You’ve got to admire the creativity of Skate It’s developers. While most companies can’t be bothered to explain why their next-gen ports look so shabby on the underpowered Wii, these guys came up with a whopper to explain why their skateboarding game looks so sparse and bland compared to the original version – there’s been an earthquake.
Yes, the Earth shook, the ground buckled, buildings crumbled into dust. Oh, and 98% of the people who you saw in the original version of Skate were either evacuated or buried alive under tons of rubble. And everyone who’s left is uglier and jaggier. Hey, disasters take their toll on the survivors as well, right? Well, at least you’ve got some newly revamped levels to grind, ollie and kickflip your skateboarding way through.
That is, assuming you don’t take the bait and try the new balance board controls. We love the idea, yes. But leaning around on the board to pull off tricks just isn’t that accurate. Stick to the remote/nunchuk combination if you want decent responsiveness. Pressing A moves you forward, flicking in different directions pulls the tricks, and the analog stick handles steering. This works most of the time, though we still found the remote less accurate than we’d have liked at interpreting our commands.
Skate It plays well, with a very open style – the numerous mission goals are very general, which gives you lots of freedom to solve them however you wish – and a more organic feel than games that rely upon complex button sequences. And though we do appreciate the earthquake-modified levels, the best part is that there are small areas in each level that you’re able to customize yourself. Yes, it’s basically just a level editor, and those have been around for years. But we like choosing where to put our ramps and rails, and keeping it tucked inside the main game’s levels makes it feel more legitimate.
Multiplayer modes are where Skate It stumbles somewhat. For example, requiring the players to all pass around the same controller is silly – why can’t each player have their own? And where’s the online support? These are examples of Skate It’s biggest overall problem: we’ve already played the full-featured version of Skate on Xbox 360 back in 2007, so there’s no way for this not to feel stripped-down. This is about as solid a next-gen port as we’ve seen on Wii, but it’s probably going to take an act of God to make us think a downscaled port is better than the original. Other than an earthquake, we mean.
Nov 24, 2008