By: Joe Rolfe
I’m puzzled to
see what Konami was thinking in releasing this game. Of all genres,
Konami decided to go head-to-head with Activision and release a
skateboarding game on the Game Boy Advance, already dominated by the
Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. While in this reviewer’s mind it is
entirely possible to dethrone a king of a certain genre, when it
comes to THSP2, there’s a 99% it ain’t happening. ESPN
X-Games Skateboarding proves why.
First of all,
let’s get the good stuff out of the way. The game has 10 pro
skaters including Bob Burnquist and Colin McKay and a handful of
different parks and vert ramps to contend in. X-Games Skateboarding
headlines a delightful vert mode in which a player has 45 seconds to
pull off as many moves as possible. With over 40 tricks and some
slick animation, X-Games performs a job well done in replicating the
halfpipe experience of sailing up and down both sides of the ramps.
There are several different arenas to skate in and win attribute
points, so the Vert mode can suddenly become an engaging playtime.
Had Konami centered the game around this part and deepened it a bit
more, X-Games would have been the perfect alternative to Tony Hawk,
but this leads us to the bad parts…
the actual skatepark mode. More of an afterthought than a real
direction for the game, X-Games Skateboarding is just plain
embarrassing when it actually does try to mimic THPS2’s most
beautiful aspect. In skateboarding games, you basically need
impeccable controls for a game to play well, but Konami failed at
landing this for the park section. The problem doesn’t lie within
the actual physical buttons, but that the street competition’s
view is just a mess. When skating on the ground or up small
inclines, the game uses an overhead camera angle, but after going up
a ramp or jumping over a gap, the game switches to a side view, ala
the Vert perspective. What's confusing is that there’s a
one-second pause in between camera changes, so any consistency or
rhythm is non-existent. Had there been a seamless transition in
between, I could have choked down the street mode more easily, but
regardless the need for multiple, delayed camera angles is stupidity
on Konami’s part.
aurally, X-Games Skateboarding is average for a GBA game. Skater
models animate fluidly and the parks, though fairly plain, have
enough detail to please the eyes. But sadly, there is a lack of any
real music for the game. Some voices and skating sound effects make
it into the game, but some subtle beats or rock scores in the
background could have made quite a difference.
Skateboarding does nothing to make someone want to put down Tony
Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and rush out to buy this. Although half
the game, the Vert Competition, has a lot of good parts to it,
Konami just plain whiffed on the street mode. I hope that with this
game Konami realizes that no one wants to buy a game in which only
half the game was really worked on.
- Good vert
- Skate park
- No music.
If you have a
friend that bought ESPN X-Games Skateboarding, borrow it from
him/her and enjoy the vert session for a few hours. But when you’re
done with that, just go back to Tony Hawk’s game. It’s still
light years ahead of this one.