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ESPN X-Games Skateboarding

Review By:  Joe Rolfe

Developer:  Konami
Publisher:  Konami
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Extreme Sports
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  11-6-01

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 near-perfect Tony 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…

…that being 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.

Visually and 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.

ESPN X-Games 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.

Highs:

  • Good vert mode
  • Above-average animation

Lows:

  • Skate park mode.
  • No music.

Final Verdict:

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.

Overall Score: 6.1

 



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