Yesterday morning I got a chance to see the Target-exclusive versions of "Shaun White Snowboarding" for the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 at Target Studios in midtown Manhattan.
Trent Ward, the Wii game's creative director at Ubisoft Montreal, told me that the Olympic medal-winning snowboarder has partnered with the mass-market retailer for several years, so it made sense to create extra Target-inspired content. "I think with Shaun White, you get the Target relationship as part and parcel of it," he said. "We've actually offered the player something really useful; it's not just that we built something with branding on it."
So what's so special about the Target renditions of "Shaun White Snowboarding"?
The Wii and Xbox 360/PS3 versions of the game were developed by separate teams, but both games feature an exclusive "Target Mountain." It's essentially bonus content that's accessible at any point during the game.
Specifically, the Wii version, which uses Balance Board and/or Wii-mote, had five events, two slopes and one chalet, a lounge area that acts as a menu. The particular slope I saw had extra rails and jumps as well as Target branding throughout the level on passing signs, banners and flags.
For the Xbox 360/PS3 versions, animation director Scott Mitchell said that the dev team had specific people dedicated to creating the Target content, and they "went crazy" with it by adding longer rails and super-huge jumps to the slopes.
He mentioned that the Target Mountain included the only slope in the entire game that had a loop, and it's also the only place where you're able to unlock Shaun White as a playable character before completing the full game. In other words, in the non-Target versions for the Xbox 360/PS3, players will have to beat the game first before unlocking Shaun White. There's a Target-only chalet area as well.
When I asked about the possibility of the Target Mountain becoming downloadable content one day, Mitchell replied, "Not a chance." He said gamers were really missing out by not getting "Shaun White's Snowboarding" at Target.
"Shaun White Snowboarding" with the Target-exclusive content will be available when all versions of the game are released on November 17. However, the game will cost an additional five dollars more -- $54.99 for the Wii and $64.99 for the Xbox 360/PS3 -- than purchasing it at other retailers. The PC version will be in line with the Xbox 360/PS3 rendition, and the PS2, PSP and DS games will not feature additional Target-branded content.
Gamers, does this seem worth it to you? Do you feel like you're going to miss out by not buying the game at Target?