Back in the 2000s, skateboarding and extreme sports were the big craze that was kickstarted by the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series. However, as time went on and more sequels and similar games were released, people were starting to get sick of the same old formula that was beginning to decrease in quality. Some people wanted realistic skateboarding, where something as simple as a kickflip, into a manual, and then into a grind was actually difficult.
That's where Skate came in.
Released in 2007, developed by Black Box Studios and published by EA, the game encouraged more down-to-earth skating. The Flick-It system, while simple on the surface, offered a lot of complexity as it mimics how real skaters would manipulate their board for tricks. It was a success that spawned multiple sequels and currently has a new game in development after several years of laying dormant.
However, this isn't the game I'm talking about right now. Nope, I'm going to talk about the spinoff that was released in between Skate and Skate 2: Skate It on the Nintendo DS.
The game is actually important in the Skate timeline. In the Wii version of Skate It, San Vanelona, the setting of the first Skate game, suffers an earthquake that destroys the city. While it does create some awesome spots, it causes many of the pros to leave for greener pastures in different countries, causing you to travel around and revive the city's skating scene. After raising enough money to rebuild a skate park, Mongo Corp comes in to transform the city into New San Vanelona and ban skateboarding, setting up the events of Skate 2. It's a pretty interesting story that actually affects a later entry. You get none of this in the DS version, though. The story is simply the standard rise to fame from a street skater all the way to a pro, and that's the version I played for this article.
The Flick-It system was modified to work for the DS touchpad, making you draw on a board on the bottom screen to do tricks which the default controls heavily rely on. Wanna do an Ollie? Flick straight up the board. Do a manual? Drag your stylus to the tip of the board and keep it there. Push and turn your skateboard? Tap on the sides and front. It's actually a pretty good system. While I disliked the default controls and orientation of the board on the bottom, it is able to perform the intended tricks 90% of the time, and if you don't feel comfortable with it, you can change it so that you can use buttons to move. I do recommend you don't play it for too long as doing tricks can really wear on the wrist if you're holding up your DS… or your 3DS, which I played on.
Onto the career mode. Your main goal here is to complete challenges and gain the sponsorships needed to unlock more locations. You'll start off in San Van, but eventually, you'll be able to go to France, Rio, and Barcelona for competitions and skate videos. That being said, the different locals in different countries don't look like they're from different countries. Most of them look like generic skate parks you could find anywhere, with only San Francisco and its steep hills being the most identifiable. They actually look more like the My Spot maps, where you can create your own skate parks… which is a given, considering there are challenges that can unlock an object for it.
Speaking of challenges, let's talk about that next. There are Jam sessions, Best Trick, Photo Ops, Filming challenges, Death Races, and the ever-infamous S.K.A.T.E. event, which is just as annoying in the main games as it is here. These events were actually pretty fun when they were open-ended, just giving you an area to get the most points in while fulfilling objectives. The amount of freedom you have in completing your objective makes the game really fun. However, it is really easy to bail as even the slightest touch of a staircase or a curb higher than your foot will lead to eating the pavement.
I need to mention the NPCs that skate around either in events or out in the level: they are the worst. They are made out of bricks or something and if you bump into them, you will be sent flying off your board. It's really annoying as it could interrupt a high score or destroy any chances of winning in certain event types while they remain unfettered and keep going. They will not mess up unless their A.I. tells them to mess up. They also cheat in Death Races since they can skip checkpoints.
The worst thing about the game, however, is that there are only four songs in the entire game: Collarbone by Fujiya & Miyagi, Ghost Town by The Specials, Death Or Glory by The Clash, and Possessed 2 Skate by Suicidal Tendencies. They get old fast, and you're better off turning them off and blasting your own tunes because, holy crap, I will be too soon if I hear Death or Glory again.
At the end of the day, Skate It is actually a really competent spinoff. The maps, while a little generic-looking, can have some really sweet spots to do some really cool stuff on. It does manage to replicate how Skate plays on the miniature screen, which is an achievement in its own right.
Now, I do wish to cover the entire trilogy, and I do have Skate and Skate 3. Skate 2, on the other hand, costs more than a AAA game in 2023 so uh…Stay tuned for that.