What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a skateboarding game which does depict some mild violence, such as falling off a bench or rail and landing on the cement. Players can get bruised, sprained, or break bones, but nothing graphic is shown (and no blood as is shown in the Tony Hawk games). The game only allows you to be a male skateboarding, with no females options.
What's it about?
Last year, Electronic Arts' (EA) Skate took on Activision's popular Tony Hawk skateboarding series by offering a more realistic approach to the urban sport; and they succeeded in providing a fun yet authentic experience for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners. Now, EA is back with SKATE IT, a Nintendo exclusive with unique controls for the different platforms. Specifically, the Nintendo Wii version of the game allows players to control the action with the wireless and motion-sensing Wii Remote (with or without the nunchuk) or by balancing on the Wii Balance Board peripheral, which shipped with the popular Wii Fit game (and looks like a bathroom scale). The portable Nintendo DS version lets players perform moves using the stylus pen and touch-screen display. In both, gamers are brought back to the fictitious streets of San Vanelona to explore the deserted city on skateboard. By pulling off sick tricks, players earn the opportunity to travel the world and become Thrasher Magazine's Skater of the Year.
Adding to the game's replayability are a few multiplayer challenges on the same TV (including a "Best Trick" competition) and the option to create your own skate park by dragging and dropping objects such as ramps and rails wherever you like. Last year's version focused on what EA called "Flickit" control, where players used the controller's two analog sticks to pull off moves (rather than rely on the four main buttons), such as pulling back and pushing up on the left analog stick to pull an "ollie." A similar "Flickit" control scheme is back on the Wii, by moving the wireless controllers around (the tutorial is quite good, but follow it through) -- but you can also stand on the Wii Balance Board if you own one and move your body to "skate" on the board; it takes some getting used to but if you're somewhat coordinated and are willing to ride out the steep learning curve, this hand and foot control method is handled quite well for the most part (the board isn't always as responsive as it should be, however).
Is it any good?
While we love the rags-to-riches story and varied locations. the game does have a few issues, such as the feeling of isolation (in every city you unlock, which just feels weird), the lack of online multiplayer and some muddy visuals -- but those who grew up playing Tony Hawk games shouldn't be disappointed with this ambitious title. The three control schemes, many environments, and challenging career mode offer enough meat to satiate finicky gamers.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how video games can provide a virtual thrill for sports you might not want to try in real life, such as snowboarding, skateboarding, and other, more dangerous "extreme" sports. These games offer a sense of speed, and with products like the Wii Balance Board, make you feel like you're controlling the action -- but you're in the safe confines of your family room. Parents might also want to remind children that because they can do a trick in a game, doesn't mean it is safe to try in real life.