Cool Boarders is a series of snowboarding-based racing games developed by UEP Systems and (in its latter installments) Idol Minds / 989 Studios in the late 90's and early 2000's for the Sony PlayStation and PlayStation 2.
Each installment of the series allows players to take control of various snowboarders in a quest to conquer several different courses in various locales across the world, via various gameplay modes. The first game, released in 1996, offered three tracks (plus two hidden maps), two selectable characters and a handful of boards to try, with players being encouraged to beat time or stunt records on each course. The second game (released in 1997) introduced the staple Competition mode, where players competed against CPU-controlled opponents to advance through several increasingly difficult stages, interspersed with qualifying events where players try to get the best stunt and trick scores. The third added six different modes for each course, in addition to a wider selection of characters (including real-life snowboarders who lent their likenesses to the game). Later installments allowed the player to enhance their abilities by beating certain challenges or modes.
The games included tracks in various locations, including mountains, villages, caves and more, and secret characters with enhanced abilities could be unlocked by completing difficult courses or beating time/stunt records
The franchise ended after Cool Boarders 2001, released in 2000 for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2.
The series includes the following installments:
- Cool Boarders (1996)
- Cool Boarders 2 (1997)
- Cool Boarders 3 (1998)
- Cool Boarders 4 (1999)
- Cool Boarders Burrrn (1999, released in the U.S. as Rippin' Riders Snowboarding and in Europe as Snow Surfers)
- Cool Boarders Pocket (2000)
- Cool Boarders: Code Alien (2000, Japan-only)
- Cool Boarders 2001 (2000, re-released for the PS2 in 2001)
Not to be confused with Cool Board.
This series has examples of the following tropes:
- Acrofatic: Burg in 3 and 4.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Irin and Cindy in 2.
- Announcer Chatter: The first two games are full of it (as well as Burrrn). Thankfully excised starting with the Idol Minds-developed games.
- Anti-Frustration Features: It's a lot easier to land tricks in 3 through 2001, due to an entirely new game engine and revamped controls.
- Bare Your Midriff: Sasha in 3.
- Bragging Rights Reward:
- The Snowman character in the original game, 2 (unlocked by getting 100 tricks in the Master Big Air event), Burrrn and 2001.
- The Gray Alien in 2 (unlocked by scoring 37.9 points or higher in the halfpipe), Burrrn' and 2001.
- In 2 and 3, the "Boss" character is unlocked by beating Mirror Mode.
- Brutal Bonus Level:
- "Dive Into The Cave" in 2. It's part of the Competition in Hard Mode.
- "Avalanche" in 3.
- "Dancing Devils" in Burrrn.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In 2, Boss is the most fluidly-controlled of the characters, has obscene stats for all fields (unlike the starting characters) and never makes a mistake or ever slows down in the later races, forcing the player to get first place in the last few qualifying events if they want a chance in Hell of beating him.
- Continuity Nod: The practice course from 2 can be unlocked in Burrrn by beating the game, and in 2001 by beating all 5 standard courses (beating the top score in this stage unlocks the Snowman hidden character from the first three games).
- Cruelty Is the Only Option: Players in 3 and 4 have the option of punching CPU characters who get too close in the face (and they never hit back). This becomes a necessity in later courses where the AI becomes unfairly fast and overpowered.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Falling off a cliff or hitting water in most games does nothing other than make you lose a few seconds of time. Lampshaded by the announcer in the first game, who says, "I thought you were history!"
- Difficult, but Awesome: Jin in 2 is the fastest of the default characters, and has terrible handling and stability to boot. However, if one learns how to control him effectively (by using constant adjustments while riding and always crouching), Jin can easily get enough of a lead in the early races that the other CPU opponents will never catch up to him.
- Disc-One Nuke: The Gray Alien in 2 has better stats than all the human characters, can be unlocked near the beginning of the game with enough practice, and makes several of the jumps and races much easier.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The original game is a far cry from the later installments, and looks like a glorified demo in comparison. There were no characters to choose from besides a male/female model that look similar, a limited handful of boards, no competition mode, no competitors, terrible hit detection (with the players sometimes bouncing out of control between walls in tight spaces if they hit the sides), no training modes and bugs galore (the characters can disappear for a couple seconds while jumping). Notably, it was also the only one of the first four games not to receive a PlayStation Greatest Hits release.
- Endless Game: Even if you get through 100 tricks in Master Big Air, earning the best title, the game will keep throwing instructions at you until you fail.
- Foreign Re-Score: The first two games had completely different soundtracks when imported to the U.S.
- Harder Than Hard: The Japanese Mirror Tournament mode and Master Big Air event in 2, where the win conditions are much more strict than the American/European versions.
- Internal Homage: 2 reuses large sections of levels from the original game in its opening courses.
- Joke Character:
- Lemony Narrator: The announcer in 2, who throws out phrases like, "This next race features the freshest of the fresh riders around!" and "There's the finish line! Don't eat it now!"
- No Fair Cheating: In 3, after you put in the password that unlocks everything, a voice says "Cheater!" The game still lets you use the code, though.
- No One Could Survive That!: The crashes and drops off massively-high cliffs.
- Nostalgia Level: The training course from 2, which is unlocked in 2001 if the player beats all of the standard courses.
- Obstacle Ski Course: 3, 4 and 2001 have courses full of obstructions like broken branches, logs, entire villages, rocks, crystals, ravines, etc.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: The announcer in the original game and 2.
- Product Placement: Burton Snowboards, Swatch and Butterfinger (among others) in 3.
- Sequel Difficulty Spike: 2001. You have to complete a mandatory training course, and if you mess up three tricks at any time, you have to restart the entire sequence. Only one track is open from the start of the game, and advancement requires you to hit certain score milestones before proceeding (as opposed to previous entries, where you merely had to beat the course).
- Slo-Mo Big Air: During the replays of various qualifying events.
- Split Screen: Beginning with 2.
- Stopped Numbering Sequels: The last three installments for the series dispensed with the numbering scheme and decided on one-off titles (Pocket, Code Alien, 2001).
- Time Trial
- Title Scream: The first two games - "Coooooooooool BOARDERS!"
- To Be a Master: You can only get the title "Cool Boarder!" if you can execute all 100 tricks in Master Mode, which takes a significant amount of time and practice.
- Totally Radical
- Underground Level: At least one in each game after the original.
- Updated Re-release: 2001 for the PlayStation 2.