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The Worst Game I’ve Ever Played: Skateboard Madness: “Xtreme Edition”

Today we’re playing Skateboard Madness: “Xtreme Edition.” “Xtreme edition” in quotes. Is there a regular edition? No. This game only came out in Europe, thankfully. This still probably did plenty of damage there and ruined skateboarding for plenty of people. This may truly be the worst game I’ve ever played. And that’s saying a lot for me.

What else can we learn from the cover? Well, they used a stock image of a stinkbug indy. Probably from one of the developer’s 14 year old kids. You can’t even do indy grabs in the game. This is what the back cover says: 

“Ever dreamed of travelling the globe’s skateboarding events? Can you pull of the most amazing and dare-devil tricks?”

This thing just screams quality. It was made by a company called Phoenix Games Group. They were a budget publishing house that was only in business for a few years, from 2003 to 2009. They specialized in getting ripoff and trash games to market as quickly as possible. Check this out from their website.

“We boast the shortest time required from development to product release in the industry. Ordinarily the average development period for a game is 18 months, whereas Phoenix need a mere 3-5 months.”

“Such as 24 stores, Newsagents, Garage Shops etc. marketing the ranges through these diverse outlets means they will get high exposure and this will result in high sales levels. Although the ranges will be sold at low retail prices, they will not be short on quality.”

OK, so their whole thing was making terrible games as quickly as possible, and selling them at convenience stores and stuff. But it won’t be short on quality, apparently.

When did this come out? It was on PS2, but it looks like PS1 game. I was thinking probably 2001 or 2002, which means that we can compare this to Tony Hawk 3 or 4. But no. It’s hard to read this on the cover, but this came out in 2007! That’s when Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground came out on the PS3. A year before Skate 1 came out.

When I first fired the game up, I was pretty sure it didn’t work. I’m playing this on an emulator because the game is PAL only and it wouldn’t run on my system. But it doesn’t seem like you can do anything. If you skate around and do left or right and square, he does… this. It’s kind of a heelflip, I guess. If you want to call it that. You can’t bail it, but it also doesn’t give you any points. There are no grabs, and you can’t spin on street. Sometimes you randomly spin on vert, but you have almost no control and you’ll almost certainly bail. If you do a grind, with circle, it just says ‘slide,’ and it sounds like this.

So clearly, this game just isn’t playing right. Or is it? I looked up more gameplay of the game on Youtube, and that’s the experience other people are having too. I tried to find the manual online to see if there are more tricks, and I found one page, but only in Spanish.

But, yeah, it looks like it was running correctly. There’s one grind, which is what this is explaining. There are kickflips and heelflips, and then 7 grabs. That only work en rampa. But it’s got all the classics. Sky walk, back grab, foot throw. And then nose grabs and crossbones, which are the same, except you can’t hold a nosegrab for whatever reason.

So the game is running as designed, it was just designed broken. We’ll talk about the tricks more in a minute, but there are a couple of other modes we have to look at first. This is the street race mode.

Yeah, there’s no sound when you start. No countdown, and no rolling sound even, for a minute. Eventually that will start. I don’t know if it loads slower than the level, or if it just needs to wait for something to trigger it…? I have no clue. 

So you’ve got to skate around the level and collect arrows in order. That’s it. It shows you where the next one is, which is nice. They could have just left you to look around for it blindly. But the controls here are really hard to explain. First of all, your ollie is pathetic. You get an inch off the ground unless you hold x down for a while. And that’s fairly normal I guess, but it doesn’t work normally. If you’re crouched and you hit something, you’ll stop crouching. So you’re holding the button down, ready to release and get a big ollie, but it doesn’t do anything because your character isn’t crouching. So that’s helpful.

Wait, is he mongoing? Actually, I don’t think so. It just looks terrible. By the way, when you bail, you lose control for a second or so before you’re allowed to move again.

In the first level, the race was super easy. I finished it with a minute left. And this, despite never being able to actually land a vert air. Sometimes you just start spinning. I never figured out exactly how this works. It seems related to the angle you left the coping at. You don’t actually cover distance in the air. If you approach at an angle, you’ll just be launched straight up, but you’ll spin. Holding left or right can speed up or slow down your spin, but it’s very touchy and weird. If you start spinning, it’s just pure luck if you roll away.

Being able to cover distance would make it easier to collect stuff, and it took a while to get used to just doing perfectly straight airs. It’s a lot harder to aim that way. You have to land perfectly straight on airs. When you first start playing, you’ll bail so often that you might think vert is broken. But eventually you’ll get used to lining yourself up perfectly straight, and you’ll be okay most of the time.

But I did run into a problem that I’ll be having throughout the game. The route it wants you to take is sometimes impossible. There is a double set in the first level that you can’t easily get up. Thankfully, you can ollie each set in this level. It’s just awkward, not impossible. But we’ll get to impossible.

This is the second level. At first glance, it’s not bad. It looks a little different from the last one. There are a lot of ramps and stuff around that might potentially be fun in high score mode (spoiler: they’re not), but once you get down to business, you realize how screwed you are. This is the hardest stage in the whole game. But I think it’s on accident.

Is this some kind of radioactive goo that will turn me into a Ninja Turtle if I fall in? I actually avoided it for a while before I realized it was just grass.

Anyway, there’s a big stairset around the level, and the path for all the arrows takes you up and down them over and over. The problem is that you can’t get up the stairs in any easy way. You can’t ollie high enough to clear them. You would, of course, think that you can grind up the handrails. That’s what you would do in Tony Hawk, or in recent years, you might even do it in real life. But these aren’t grindable. At all. You can’t grind up the rail in the first level either. Later, I tried to grind DOWN the rail, and that didn’t work either. I think they just forgot to turn these on as grindable objects. But the level is clearly designed for you to do that. So what do you do? You can ride all the way around the level to find a ramp, then ride over to collect the arrow. That works, but you have to do it so many times during the route that you’ll definitely run out of time. I was pretty stumped on this one for a while. You can’t grind the stairs and transfer up a step at a time. You can’t ollie out of a grind at an angle at all. So what did I do? I couldn’t let the game defeat me here. 

So I started over. Of course it starts you facing the wrong way because it hates you, so I turned around… and this happened. 

The camera is flipped. Hitting vert will straighten you out for a while. But it kept happening until I restarted the game. This game legitimately made me feel sick. I’m not sure what it was. I have trouble with some first person games, but usually this type of game would be fine for motion sickness. Maybe I wanted to puke just because of realizing that my life lead me to a point where I play games like this.

Back to the stairs though. I figured out that ollieing at an angle will let me clear a couple and then I can turn into the next one and ollie a couple times and eventually work my way up. That’s harder than it sounds though. If you run out of space, you have to turn around carefully and not fall back down. It takes forever. But it’s still a lot less than riding all the way around the level and finding a ramp. After quite a few attempts, I got good enough at it to get through.

The third level is a business plaza area. It looks a little bit different from the other ones. And this level is huge. There are 3 different skateparks throughout this level. And it could be really tough to get all 53 of the arrows. Luckily, I’m amazing at this game now and I managed to get through this one first try.

The next level is a tiny skatepark, and you have a couple of minutes to get them all. I bailed a lot and I still got through this one first try. I think that second level should definitely have been the last one because it was 10 times harder than this. 

The final level is an indoor skatepark. This one actually took me two tried because I got lost and ended up running out of time. Again, this level doesn’t look terrible either. I could see trying to do some combos here, like grinding a handrail and landing on a box or something like that. But that’s not going to happen.

OK, the next mode is the Collecter mode. “Collecter” with an ‘e’. This game is European and I know that British people are spelling impaired, but I double checked, and yeah, this is still wrong there too. 

In this mode, you just collect floating skateboards. You don’t have to do it in order though. This mode is a lot harder. The first level actually gave me a lot of challenge. Coming up with your own route and executing it perfectly is kind of tough. Especially with the stairs in this level. They aren’t as bad as the second level, but the timing is super tight on this one. I had a lot of close calls. Sure, playing it feels terrible, but there was a tiny spike of excitement when I finally beat it. It almost felt like a video game for a minute.

The second level was hard too. The stairs are less of a problem because you don’t have to go up and down a bunch of times. Maybe only once or twice. But this level is huge, especially for a PS1 game, so it’s easy to get lost or miss something.

Wait, what?

Oh, right, this is a PS2 game. Nevermind. It’s garbage. Wait, why is there a pyramid in the middle of a bowl? Eh whatever. So this one is tough, but it only took a few tries. It’s just that every attempt is 4 minutes, and then a minute of loading. So you can be playing for a half hour and only get a few runs in.

Let’s move to the third level. This one is even bigger. But not in the way you want it to be. There are all these separate skateparks that are linked together by long paths. You’ll get to the second one within the time allotment pretty easily. But here’s what it takes to get to the last one.

You skate around to the entrance to the park. I tried to save some time by cutting through the grass. Whoops. There’s an invisible vert ramp there. I think the game counts any vertical surface as a ramp. There are times you’ll hit a curb and just fly through the air. Or, sometimes fly through the ground?

After that, you skate alllll the way up and around this path. By the way, this is in no way how you’re supposed to notate time. Is this a weird Euro thing? I don’t think so. It’s just wrong for no reason.

Then you go all the way down this other path to get to the last park. Thankfully you can grind up this handrail, unlike all of the other ones. Not sure what lead me to even try that. But after a few attempts, I managed to get through this one too.

Level 4 is basically impossible. You have exactly one minute. There is zero room for mistakes here. You have to hit every ramp perfectly, which is tough. There’s a bank that doesn’t send you up vertical, so you can slow down and turn in the air. That saves a fraction of a second. This quarter pipe over here can actually be aired out of if you ollie part way up. It’s really really hard, and you have to do it perfectly. But it helps if you can do it. Some of these on the rails are really tough to get too.

This one was brutal. I came really close on this one a bunch of times. Like here, where I was one off and it was on screen when I ran out of time. But I really wanted to beat this level because there’s only one more stage at the end. Whether I beat that one or not, I could at least show you every single event in the whole game. So I stuck to it for a while.

I got my route figured out, and I started getting really close, but when I —

What?! I have never gotten a system error on the PS2 before. Sure, this is an emulator, but look at this. The Skin6.bmp texture failed somehow. This isn’t an emulator error, this is from the PS2. Who knows if this happens on an actual system. It probably does though.

I almost took this as a good reason to stop playing, but I persevered because I crave pain and misery. After reloading, I got it in about 10 more minutes. By the way, there’s no restart option. You can only quit to the menu and sit through a loading screen. This could have taken half the time if I could have restarted when I made a mistake.

OK, on to the last level. This one was pretty easy. It only took one try. Isn’t that ridiculous? Level 4 is frame perfect in difficulty, but the final level has no challenge whatsoever.

Speaking of no challenge whatsoever, let’s look at the high score mode. This is incredibly pointless. The time limit is TEN MINUTES. And it doesn’t end when you reach the score, which you’ll do in a couple minutes. I beat the final level in a couple minutes and then just left the game running to make lunch while I waited to see what the ending screen would say. I’ll show that later.

But the actual trick scoring makes zero sense whatsoever. As I mentioned, you can do kick and heelflips on flat. But they don’t count. You don’t see a score come up… unless you do another trick later. So if you do a kickflip, and then a grind, it’ll count the kickflip then. What? It’s not a combo. It’s just broken. Oh, and the grind meter is a physical object in the world. So if you grind downhill, it’s actually off camera. That’s pretty cool. Thanks for that. The balance meter doesn’t get harder though. You could grind forever if there was a long enough ledge. You’ll randomly get kicked off at some point though.

OK, so how do you actually get points then? Vert. You have to do grabs, like the famous skywalk. Why not just say airwalk? The only excuse is if the developers looked up real names in some other language and then translated them to English. But that doesn’t explain the foot throw.

Points work like this. Do an air trick, and it counts for a set amount of points. It doesn’t matter if you hold the grab or not. And it doesn’t matter if you do one trick over and over and over. 

But the problem is that some tricks still won’t count, even on vert. But then, you might get them later, on the next air. Like it saves them up and then you get points in a burst. Except, if you bail after a missed air, then you’ll lose the tricks that it didn’t count yet. Maybe this is why they give you ten minutes. No matter how many airs you get zero points for, you’ll still have tons of time.

But the fact that only vert works is absolutely tragic. If they gave me 3 or 4 flip tricks, and a couple of grinds, there would be a reason for all these skateparks. You could grind stuff, like the handrails or hubbas. You could maybe grind a bench and flip over to the next bench. It wouldn’t be fun, but it would be a game. Really, just enable the grab tricks on street and it would be a lot better. 

But considering how easy this was, I had a lot of extra time to screw around. One thing I wanted to learn was if it was possible to land to fakie. If you do an air to fakie on vert, you just roll away regular. You can’t spin on street, but you can turn. What if you turn 180?

I tried this a bunch of times. You usually bail. You can’t do it over a hip and underrotate, you have to do it all the way and land straight. It’s not easy, but check this out. Boom, you teleport back to facing forward. And of course, it isn’t worth any points. But this is the kind of stuff you do when you have 6 or 7 minutes of gameplay to kill. I also discovered this ledge is only grindable part way for no good reason. It just stops acting like a grindable ledge. Cool.

So yeah, you’ll get through these easily. I finally beat the last level. What do I get? Does it congratulate me or give me a bonus level or cheat code or something?

Nah.

It says ‘New Level Unlocked. New High Score!! Level Completed’. This is what it says on every level. There’s no new level unlocked. But I didn’t know that until I paused the recording and looked close because it’s black text while the screen is fading to black. You’re just kicked out to the menu. Congratulations idiot. Thanks for your $20.

I don’t actually know how much this game cost. It’s hard to find any information on this game at all in fact. But it’s not free to press games and print labels and all that. I’d bet it was around $20. 

Should have known better. Here are some other games made by this company

  • Dalmatians 3 (Rip-off of 101 Dalmatians)
  • Paccie (Rip-off of Pac-Man)
  • Snow White and the 7 Clever Boys (Rip-off of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
  • Legend of Herkules (Rip-off of Hercules)
  • Mighty Mulan (Rip-off of Mulan)
  • Son of the Lion King (Rip-off of The Lion King)

So yeah. This game was designed to be a cheap cash grab. And I feel very bad for anybody who got this game as a kid. I can only picture someone who got this for Christmas and still doesn’t talk to his mom to this day.

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