Skate It Review
Posted by Kim Wild
Tony Hawk has a new competitor for the skating crown..
When Skate originally appeared on the Xbox 360 and PS3, it was something of a revelation to skateboarding fans who had previously only had the Tony Hawk series to contend with, each iteration proving to be similar to the last. Rather than focus on huge combinations of tricks like the Hawk, Skate flipped the genre on its head with a more realistic approach combined with a revolutionary control system that made good use of both control sticks. Skate It is the first game in the spin off series for the Nintendo DS and while there are some control issues to be had and isn't quite the experience of its big brother, it's a good attempt at trying out something new that has its own rewarding moments.
Much like Skate, the aim is to create your own skater and participate in a range of challenges to build up your reputation and experience. Although you can customise your clothes and board at the beginning of the game (with the ability to unlock more further down the line) the skaters themselves never really look any different regardless of gender or options chosen. Levels are solid but on the whole are quite bland to look at, the animation of the skaters is quite fluid and realistic to behold. There are occasions when crashing can result in a bizarre graphical glitch where the skater and object merge together, but thankfully this is corrected when the scene is reset.
Successful completion of events results in unlocking new areas and the opportunities to travel abroad, take part in competitions and earn lucrative sponsorship deals arise. Sadly, the open world arena that made the original Skate such a delight to explore has been removed in favour of challenges for each area. As this was one of the highlights of the original, this is something of a disappointment and no doubt due to space limitations of the machine. Despite the small screen and limited hardware, the DS does an admirable job of cramming in as many types of challenges as possible, from racing against fellow skaters, pulling off certain tricks within a time limit, filming combo sequences and performing a game of S.K.A.T.E- where each skater has to perform a trick flawlessly and failure results in a letter of the word (spell S.K.A.T.E and it's all over). The video camera challenges also feature and upon completion, you get to see a brief film clip of your trick taking place which gives a sense of accomplishment.
The first thing you'll notice upon playing is that even with the use of the extensive tutorials is that it's a pretty tough game to get to grips with. Due to leaning towards a simulation style of play, even the most basic of tricks will be beyond you at first, with crashing inevitable for the first few attempts. This is also partly due to the new control system which makes fun use of the touch screen and is entirely different from other skating games on the market. The stylus is used to draw on the touch screen to flip the board, with different motions generating varying tricks. Using the d-pad, L and R buttons while in the air in conjunction with the stylus strings together even more moves and is essential for pulling off more complicated manoeuvres.
At times this control scheme is a blessing and others it's a curse; once you've adjusted to the controls it's all the more satisfying when a difficult trick has been landed, it can also at times feel more fiddly than it should, particularly if you're up against the clock. There are however times when the touch screen doesn't register your moves correctly- infuriating if you need to perform specific tricks- but overall this doesn't occur as much as to cause you major problems.
One of the other highlights in the My Spot mode where you can create your own skate park to your own tastes. It is also possible to unlock additional ramps and parts by successfully completing challenges in the main game, giving you more incentive to keep playing. Multi-player mode is also a fun prospect particularly online and doesn't suffer from any slowdown issues.
While Skate It undoubtedly struggles with the limitations of the Nintendo DS console, once you persevere with the new touch screen control system and treat the game as a simulation of the sport rather than a conventional experience, you'll find that there is a more rewarding experience to enjoy here. Just expect to bail out a few times in the process.