Though it never enjoyed the mass market success of kart racing franchises like Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing, Snowboard Kids' polished game mechanics and stylish presentation ensured the game's status as a surprising cult hit.
Gameplay consists of four snowboarders racing down a mountain course. Racers can perform tricks and acquire power-ups through item/shot boxes to gain the upper hand. A lap is completed when a racer reaches the bottom of the course and goes through the lift gate. The racer is lifted back up to the start of the course to begin the next lap. The first racer who reaches the bottom of the course on the final lap wins the race.
The main game mode of Snowboard Kids. The players races against three opponents on a race course and earns money accumulated during the race. Shinobin and additional race courses can be unlocked once the player earns first place on the first six courses.
There are three skill games available to play in Snowboard Kids: speed, shot, and trick.
Speed: The speed skill game challenges the player to post the fastest time on the course. Fans are scattered throughout the race course for the players to acquire a temporary speed boost. This mode can only be played on Rookie Mountain, Big Snowman, and Sunset Rock.
Shot: The shot skill game challenges the player to shoot and destroy as many snowmen scattered on the course. The player has unlimited ammo to use, but shooting too many shots in a quick matter results in overheating and unable to shoot for a few seconds before they are able to shoot again. Only Rookie Mountain, Big Snowman, and Sunset Rock are the available courses to play this mode.
Trick: The trick mode challenges the player to accumulate as many trick points on the course for three minutes. A special course (Animal Land) is designated for this course that has particular features for players to performs numerous tricks on.
The time attack challenges players to post the fastest time on a course. Unlike the speed skill game mode, time attack mode can be played on all courses. Also, the player is limited to one fan which they can use at their discretion.
Local Battle Race Multiplayer (2 to 4 Players)
Local multiplayer in Snowboard Kids is limited to a battle race. All race courses, characters and boards unlocked from the single player modes can be used here.
Snowboard Kids has a total of six characters to play. Each character is rated out of three stars in three attributes: speed, turn, and trick.
An all-around character, Slash is a good choice for beginning players. He doesn't have any particular weaknesses, but nor does he have any specific strengths.
Though she is the slowest character in the game, Nancy is superb both at tricks and at turning.
Jam is the character most similar to Nancy. He is slightly faster than her, though this comes at the cost of him being slightly worse at both tricks and turning.
- Speed: 1.5
- Turn: 2.5
- Trick: 2.5
The fastest character in the game, the portly Tommy can easily achieve breakneck speeds, though this comes at the cost of extraordinarily poor tricks and turning ability.
Very similar to Tommy, Linda is a slightly slower version of him with minute improvements in her handling and tricks.
- Speed: 2.5
- Turn: 1.5
- Trick: 1.5
Once beaten, this difficult ninja-like opponent is unlocked as a playable character. His turning and tricks are at Jam's level, while his speed is at Linda's. This effectively makes him an all-around balanced character like Slash, albeit better in every regard.
- Speed: 2.5
- Turn: 2.5
- Trick: 2.5
One of the shortest and easiest tracks in the game. A good beginner's course. Default 5 laps.
The longest course in the game which features multiple high ramps where more difficult special tricks can be performed. Default 2 laps.
A course run the sunset which include penguins on course, a railing to grind on, and a big snowman in the middle of the course that shoots snowmen toward the racers. Default 3 laps.
A course run on an abandoned highway which features narrow sections, tricky jump gaps, and multiple shortcuts. Default 3 laps.
This course goes through a mine shaft, farmland, as well as a small village. The first course without any snow. Default 3 laps.
Who doesn't want to snowboard through an amusement park? Not to be confused with Disneyland, this theme park features spinning tea cups that launch you backwards much like a pinball bumper. Default 3 laps.
The first unlockable course, this is considered to be the hardest course in the game. It is run through a hot desert and consists of quick sand, branching paths, and tricky jumps to tumble to your doom (or rather last place). Default 3 laps.
The second unlockable course, this course's intense fog diminishes the racer's visibility to see the course's jumps and turns ahead. At least you're back on snow. Default 3 laps.
The last course to unlock. One of the shortest courses in the game, it is run through a feudal Japanese setting. Shinobin appears as a competing racer in this course. Default 9 laps.
Power-ups are divided up into two types: "Shots" and "Items". Both types of power-ups are acquired by going through a box found on course at the cost of 100 coins.
Shots provide the racer an offensive weapon to use against other racers. They are indicated in red boxes on the race course and are acquired in a set-of-three.
Bombs: Bombs expel a large blast radius upon impact against a wall or hit racer. Other racers in the vicinity of the blast radius will be knocked down as well.
Slapstick: Slapsticks are giant hands hurled toward other racers where they knock down a racer if they are hit by it. They come out fast and tracks a racer like a homing missile.
Parachutes: Parachutes are chutes when a racer is hit, they are thrown up in the air then slowly fall back to the ground. This item is effective to use against others by jump ramps, as they'll lose valuable time and race position by waiting many seconds to fall back down to the ground.
Snowman: Snowman transforms a racer hit by this item into a snowman. While a snowman, you cannot turn and will keep going until a few seconds are up when you are free to move again, or you hit a wall and knocked down. Snowman are able to bounce off walls.
Freeze Shot: Freeze shots will freeze the racer hit by it. Other racers who run into the frozen racer will hit the character like they've hit a wall.
Items provide defensive or trump-card like items to use against other racers. They are indicated in blue boxes on the race course.
Pans: Probably the most comical item in this game, and usually given to the racer in last place. Pans target all other racers and squashes them with a pan overhead and are unavoidable to dodge. Only the invincibility item can prevent a targeted racer from being squashed.
Invisible: Invincibility provides a racer temporary protection from most items. Racers can lose invincibility early if they trip over a rock or they hit a wall. Invisible racers can be affected by ghosts and rats.
Speed Fan: The speed fan provides a racer a speed boost for a short length of time.
Rat: The rat steals ALL the money that the leading player has. If the leading player acquires and uses this item, it'll steal all the money of whomever is in second place.
Rock: The rock trips any character who comes in contact with it. It is fairly small so it is difficult to see on the race course.
Ghost: The ghost slows down the leading player. The leading player can be affected with multiple ghosts from trailing racers. If the leading racer uses ghost, the racer in second place gets affected.
There are three main types of snowboards racers can select. These boards can be upgraded to three levels, each one slightly better than the last.
All-Around: All-around boards have equal speed, turning and trick stats.
Alpine: Alpine boards have the highest speed, but lowest turning and trick ability.
Freestyle: Freestyle boards have the lowest speed, but highest turn and trick abilities.
Once the game has been completed, players may earn new "Special Boards". The three special boards include the Star Board, the Feather Board, and the Ice Board. Shinobin is the only character that cannot equip these boards.
The Star Board has the speed of an Alpine board, but has the turning of a freestyle board.
The Feather Board has the best trick ability in the game as it is able to stay in the air much longer than other boards.
The Ice Board is a "joke board" where its turning abilities are negligent, despite its decent speed and trick abilities.
Shinobin is an exception with this own "Shinobin" brand boards. For example, his Alpine board is shaped like a Kunai and is essentially called Shinobin Board 3.
The trick system is there for players to earn money so that they can buy items in game. Depending on the difficulty of the trick, you will earn a certain amount of money.
Grabs: Racers can perform a grab by grabbing a hand to a particular side of their board in the air. Only one grab can be performed, but the grab can be held as long as the racer is airborne.
Spins: Racers can perform spins or flips off jump ramps. Only one spin/flip move is permitted for a racer in the air.
Signature Tricks: In addition to the above tricks, all characters can perform their special tricks that nets large amounts of money if done successfully. For players, a specific analog motion while holding the A button will wind your character up to do a special trick.