I have really cloudy memories of the Christmas when we got our PlayStation 2. We were at my grandparents’ house, and I mostly remember just both my brother and I completely losing our minds in excitement. Those videos of kids absolutely flipping over getting a Switch? That was us about 20 years ago.

SSX was one of the games we got along with the PS2. And honestly, I’m not surprised that it became one of my favorite games right away.

Let me start by saying this particular game technically wasn’t my first. I was certainly playing N64 games and PlayStation 1 long before my older brother and I ever placed our hands on our PlayStation 2. But SSX is really one of the first games that I have extremely vivid memories of playing as a young kid and then for years afterwards, even to this day.

The general premise is snowboarding… very extreme snowboarding. This was back when sports games (specifically of the snowboarding/skateboarding variety) were kind of one of the biggest things. I was super excited to play SSX because the cover art alone was colorful, exciting, and made me want to learn to snowboard. SSX wasn’t the only sports-related game I played (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater got plenty of screen time too), but the snowboarding in SSX was just much more appealing to me because it looked so fun and seemed closer to something that my rather uncoordinated child-self might actually be able to do one day!

Cover of SSC, which shows a brown skinned person on a snowboard, wearing a yellow helmet and shirt. SSX, EA Canada, EA Sports BIG, 2000.

So me, being a kid, easily got into SSX. There was something so fun in getting to pick one of eight characters, customizing the outfits and boards you unlock the more you play, and trying to land as many intense tricks as possible. My brother and I spent loads of time just playing through each different race you could play, and we worked at unlocking as much as we could in the game.

Courses you could play ranged from a giant pinball machine-like setup to a wild ride through a tropical island-themed race. These were easily two of my favorites, because the concept of snowboarding at all was kind of awesome, but snowboarding through a huge pinball machine with various lifts, hills, and long curves to pull tricks on was a whole other level.

The thing about SSX is it wasn’t just a game that I played for a few years after its initial release. SSX was a way for my brother and me to spend time together, for my friends and me to sink time into on the weekend, and for me to have something to spend hours playing throughout middle and high school. For a game that’s all about extreme snowboarding (to the point of tricks often being physically impossible) that doesn’t have too much in the way of story, SSX has been with me for actual decades at this point. The fun and joy I gain from it is really something that can’t be replaced.

It’s wild to think I was only about five years old when I first started playing the game. It’s really been one I’ve spent most of my life playing on and off; there’s a sense of familiarity to it by now. It’s one of those games that I can replay over and over, and it never loses its sense of fun, even though I spent so much time in middle and high school running the courses and trying to land all the different tricks. It’s a great stress reliever, especially because it’s a game that I have played so much.

It’s wild to think I was only about five years old when I first started playing the game. It’s really been one I’ve spent most of my life playing on and off; there’s a sense of familiarity to it by now.

Even during the pandemic, I’ve found myself playing SSX amidst new titles that I have on my PS4. The familiarity of the game and just being able to replay all of the different tracks that I’ve come to know so well is a nice comfort right now, especially when sometimes replaying a game I’ve already played so much actually lets me take a slight mental break when I don’t really want to focus too much on a narrative.

I tend to get really nostalgic now when I play SSX. It’s most definitely a comfort game for me, and I have so many happy memories associated with it that I don’t ever see myself getting tired of playing. It’s been out for 20 years at this point, which definitely speaks to its impact on me! I never would have thought a snowboarding game that came out in late 2000 would really stick around for me, but I’m glad it’s a game that I can still enjoy today.

Read the rest of the My First Game series.