Normally when you think of skateboarding games, you think of high scores and leaderboards — that's what it's all about, right? Well, that and H-O-R-S-E, of course. Stringing insane combos together to build up ridiculous high scores has been a mainstay in the genre since even before the days of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. It seems almost odd to think of a skateboarding game that's completely devoid of high scores and leaderboards, but that's exactly what The Ramp is. Billed as a 'digital toy', it strips back the skateboarding genre to its bare essentials; just you, a skateboard, and a few ramps. There are no points to earn, no high scores, and no optional tasks.
In keeping with the minimal nature of the game, booting it up will present you with a simple menu screen to start yourself off. Here, you can choose whether your skater is a male or female, black or white (there's literally nothing between those options). From there, you can choose the game's first of four skateparks to play around in, with a handy tutorial to get you started. You can't pick the other levels until you complete the tutorial, but it really only takes a few minutes to get to grips with the gameplay.
If you've ever played any of the excellent Tony Hawk games on the GBA, you'll pretty much know what you're getting into in terms of gameplay. Presented from an isometric viewpoint, you've got near enough a full view of each skatepark. Once you get yourself going, your skater will move automatically — all you need to do is steer and hold down 'A' to get a bit of speed going. Releasing 'A' at the right time is key to getting decent air, and it's here that you can start to pull off some tricks, all of which are mapped to the right analogue stick. Sadly, there's no option to grind, nor even any option to manually ollie. Once you're up to speed with the gameplay, you can toggle 'Hardcore Mode', which just increases the chance of bailing if you happen to land a trick awkwardly.
The game will let you know which trick you've pulled off, along with the rotation degree of your airtime upon landing — but that's pretty much it. When we say there's nothing else to it, we mean it. There's no time limit to your play sessions, so you can effectively skate for as long as you like. Even when you bail, you'll be plonked right back onto the starting position to can go again. Granted, when you really get yourself moving and pull off a string of decent tricks together, you kind of sink into a state of contentment, and it's genuinely quite a relaxing experience. The problem, however, is that when you eventually bail and find that you've got nothing in terms of rewards for your accomplishments, it's hard not to wonder what the point of it all is. Perhaps our combo-addled mind has been too conditioned by years score-chasing to just relax and enjoy the ride.
Nevertheless, for its relatively low price, The Ramp does control reasonably well, and although the range of tricks on offer is undoubtedly quite limited, there's plenty of fun to be had here if you're not bothered about gaining scores or doing tasks like collecting S-K-A-T-E tokens. If you're after something a bit meatier, then you'll be better off going for something like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, or OlliOlli World, but The Ramp does have a certain minimal charm which we enjoyed.