Skate It


posted 2/28/2009 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Wii
Coming almost a full year after the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game, Skate It is neither a sequel nor a remake. Instead it's something of an expansion of the original game, though not using the same controls and not on the same system. It adds a few new areas, remixes the existing locations and changes up the control scheme, but at no point will you feel like you're playing a completely new game. But who cares, the original game was a lot of fun and there's no harm in giving Wii owners something to get excited about.

Unfortunately this Wii version isn't nearly as much fun as EA's first stab at the skateboarding genre. Perhaps it's because it's been so long since the first Skate graced my TV screen, or maybe it's the fact that the controls seem even wonkier this time around. Whatever the case, I had a much more difficult time getting into Skate It on the Wii, and try as I might I never had as much fun as I did when playing the 2007 original.

Skate It takes place in the same city as the first game, San Vanelona. Seconds into the introduction, the fictional city is rocked by a massive earthquake, which changed some of the landscape and, more importantly, empties the city of all of those pesky pedestrians that get in the way. I'm not sure where these people went; I hope it's not inside buildings, because that could be really dangerous. Oddly enough, it was thoughts of the San Vanelona residents that kept creeping back into my head. I suspect that's because the story in Skate It is so unspectacular that I had to make up my own more interesting narrative.

Once you get passed the introductions and start playing you'll find that Skate It is largely the same as Skate, only this time around you're using your Wii remote (or Wii Balance Board) to clumsily control your moves. By and large you're doing exactly the same thing you did in the first game, such as going from location to location completing events, impressing people with cameras and trying to become the best skate you can be. I suppose there are worse things to be doing, but it's hard not to notice that all of this feels very similar to what you did in the original Skate.

The challenges start out simple enough, requiring you to grind certain objects or get a certain score. However, after awhile you'll notice that the game is asking more and more of you, some of which is hard to pull off thanks to the somewhat tricky control scheme. By the end of the game you are being asked to pull off superhuman scores while linking a number of complicated moves in a combo. Fans of this type of thing will have a lot to work through, while more casual fans may find the game's structure too focused on missions rather than just having a relaxing time.

One thing that has definitely changed since the first game is the city of San Vanelona. Instead of being one large, wide-open world that you can play in, Skate It is split up into eight smaller locations. You have most of the same hip locations found in the first game (the library, a mega park, the downtown plaza, an elementary school, etc.), only without all of the fun of getting from place to place. Once you have warped to the new location (thanks to a map you can access at any time) you will be given a series of events to complete, and then when you've amassed enough skill points at that location you can either stay and do the rest of the missions or move on.

After the first hour or so I felt like I was having a déjà vu moment. Sure the graphics weren't as good and the controls felt kind of strange, but it felt like I had been here before and done all of these things already. And just like that the game throws me for a loop, giving me access to the San Vanelona airport. When that location popped up I figured I would be weaving around airplanes and tricking off of everything on the tarmac. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was about to fly around the world, to places like Paris, Shanghai and Barcelona. Like the areas in San Vanelona, these international locations are all very small and have their own individual challenges to accomplish.

Of course, the draw of the Skate series isn't the cool locations, instead it's the way the game controls. On the Xbox 360 Electronic Arts took the chance to completely change what we were used to and have you pull off tricks using the two analog sticks. This Wii version also has a unique control scheme ... three of them to be precise. The basic has you using both the Wii remote and the nunchuck, pulling off tricks by waving your hand around and flipping the control in interesting ways. There's also a mode that lets you plug in your Wii Balance Board to get more of that skateboarding feeling. The final control scheme involves just the Wii remote ... and that option is so terrible that I'm not even going to waste time talking about it.
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