So, I managed to complete all of the racing events in SSX 3 without ever doing a flip. I didn’t do this on purpose. I do like to give myself extra tasks in games, just to challenge myself and create a extra reasons to return. This time, though, it was not intentional; I just didn’t know the controls.

To be fair, the game isn’t super clear on how to play it. The tutorial is in the player’s Message Center menu, where you’ll read “tutorial emails” that describe how to play the game over several paragraphs. If that sounds a bit like a mini wiki page… well, it kind of is exactly like that. In case you think I’m exaggerating, here is a screenshot of the “What is a pre-wind?” email, which explains the first part of performing a flip:


As you can see, this says nothing about the D-pad (which is required for flipping). Neither does the segment on specific tricks, and you won’t find it mentioned anywhere in the tricks tutorial. There isn’t even a page for flips; I learned how to flip by watching SSX 3 video guides. (I should point out that there is a loading screen that shows the controller layout, but it’s usually not up for very long and I haven’t found a way to manually trigger its appearance.)

But that wasn’t until after I had already beat all the racing events. Oops.

There is a picture of the controls… but only for a few seconds on certain loading screens. I didn’t notice that it pointed out the controls for flips until after I had looked at those guides.

Without Uber tricks — or any reliable way to build my Uber meter, which I use for boosting — I was pretty much relying on the fastest path with the least airtime and lots of rails.

Except rails aren’t great. At first, I was more likely to wipe out on a rail than actually clipping to it and doing the rail. Part of this is that the overall feel of the game requires a bit of getting used to. Another part is that grinding is not always going to work — and I need to accept that.


I think the biggest issue with rails is how they are meant to chain into each other. You jump from one rail to the next, and most of the time, this relies on autorunning. A rail leads right to the next, and if you don’t move around too much and just focus on keeping your balance, you’d probably automatically land on the next one… but not always. Sometimes a rail will lead directly to the next one, and my character would still wipe out between them — but only some of the time. To me, that feels like more of an inconsistency in the game than my own skill at it.

But back to flipping, or my lackthereof…

Of course I couldn’t do the freestyle challenges, which require you to focus on your score. But without flipping, I could do all the races. And race I did. I was originally thinking that this game was way harder than I remember it, but that’s just because I was very limited in how I could play it. Knockdowns (or punching people over) would gain a full Uber bar, so I did feel incentivized to fight a bit, though mostly I just relied on quick paths.

Without boosting, though, SSX 3 can be very punishing. If you fall, you can’t use a boost to catch back up. The game also has a tendency to get you stuck in places (I had to restart a few times just because I was hopelessly stuck somewhere). Again, this is a problem in the game’s design rather than a result of user error (or lack of skill).


Despite my frustration, I still really like SSX 3. Nostalgia puts it in a very warm place in my heart. The maps are varied and fun, even without good trick boosting. Despite the game’s feel taking some getting used to, it’s really rewarding once you catch on. I really do feel “on” when I’m on a roll, and there’s a sense of pride that comes with winning a race, or even pulling off a certain portion of the game without losing speed or falling.

But now that I know how to flip, I’ll be approaching the game from a whole new angle.

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