I feel like Winter sports are really under represented in gaming. The Summer Olympics gets games regularly whereas winter sports get the duff end of the deal. Where is my China 2022 Olympics game?! I’ve been buying some older titles and Ultimate Ski Jumping 2020 is the most recent non-vr winter game I’ve bought. I wanted to like it but it feels underwhelming.
Since its a single sport, Ultimate Ski Jumping 2020 (USJ) tries to bulk out its gameplay with lots of different slopes to jump off. This works really nicely initially as you get to practice in a back alley, then progress to club slopes and all the way up to the big Olympic giants. As a slope gets bigger, you get faster and the timing of when you press a button to lift off the slope gets harder. Once in the air you must duck your character forward and balance the skies before pressing the button to land safely. Get any wrong and you’ll either have a pretty sad looking leap or crash into a bundle of limbs.
Or does it really matter much? That was my impression after a couple of hours getting through to the finale of career mode. No matter when I pressed my launch, it felt like whether it was good or great or bad was almost randomised. When I was up in the air, I would uncross my skies and duck but get wildly different results. It felt like there was something I just wasn’t getting but even when I took into account the wind directions on the flags – I was still none the wiser. This extended to friends when we tried playing locally for a competition. None could fathom quite what the knack was supposed to be. It just felt very disconnected.
I quite like the 2D artstyle, it feels very Epyx 1992 which I have a soft spot for. I like that some customisation can be unlocked for your jumper with cash earned through gameplay. Online exists but no one was playing but I assume it works fine. I was just confused as to why I’d be 1st or 70th in a competition and very rarely anything in-between. This is a game where a tiny bit of visual UI to show what should be done would have gone such a long way.
I don’t want to hate on USJ 2020 but there are games such as Lillehammer ’94 and even Torino 2006 that do this sport better and they have other sports alongside them. That makes it difficult to recommend to anyone really and so I can’t. There’s a market here for something like this, it just needs some love and attention.
Ultimate Ski Jumping 2020
Too basic and with little help to judge where you've gone right or wrong, this feels like a good idea that's needed more time in the oven.
A nice career mode with plenty of different slopes.
Local and online multiplayer options (although online is barren).
No visual or gameplay feedback to understand why you can do the same thing twice and get different results.
Feels very hands off for an eSport or competition.
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