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November 29, 2001

SSX Sicky... er... Tricky
   [ posted by: R.I.P ]
Well, I've just spent the last couple of hours trying to play SSX Tricky on the GameCube... I've been really looking forward to this game for a long time, and held of on playing the PS2 version just so I could look at the GC version first without any bias.
Wow, I really wanted to like this game, but right now I'm torn between selling the game out of our library, or going to EA and poking the guy responsible for the game camera in the eye because he is clearly blind!
This was so bad that I threw in SSXT for the PS2 just to see if was a problem with the GC version only (since they've added tons of support for widescreen TVs into this version), or if it was universal to the game. Well while it's better enough in the PS2 version to not make sick, the problem is still noticeable there as well.
So, now that you're asking yourself what is this camera problem that's so bad I've twice felt like I was going to throw up after playing, and Salamander had to leave the room and issued an ultimatum that the game isn't to be turned on if she's in the room.
The problem is called fish-eyed lens.
What's happened here is some bright (cough) individual at EA felt that they needed to show more of the world to the player so that they can get a feel for just how big the course is. They do this by bending and warping the entire periphery of the screen so that the picture is scrunched up somewhat around the edges, while still remaining undistorted in the middle. Salamander said the insider term for this is "horse cam" because it allows you to see the world the way a horse would (a horse has eyes that point off at angles from their head so that they can have a greater range of view, but less overlap of vision dead ahead).
What's apparently made this so much worse on the GameCube is that they have added both a full-frame 16:9 aspect ratio view, as well as an the anamorphic projection view, and clearly the game was tuned for play on a widescreen TV with the fish-eye effects being distorted to accomodate the wider view aspect. This really makes the warping on the left and right sides of the screen painfully pronounced. If someone would have spent two seconds on a standard 4:3 TV like what 99% of humanity owns, they would have thrown up from playing the game and fixed the problem.
Let's put in perspective for the old timers here, if anyone remembers the old 3DO title Escape from Monster Manor, you'll instantly remember how bad the fish-eye camera in that game was (oh wait, that was an EA game also, hmmm). SSXT for the GC is equal if not worse in the nausea department than Monster Manor. Probably worse because after playing for an hour solid, I feel like I've been staring into a Virtual Boy.
Look for reviews of both of these games, hopefully soon... and if I can fortify my stomach to the job, I might just crank out a Head-to-Head. But as a precursor to the HtH, I'll say right now SSXT on the PS2 while graphically less attractive than the GC version, is at least playable.

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