It’s better than Ride. It is. But that’s like saying having your left arm amputated is better than your right arm. You’re still going to have a miserable time.
Art design is actually pretty good. Tony Hawk Ride had a really weird aesthetic where everything was blown out and blurry to make it look like a cartoon. It was all framed in a phone and the menus were absolutely terrible. It’s gotten a lot better this time around. The graphics and style and effects really aren’t too bad. In screenshots and trailers, you might be forgiven for thinking this game is decent.
And in general, the controls are a tiny bit better. I put the controls in casual plus mode though, which means that I’m stuck to a track, but I can have some limited steering within that path. That makes it slightly less frustrating. But only slightly. It still doesn’t work very well. Even just steering to get through the menus is hard. You’ll turn to switch to the next option, and it won’t go, won’t go, won’t go, then suddenly does two. Fantastic. Thanks for testing this Robomodo.
Let me give you a quick refresher of how this controller works. It can sense tilt for turning, pop for ollies and nollies. It has sensors on the sides and tail to sense pushes and grabs… or just random stuff that isn’t there.
Luckily this game is at least more stable than the last one.
One of the big problems I had was getting de-synched from the character on the screen. I wasn’t able to film myself playing this time because it’s summer and it’s absurdly hot in my un air conditioned basement, so I was playing without pants on with a fan blowing on me. Nobody wants to see that. But it’s very common that you’ll eventually end up facing sideways so that your character can stay straight. Or, you’ll just be facing the wrong way. Sometimes you’ll turn, but your character will bounce off of something and stay straight. It doesn’t make up for that. So your character is riding regular and you’re in fakie. You switch around to regular and your character switches to fakie. But the menus still work normally. All you can do is spin just a little bit on every jump and ever so slowly realign to being forward. Or you can try to run into something and make your character bounce off of it on purpose. It’s really stupid. Sometimes I just played in fakie for a while because it’s too much effort to fix it, but then your steering is backward. Or it’s asking too specific of stuff to do.
Like in this challenge. It give you specific tricks you have to do. I keep pivoting in this manual here. Of course, I’m just standing regular and not doing any pivots at all. But I have to 180, and then do a nollie right after. How’s that even possible? Wait, what’s a switch fakie over crooked?
The other incredibly annoying thing is the constant, non-stop grabs. I’m playing it in my tiny office and I think it’s picking up my desk or the wall a lot. But it also picks up your foot on the tail. I play with my foot on the tip of the tail because that’s how you skate, but you can’t do that or you’ll do tailgrabs on every grab. If you’re just randomly doing tricks and going for a score, you’ll be okay. But on half of the modes, you’re screwed. Just have a better house than me and you’ll be cool.
By the way, this also accounts for me constantly mongoing and doing fingerflips when I’m in a manual.
Let’s take a look at the different gameplay modes. The first is just a high score run. You skate through the level and do tricks. There are multiplier things you can pick up. Generally, this is pretty easy because manuals are essentially free. Yes, you have to balance on the board, but it’s really forgiving. In fact, sometimes you’ll be manualling in the game even when you’re standing flat on the controller.
There is a major downside to that though. If you do one long combo, then you’re at risk of bailing once and losing your entire score run. And that’s exactly what will happen. Even on the cheater mode, you’ll still run into stuff or just miss jumps. Here’s an extremely terrible example.
This level is toward the end of the game. It starts with a long train track section, and it’s terrible. The controller just isn’t responsive enough to handle this. Very often, you’ll just miss jumps. Somehow, you can ollie and do tricks in the air, but it didn’t register as an ollie, so you miss the jump. Most of the time, it kicks you back to the beginning of the game. Eventually you’ll get far enough to reset later, but your score will be zero because the whole level is one combo.
But this level is the worst. You have to jump back and forth from track to track. Sometimes your board is backward so you have to think about it and lean the opposite ways. Sometimes there are barriers or dead ends that you don’t know about before you get there, and then there’s the impossible jump.
It doesn’t look that hard. It must be doable. Your speed will always be the same because it’s just grinds. You don’t have the chance to push at all. But the issue is that you have to ollie right at the very tip of this rail. But what EXACTLY constitutes an ollie? How far up does the nose have to be before it counts? Is it how fast you pop? What if you’re in a manual or 5-0 and you’re already halfway there?
When you have to ollie within a tenth of a second of reaching the end, this stuff is important, because you have to do it perfectly. After running out of time a couple times and almost giving up, I unfortunately got the hang of it and had to play the rest of the level.
The design is honestly not bad and I don’t hate it. That was a hard thing for me to admit. It still sucks though. You can ollie off of stuff and just run into the ceiling. But it’s a cool concept. It feels like a Mario Kart level, floating through space. But you’ll have a bunch of these really hard rail gaps that you can’t really get through. This level is hard. But this ending part is kind of cool. When you beat a level, sometimes you’re treated to a little video of one of the pro skaters.
“I couldn’t have done better myself… maybe a little bit”
Well that’s just rude. These things are so cringeworthy. It goes past being so bad it’s good to just being plain bad.
“What to do when a player is too awesome for words…”
What? I didn’t skip that, that’s just how it is. I think that was intended to be a joke, but it’s hard to tell.
Anyway, the high score stuff is standard Tony Hawk stuff, and it works fine. The score isn’t so high that you’ll get overly frustrated by it. I mean, you will, but it’s beatable. Unlike my crippling depression.
I hope you like it though, because you’re going to do the same thing in a couple of different ways.
The second variation of this is a score, but you’re counting time, not points. But like, I think you get bonuses for doing tricks, so it’s kind of the same thing? Basically, you skate through the level and pick up time bonuses instead of trick multipliers. I think this is technically a race, but that would be incredibly boring, so you’re going to entertain yourself by doing tricks as you go. Which makes it feel identical to the high score mode.
Okay, the next mode is high scores, but in limited areas of the level instead of the whole thing. You then get a total high score for the level at the end, just in pieces. Believe it or not, I don’t hate this. This might be the best part of the game. Not having to do the whole level at once makes it less tragic when you bail and lose your combo, because the level isn’t as long. You can restart and just do the section you need to improve, and you even get to skate in areas of the level that you might not have gotten to in the other runs. So it’s mostly a positive thing.
It also gives you bonus points for certain tricks. So, nosegrind for 100 feet, manual a certain distance, spin a certain number of degrees… that sort of thing. That just makes it mildly more interesting. Normally I do manuals, 5-0s, tailslides, salads and other tail stuff. I pretty much never nollie and do nose stuff because I’m lazy. But this actually makes me. It’s not a bad play mode.
It can, of course, get very confusing though. The score you’re looking for is the total overall score of the level, not the specific areas. But you’ll be looking at a single area where you can barely squeeze by 30,000, and it’ll say 350,000 in the corner. Sometimes when you finish an area, it’ll show you the screen with your totals on it. Sometimes it’ll restart you, as if you failed. I have no idea why. I did this specific spot over and over and over, constantly getting higher scores. Did I not get high enough to upgrade my old overall score, or something? I honestly don’t know. I played this game back when it came out, so I have some high scores from back in the day. Maybe that’s interfering somehow.
Okay, the last session type, not counting free ride, is the challenge mode. This is the best and also worst one. In theory, it’s the best. They give you a specific line or spot, and specific tricks to do at it. It’s almost like real skateboarding. Do a kickflip 5-0 on this rail. Ollie manual this box. Stuff like that. It could be great. The problem, of course, is that nothing ever works and it’s terrible and I hate it and wish I was dead.
Here’s an example. I have to do a flip trick to a 5-0, then flip trick to manual. Then on this rail, I have to do a 5-0, pivot around to a slide trick, then pivot back to a 5-0. After that, I have to do a 180 out of the building. Looks easy right? Well this was my 10,487th attempt.
Do you think a double heelflip would count as a flip trick for the first part? Well, it didn’t this time. I ollied in the right spot and everything.
The flip trick to manual isn’t too hard, except that flip tricks don’t work very often because of course they don’t.
The 5-0 to slide to 5-0 should be easy, shouldn’t it? I just hold the manual I was already doing, then pivot sideways, then pivot back. No big deal. Except that you get desynched a lot, by just a little bit. A lot of the time, you’ll end up pivoting back to a salad, and not a 5-0, even though my controller is back to being perfectly straight. The rail isn’t long enough to stop and see what it’s counting the grind as, and then adjust from there.
Last is a 180. The game goes into slow mo, so you have plenty of time to spin around while your character is in the air. But look at this. I start forward, spin around, land fakie. Is that not a 180? Nope, apparently not because it didn’t count.
Of course, I spun back around to normal when I reset and I saw that my character was facing normal, but then she spun around because she was still in fakie from the landing from my non 180 that never happened. So now we were out of sync again. Come on!
Just imagine every one of these challenges having issues like that. Here’s another example.
I have to grind up this rail, ollie to the next one and the next one over and over and then clear over to this thing, then ollie up and grind on the building. The problem is that I don’t have nearly enough speed. I don’t have enough time to push up to full speed before I start grinding uphill and slowing down. I can’t push up the ramp and grind the rail only at the top because I’ll just crash into the rail, since I’m on a fixed path with limited steering.
What do you do? Keep trying it over and over until you get lucky. Did they test this? Obviously not.
To be fair, this is a lot better than Ride. Ride is basically unplayable. There are a lot of different modes that just make you want to keel over and die. This one is just frustrating, but it mostly works. They also added something all new.
They actually added in snowboarding. Why did they do that? Shouldn’t they have used all the time it took to design and animate this part and just spend it on making the skateboarding better? Yes, of course. They chose to go another route though.
So how does this work? Tilting the board around makes you do flips. Spinning is done by rotating a little bit. So like, rotate to 20 degrees and just stay there and your character will keep spinning. That just means you instantly get desynched and you’ll get confused a lot. It works in grinds though. It’s just like the skateboarding, but with much much fewer tricks, and worse gameplay. And more people who must be pro snowboarders, I guess.
If you see this game at a garage sale for a dollar, it might be worth it. But only if you really really like suffering.