Today we’re talking about 2Xtreme, which came out in 1996, and was developed and published by Sony. A lot of people have asked me to talk about this game. It seems like a lot of people have great memories of playing it when they were a kid. It was the first skateboarding game for a lot of people; myself included. It was one of the first games I ever had on the Playstation. But the series was always so confusing to me, because there was 2Xtreme, and then later 1Xtreme came out, and then 3Xtreme came out. The thing is, with the original game, there was actually a game called ESPN Extreme Games. It was an XGames licensed game. They lost the license and re-released it as 1Xtreme. In the meantime, 2Xtreme came out. It was a little confusing at the time. But, I didn’t know what to expect going into this one. I had it as a kid and I liked it, but did I like it just because it was new? It was on the Playstation, and I was going this way, into the TV as I played? Or was it actually good? I looked up some reviews of it, and there are some really, really positive ones, and some terrible ones. Seems like it was really positive back in the day, but when they re-released it as a PSN classic, then all the negative ones started to come out. So i wasn’t really sure what to expect going into it, but I’m looking forward to re-living some nostalgia from 20+ years ago. So let’s get into the game.
The first thing you notice when you put the game in is this super XTREME intro. It’s got a dude doing a varial mctwist on a mountain, and some other tricks on bikes and rollerblades and everything. It sets the stage for a Tony Hawk, or at least Street Sk8er type of experience, where you actually do tricks. Spoiler – you don’t. Not really, at least.
Next you get to the worst menu system in the world. After you drop into a ramp that you don’t get to skate anywhere in the game, you get to this screen. There’s almost no real 3D in this game, but they wanted to show off the 32-BIT POWER of the Playstation with this floating text. I stumbled around this for the longest time. Some of these things just scroll to the side, and some open up their own screen.
This is the character select screen. First thing you’ll see is their digitized 3D model. Everyone in the game is a flat 2D sprite, but they made them in 3d, then took screenshots and cut them out. Yeah, the playstation was still pretty new, but this was made by Sony. You think they’d know you can do actual 3D on the system. You’ll see their attributes, with their muscle and endurance and stuff like that. You’ll be punching and kicking a lot of people, so keep that in mind. You can basically ignore their trick skill though. These different characters have different abilities on skateboards and bikes and stuff, so you can pick the character that gives you help where you need it. Considering that a bike on dirt feels just like a snowboard on snow and just like a skateboard on pavement, then it doesn’t really do you any good. Just pick someone average. And don’t worry, they’re all goofy. Is this the first first case of regular stance racism in a video game? But you’ll quickly find that you can’t actually select anyone. The select option is grayed out. Why?
It’s because you leave them highlighted and then just cancel out of the screen. What? Is this the first video game ever made?
I backed out, hit some other buttons, and next thing you know, I’m playing an exhibition on regular difficulty. And I’ll tell you, this game beat the crap out of me. I consistently got last place over and over. Here’s how you play. X will push, or pedal, or whatever. You basically only do that uphill. If you push on flat, it slows you down. And you can only push when you have endurance, illustrated by this heartbeat down here.
Circle will crouch and build speed. Square jumps. Think about that for a second. You’re riding around holding circle, then an obstacle suddenly pops up, and you have to jump over to square to ollie it. You’ll end up holding your controller in a really awkward position to be able to hit circle and square at the same time. The shoulder buttons handle punches and powerups.
Basically you’re just going to be holding down circle and trying not to hit stuff. Just look at this. There are shoppers all over the place, and tires and barrels and all kinds of stuff. You’ll get into impossible situations all the time. And when you hit something, you’ll get stuck behind it and you have to try to shimmy over to get past it before you start again.
Music: “Shimmy shimmy yay, shimmy yay, shimmy ya”
Yeah the computer players hit stuff too, but this puts you WAY behind. Why couldn’t it restart you in front of the obstacle after a second?
Another thing I have to point out is the steering system. It’s really hard to explain. Basically, if you don’t turn at all, you’ll follow the curve of the course a little bit. But not all the way. Right here, I’m not hitting anything. It turns for you a little, but you have to turn a little too. You have to work together with the computer to get yourself around the course. It doesn’t feel like a racing game at all. Being that the entire game is about dodging stuff and going through gates, not having any idea where to line yourself up makes it almost impossible. You’ll get the hang of it eventually, but you’ll never be confident in your turns, because it’s not natural.
There are also these ramps out there that launch you up into the air. Avoid them. You can’t really steer in the air, and sometimes the ramps are put in places that send you right into obstacles. Either avoid them or ollie over them if you can.
Yeah, you can do tricks. Technically. But I can’t tell you how. Here’s the control screen. Do you see tricks anywhere? Me neither. If it didn’t give me a zero for my trick score every level, I would have thought it was impossible. Much later in the game, I noticed a dude doing a trick on a bike. Later, I just so happened to do one too. I swear I hit circle in the air, but it never worked again. I might have done one on a skateboard, but I can’t really tell. It looks kind of like I’m just crouching for a turn in the air.
I kept getting destroyed in regular difficulty, so I turned it down, and then stumbled on to the new season mode. What is a season? What’s the goal? What do you get? Can I save my game? Who knows. You’re just thrown into it with zero instruction.
On this easier mode, I did alright. Your max speed is lower, which really helps. The sense of speed in this game is actually really good. You feel like you’re flying down these courses. But it makes it really hard because everything is so blocky. You don’t really know what something is until you’re about to hit it.
There are gates scattered throughout the level. You can go through them, but you’re pretty likely to bounce off of it too if you’re not dead on. Or, maybe you were dead on, but the camera moved a little and took you with it. You don’t always fall though. I think your endurance stat changes the probability of falling when you hit stuff. When I first started, I tried to get as many as I could, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. Do I need points to unlock stuff? Does it give me a time boost at the end or something? I don’t know.
Some gates that you’ll want to hit though, are the power ups. First is the health. It makes you less likely to get knocked over, which is helpful. It really sucks getting punched and falling over. If it happens late enough in a level, you can completely fail the course, since your recovery time is so slow.
Next is the ‘let’s rumble’ dumbbell powerup, which makes you more likely to knock the other guys over. It helps. But honestly, it’s better to avoid everyone else so they don’t knock you over first.
There’s also a speed boost, which is the most helpful. You don’t notice a big difference, but it’s gotta be doing something.
You can’t forget the spring, either. It helps you jump, but jumping is probably the last thing you should ever do, so I usually ignore this one.
These levels were designed by the devil. They were supposed to be every event in the real x games, but they do their best to injure or kill you. You’re going 60 miles an hour, and they have these moving walls that you can run into, and the tires, and all the trees, power poles, signs, fire hydrants, and everything else. I would rather have had a more difficult course design with less crap in it. But the obstacles aren’t even that bad, it’s just that the terrible controls make it a lot worse.
So you get to the end, and you’re given the option to save your high score. Not your career, just your scores. I didn’t figure out how to save my game for a long time. You actually have to change the mode from ‘season’ over to ‘save season.’ Come on! Why? After that, you can hit play to keep going. There are 12 levels, and you just cycle through them. I’ll show you all the different places.
This is Las Vegas, where you ride roller blades. Unless your character’s stats are really lopsided, it plays exactly the same, but with different animations. Like this air time one! That looks so stupid! Maybe that passes for a trick in rollerblading. The “man are my arms tired air?” I don’t know.
Play through a couple of these levels, and you end up riding a bike in Africa, where you dodge rocks and elephants and stuff. Something I noticed here is the weird red fringe around the character. It’s almost like they rendered it out with a red background and then tried to remove it like a greenscreen. I have no idea why they would do that, but it looks even worse than normal.
Anyway, it plays the same, down to the top speed and everything. There are some branching paths in these that can trick you though. It can take a while to get a decent place on these races. Not that I know if that matters or not…
Next up is snowboarding in Japan. The level design is slightly bumpier, but it’s more of the same. It’s a little harder to see things because it’s all just a blurry mess of gray [13:33]. At this point, I was started to get used to being able to hit circle and square at the same time, so I was doing pretty good. Still took me a few tries though.
Each of these levels has 3 different courses. They are basically identical, but maybe slightly shuffled around here and there to keep you guessing.
I kept on playing and playing, and I ended up skateboarding again. I beat this level… and it was over. Somehow, despite not knowing how tricks work, I got 50 points for tricks this time. Anyway, you get this screen! Looks like a mix of Wordart and photoshop 1.0. Look at that lens flare. I won the season, but I don’t really know how. I had some first and second place finishes, but I also had a 6th place, and a 4th.. Most games will show you a running total of how your finishes are weighted and scored, but this didn’t. What would happen if I went through and just lost every race? Would I still win? I don’t know.
But look! They show me how to do tricks. And it takes 4 button presses! That takes a long time, so you can only really try this with a ton of air. It says they’re ‘new’ tricks, so I guess I have some already, but who knows what cryptic combos those would be.
Let’s give this trick a try. It took me 7 airs to finally get it to do anything, although I did get a couple of cheers for stuff along the way. I guess this weird twitching around is actually a trick too? I don’t know. So here comes my special move. Probably a tre flip mute or something, right?
I guess it’s a 360? But I wouldn’t blame you for not being able to tell. He squawks like a bird when he does it. Seriously, listen.
A couple of months ago, in an Ask Rad Rat video, I calculated that there are about 5000 base skateboard tricks. Being only goofy and not having grinds, that’s still a few hundred different tricks to pick from. And they go with the 360 bird squawker. I did about 8 tricks this run, and I got 1000 extra points. What does that do for me? Nothing. In other games, you might earn some boost or something, but nope. You just get the pleasure of seeing the 360 suburban bird.
And you get points of course. In another weird twist, the top scores for the courses are actually in points, not time. So you could get 3rd, but hit all the gates and do tricks on every jump, and you can still get the top score. Not that you’d ever need to. High scores make sense in arcades and online, but here? Nobody cares.
So that’s 2Xtreme, a game that a lot of you guys have asked me to play. I don’t know why you do these things to me. That game was not very good. I’m sure it was great back in the day, at least it was from what I remember, but it does not hold up. There’s not much of a reason to play it anymore. Except for nostalgia, maybe. But it does have some value, because I think it probably inspired Street Sk8er, which you can watch a review of here. And it also inspired Tony Hawk through Street Sk8er. And the Tony Hawk series might have inspired your favorite younger pro right now. So it does have some kind of value, from a historical type of perspective. But if you want to buy it and put it on your shelf, that’s one thing, but don’t bother playing it.