It was the Call Of Duty of the time — an unbeatable franchise that the entire industry was trying to ape. But oversaturation and a general lack of new ideas meant that the genre quickly lost its relevance. EA's hoping that the return of the SSX franchise later in the year will usher in a new era for extreme sports.
"Over the past three years I cant tell you how many times I have heard [people claim that extreme sports is dead]. As a gamer who has been playing for more than 20 years and, as a huge fan of games like SSX and Tony Hawks Pro Skater, it is also something that I refuse to believe," said creative director Todd Batty in a post published on the PlayStation Blog.
"Dont get me wrong: I enjoy blowing things up and shooting people in the face as much as the next guy. But spending hundreds of hours with my friends stringing together endless combos in search of the perfect run in SSX and THPS is easily some of my fondest gaming memories.
"Fast forward nearly a decade and our team is hoping to not only re-launch one of the greatest IP franchises in EA Sports history, but to bring this type of experience back to the forefront of gaming. SSX is a game for gamers."
He continued: "Arcade games are challenging to design. On one hand, many players expect instant gratification from an arcade title and have little tolerance for an overly steep learning curve. This is actually true of most games today, but is even more important in this type of game. On the other hand, with a shallow learning curve and instant gratification comes the perception (which is often true) that the game lacks depth and is therefore only going to be enjoyable for a short time.
"Embracing this challenge from the onset, our team adopted a motto for SSX: 'make awesome easy, and make oh-my-god really hard'. Rather than following a more traditional zero-to-hero learning curve, SSX lets you feel like a hero from the first time you pick up the controller. And from there, with a little practice, or in some cases a lot of practice, you can start to perform like a superhero."
Batty explained that the team had three major goals for SSX, the main being to "recapture that core gameplay magic across Race, Trick and Survival events". The second was to build a huge world, and the third was to redefine social gaming in the process. Everything we've heard about SSX suggests that the development team achieved its goal.
What's even better is that the PS3 version of SSX comes with a shot of exclusive content. If you pick up the title for Sony's home platform you'll grab access to the legendary Japanese mountain, Mt. Fuji, which adds six totally unique race and trick drops to the game.
There's more information — including a new trailer — available on the PlayStation Blog. SSX slides onto PS3 on February 28th in North America and March 2nd in Europe.