Reviewed: December 11, 2008
Released: October 20, 2008
Since the Wiiís launch the ride has been one full of ups and downs. After an incredible launch the sales only soared with more incredible first party titles. It has been two holiday seasons since then and unfortunately now its lineup of games is one of the bleakest on the market. With little interesting first party support and a pandering to a simpler game style, the system is starting to lose moment in some peopleís minds. Nintendo though may be starting to see a new renaissance for their system through third party developers.
Wii Fit was released with a balance board earlier in the year and is once again an item with more demand than supply. However the balance board accessory that came with the game is attracting lots of attention from developers. EA has attempted to tackle the new peripheral by integrating its hit Skate with the controls in a new title called Skate It.
The game attempts to tell a story, which seems a little odd. Tony Hawk has never needed a reason to be grinding around the city and landing 900 spins but the developers felt it necessary. Evidently a natural disaster has overtaken a generic city and everyone has evacuated the wasteland. This turns it into a giant skate park with no one to bump into. A cameraman wandering around the wastes spots a skateboarder and from then on its nothing but skate.
Skate It has a simple premise in contrast to other titles that involved skateboarding. Instead of stringing together disgusting amounts of tricks together and landing massive high scores, the game focuses on small strings of tricks that are much more realistic. This may take a little getting used to at first but it is very intuitive. Landing grinds, flip tricks, spins, and manuals all works in a fluid way and is a refreshing pace for the title.
All of this is just builds off of the gameís innovative control scheme. The Wii Balance Board is used much like a real skateboard with both feet perpendicular to the TV. It supports left and right sided skaters. Leaning forward and backward will execute turns and putting more pressure on the front or back foot will cause you to do a manual.
The system truly shines though with the jump tricks. Rapidly shifting your weight on the board causes your character to jump on the screen. The position you shift your feet to causes the skater in the game to perform different tricks. The whole interface is intuitive even to people who never tried to skateboard and is sublime for controlling after a short learning curve.
The Wiimote is used to perform grabs and switching trick styles but other than that is is largely unused. If you do not have a balance board the game takes over with either standard controls with the Wiimote but it is nowhere near the same experience. The balance board truly steals the show for this title.
The Wii has never held a title as a graphical masterpiece but Skate It does an ample job of using the systemís resources. The characters have a decent look to them and customization gives you a bit of personal touch for the game. The cityscape is convincing enough and itís not hard to tell what can and canít be used for tricks and stunts.
The sound is good for a skating game. The soundtrack is predictable and follows itís forebearís style. The missed tricks and falls all have their own crunching and snapping noises. Most of the audio comes from the commentator following you and while his voice alone isnít overly annoying it may wear thin after a whole game of it.
The single player experience is limited on the game with a series of unlockable for your character customization and new tracks. The Wii version lacks the recording feature of the earlier releases on the PS3 and 360. The multiplayer is robust enough to keep friends occupied but with only one balance board supported it can be a bit of a drag. This is all negligible next to the gameplay though. Many hours can be spent just getting the hang of the board and there is still disbelief that the game feels this good with just a new type of controller.
The Wii has lacked good 3rd party support since before it was released. But one of the most innovative and fun Wii games to come out this year was released by EA. If you have a balance board for your system you owe it to yourself to get Skate It. The game is spot on and offers most of the thrills of nailing tricks and grinding rails without banging your knees up on the pavement.