Q4 2025, with early access planned for this summer. It’s off to a promising start, but can it, like so many snowboarders both real and digital, stick the landing? I sure hope so. After more than two decades of waiting, we definitely can’t count on EA to give us what we (read: I) want. Even if Tricky Madness somehow ends up being a total wipeout, I at least appreciate the effort.  

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