“What happened to you Birdman?”
February 3, 2019 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Where did all the skateboard games go? [Destructoid] “Sure, when it comes to skateboard games we've had the dumpster fire that was Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 and smaller titles such as OlliOlli and OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood. But compared to previous hardware generations, the lack of skateboard and extreme sports games in general is evident. So today I'm going to attempt to answer that question, in what I believe is a number of problems that began occurring over time, but inevitably killed off skateboard video games within the mainstream. Knowing and looking back at the history behind the sub-genre itself can provide great context and the answers we seek, as this didn't exactly happen overnight.”

• Session is the punishing skateboarding sim that hopes to revive a dead genre [VG 24/7] [Game Trailer][YouTube]
“Skateboarding is hard. So is Session. The idea of a game that simulates skateboarding seems like one out of time. Skateboarding and the extreme sports genre burned brightly in the early 2000s, but as the Tony Hawk’s games were worn down through yearly iterations and novelty, and EA’s Skate series clearly didn’t bring in enough money, extreme sports fizzled out. It’s still with us in different ways, perhaps; Rocket League’s mad take on sports spectacle, or Olli Olli’s one-chance endless runner platform hybrid. But a game where you carve along concrete and pop a tre-flip off a funbox seems as dated as baggy jeans and tiny wheels. But skateboarding itself is alive and pumping, with multiple styles and tricks celebrated, and new blood, not least in the proliferation of female skaters turning pro. There’s a lot to celebrate about a culture that’s had its days in the sun and the rain, swinging between big sponsorship and mainstream acceptance to outlaw status and dismissal, and then back again. Session, from Canadian developer Crea-ture, aims to capture the essence of skateboarding – perseverance, creativity and the freedom to have fun.”
• How a troubled game starring Bruce Willis led to the skateboarding revolution [Eurogamer]
“Apocalypse went on to do reasonably well - well enough for Activision to give Neversoft another shot with a different project. "Activision saw us as very reliable, as we saved their bacon with Apocalypse," says Mick West, co-founder of Neversoft and someone known within the industry for working with tight codes on restrictive systems from the 8-Bit days. "They wanted to invest money in a franchise, so they picked us." West saw this as an opportunity for Neversoft to prove itself, and the studio got to work on a demo. The original tech demo would look familiar. "We used some of the art assets temporarily. But the engine started out exactly the same. We just added bits as needed. There were lots of references in the code to 'Bruce'," says West. Cammarata confirms this: "The name of the code that ran the main character was still 'Cbruce'. the main character was literally Bruce Willis with a machine gun on a skateboard, and we were trying to find the 'soul' of the game." It wasn't long before the team found that soul, but there was much to do in order to work out how tricks would be executed through a controller.”
• How do you rejuvenate the skateboarding genre? Put a bird on it! [Gamasutra]
“The idea behind SkateBird, a charming skater featuring a bird shredding through a table-top sized, Toy Story-like park, came after Fox found a gif of a real bird skating around on a half pipe in a mini-skatepark. Developer Kevin Suckert, who goes by Der_Kevin on Twitter, had created a prototype skateboarding game featuring a board with no rider -- he couldn’t get the human part of skateboarding to feel quite right without looking funky. Fox thought making a bird the focus would allow the game to be a bit zanier without feeling out of place. “I contacted him and he loved the idea of a bird on a board. So I bought what he created and started to incorporate it,” Fox said. “I decided to just project the bird on top of the board. The board is what exists physically and the bird mostly just tries to follow along in a somewhat intelligent way.””
• The New Tony Hawk Game Is For Phones And It's Bad [Kotaku]
“Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam is the newest skateboarding game from world famous skater Tony Hawk. It tries to recapture the magic of those old Pro Skater games, but ends up feeling really bad to play. I loved the Tony Hawk games. For years I would excitedly buy each new installment. So when I heard The Birdman was working on a new game, I was ready to play it. Even though it was a mobile game, I was still curious. I’ve enjoyed plenty of mobile games in the past. Maybe I’d enjoy Tony Hawk’s new game? The short answer is: No. I didn’t like Skate Jam at all. [...] This game seems to be a re-skin of a different mobile game made by the same developers of Skate Jam. That game is called Skateboard Party 3 and I played it when it came out and I didn’t like it much either! Just adding Tony Hawk doesn’t make something better.”
posted by Fizz (39 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I’d buy a PlayStation 4 in a heartbeat to play a hypothetical Skate 4. The first 3 games are ridiculously enjoyable.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:38 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]

For me the original Skate or Die is a game I'll always remember fondly, not because the game was easy to play (on the contrary it was brutally difficult), but it was still fun to play on my Nintendo with my friends. There was a lot of laughter. Pool joust was a joy, in the same way that blue-shelling someone in Mario Kart was a joy.
posted by Fizz at 8:38 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]

Hm. Almost none of this logic works when weighed against the fact that there seems to be a new *snowboarding* game every week or two lately.
posted by rokusan at 8:49 AM on February 3

I still remember the .. title scree music? from the original Skate or Die... well mainly this bit:

SKATE ... OR ... DIE !
posted by some loser at 8:57 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]

as a skater IRL the video games were just as hard and I was all "this is twice the suck" so I would go outside and skate I mean suck at it.
posted by nikaspark at 8:59 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]

I played the first Skate game quite a bit.

But what I really want is a new SSX.
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:03 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]

Meanwhile, some of us just want to go back to Tokyo-to and scan the dial for a certain pirate radio broadcast.
posted by belarius at 9:05 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]

No wait that was Skate or Die 2... I don't suppose I can amend my comment now. hrmph.
posted by some loser at 9:08 AM on February 3

Sk4te or Die
posted by Nelson at 9:14 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]

Skate 2019:. Lithium Battery Commuter Boogaloo
posted by benzenedream at 9:21 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Superman by Goldfinger is still in rotation on my snowboarding playlists. A significant part of my childhood was spent playing SSX Tricky, I’m amazing that branch of the SSX series hasn’t been revived.
posted by Snacks at 9:34 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Look, all I want to do is perform a sick grind into a haunted house for beaucoup points. I don't understand why this is such a big ask.
posted by Iridic at 9:45 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]

I know some of the articles I linked to up above mention it in passing but seriously, OlliOlli/OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood is worth your time. It makes you smile and it just feels right.
posted by Fizz at 9:54 AM on February 3

THPS 2 was basically perfection - it has this kind of Neo learning to hack the Matrix quality as your character gets better stats and you're able to do things that are clearly not possible in real life, but stay on the right line of cartoonish, and are enormous fun as a result. There were five of us living together in the final year of college and it was a very rare event for anything else to be in the PS1 under the TV. The soundtrack was great too. The later ones gradually got too gimmicky and fiddly - despite having more stuff, they felt less open-ended somehow.
posted by kersplunk at 9:54 AM on February 3 [8 favorites]

I relatively recently played through pro skater 2 (after realizing that in 2018, my phone is powerful enough to run a playstation emulator with no problems). It remains an awesome game. And I had the Offspring stuck in my head for like two months.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:56 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

I know some of the articles I linked to up above mention it in passing but seriously, OlliOlli/OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood is worth your time.

Now you mention it I’ve been hankering for a skate game on switch.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on February 3

Artw, OlliOlli and OlliOlli: Welcome to Olliwood is being released later this month, so you'll get your wish. And even though it's not a skateboarding game, the closest comparison that currently exists on the Switch is Floor Kids, also worth checking out and worth it alone for the soundtrack which is entirely produced/scored by Kid Koala. :)
posted by Fizz at 10:12 AM on February 3

If it's the music that you've been missing then you should def check out the best online radio station: jet set radio! live! it's so remix!
Yeah, you'd think skating or ssx or what was the jetski one or the snowmobile one would be a natural fit for this console generation since they all have motion controls or touch screens or both but, outside of the switch, never utilize them.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:18 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]

I guess it doesn't quite predate "720", but California Games (1985) featured a half-pipe skating event. I never saw it, but another early home skating game was apparently Skate Boardin' for the 2600 (1987)

Wait, what in the absolute world is this thing? Is it a control accessory, or a bundled crappy branded skateboard?
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 10:21 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]

The big thing I remember about Skate Or Die for NES was that both games wanted you to jam on your buttons way faster than human hands were meant to. The GameBoy version was a good little game, though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:25 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

This page (translation) says it's a bundled, branded skateboard; and that the package came with the Commodore port of Skate or Die. wow. at the same time, I know the skateboard would be a useless piece of junk to me, but wish I had one.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 10:48 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]

Warframe, an excellent f2p co-op parkour shooter, added hoverboards in its latest update along with grinding and combo sequences.

They feel great to ride and i've wasted hours cruising around Venus doing sweet jumps while under plasma fire.

You can put stickers on them or mod them to leave a flame trail or fling your board at enemies as a blade.
posted by xiw at 11:05 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]

I was just awful at 720. Face full of killer bees every time.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:56 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]

I was/am a skateboarder and everyone was awful at 720, all versions including the coin op version. That game was totally poo. So where all the other early skateboarding/surfing games including California Games and T&C. There were a few other games that skateboarding features, and not a single one of them was good.

Until Tony Hawks Pro Skater came out nothing even resembled skateboarding. THPS actually managed to catch that feeling of flowing over terrain and paid attention to a lot of details about skateboarding to make it work.
posted by loquacious at 12:12 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]

The THPS2 soundtrack (yt)

01. Rage Against the Machine - Guerilla Radio
02. Bad Religion - You
03. Anthrax featuring Chuck D. (Public Enemy) - Bring the Noise
04. Powerman 5000 - When Worlds Collide
05. Naughty by Nature - Pin the Tail on the Donkey
06. Papa Roach - Blood Brothers
07. The High and Mighty featuring Mos Def & Mad Skillz - B-Boy Document
08. Consumed - Heavy Metal Winner
09. Dub Pistols - Cyclone
10. Swingin' Utters - Five Lessons Learned
11. Styles of Beyond - Subculture
12. Millencolin - No Cigar
13. Alley Life featuring Black Planet - Out With the Old
14. Lagwagon - May 16
15. Fu Manchu - Evil Eye

This was the PS game the blind could enjoy. That's a killer mix, quite happy to have a disk with that alone on it back in the 90s. Wipeout 2097 works well as a stand-alone mixtape too.

For some reason I thought SOAD - Marmalade was on THPS2, and Junkie XL was on Wipeout 2097. Maybe they were just in the Aussie copies.
posted by adept256 at 12:22 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]

But what I really want is a new SSX.

100% this. SSX and SSX Tricky are still two of my favorite games of all time. There's a snowboarding game available on AppleTV (the name of which escapes me, only played it at someone else's house) that's like ... 50% of what SSX games were? It's kinda fun. But, nowhere near as fun as what we had back on a PS2.
posted by tocts at 12:37 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

The most interesting bit of that article for me was the claim that skateboarding interest in the yoofs has declined so much since 2004. Is it so? Is skateboarding for the olds now?
posted by anthill at 1:32 PM on February 3

‘Thrasher: Skate and Destroy’ was my jam back in the day. No “auto-go”; you had to push if you wanted to move anywhere. Way more realistic.

Also, I used to walk to school in the snow, uphill BOTH WAYS.
posted by Pecinpah at 1:37 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]

No mention of True Skate? that's all my son (who skateboards) will play on a phone. It plays like a finger board and uses finger swipes to represent foot pushes and two finger action for kick flips, ollies, etc.
posted by furtive at 2:00 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Oh wow Skatebird is looking a lot better now than the initial prototype reveal I saw a while back. I would buy the heck out of a Switch port of that.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:27 PM on February 3

No one talks about 720 Degrees anymore.
posted by JHarris at 4:43 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]

Pool joust! Plus Skate or Die had amped up theme music that got you ready to shred.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:18 PM on February 3

. Is it so? Is skateboarding for the olds now?

/makes the Gen X salute.
posted by Artw at 7:19 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

I can't really find a good video of it, but there was an arcade game called Top Skater where you stood on a skateboard that was pretty alright. It had the good parts of a few Pennywise songs.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:47 PM on February 3

Skate or Die, yes. 720, meh. SSX Tricky is the game I challenge Death to for my soul.
posted by quinndexter at 8:49 PM on February 3

I rode a real board all the way through grad school, because my campus was conducive for it if you had classes on top and bottom of the hill. As arthritis and lupus started taking some abilities away, I could relive some of that feeling with THPS. I loved the hell out of that game. My husband and I would play for hours, switching back and forth. I tend to keep all my old game systems, and somewhere is my ps and tony. Now I have to dig them up.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:57 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]

Pool joust! Plus Skate or Die had amped up theme music yt that got you ready to shred.

The NES theme had nothing on the sample-slingin' C64 version.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:33 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]

Was just about to link that grumpybear69! Konami had some great musicians on-staff, and the NES had great sound, but Skate Or Die's theme shows what the mighty SID chip can do in capable hands.
posted by JHarris at 6:29 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]

I was just chatting with a friend and we both agreed that a modern SSX/SSX Tricky -- either a remastered version of the old game or a new original -- would sell like hotcakes. That's probably one of the key games from the PS2 era that has that kind of devoted fanbase. I'd be fine with a half-way passable modern THPS, though. The graphics in the Session trailer look pretty nice but the real question is how the controls feel.
posted by mhum at 6:25 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]

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