Hands-on: EA’s Skate-It (DS and Wii)
One of the most amazing third-party Wii games at E3 was EA’s Skate It. The game carries a lot in common with last year’s Skate for the 360 and PS3. The storyline revolves around a disaster that happens in the city from the first Skate. The entire city is now in ruins and your character gets to skate wherever they want. EA really wanted to emphasize an open environment where the players could skate virtually anywhere and anyway they want to.
The demo of the game consisted of one basic area in the heart of the ruined city. All the main elements for a skating game were there: gaps, jumps, verts, fun boxes, rails, and all sorts of skatable rubble. First, I got to try the game using just the Wii Remote. Every move and button can be mapped to only the Wii remote, and it basically controls just like a skateboard. To turn left, tilt the Wiimote left. To ollie, flick the Wii remote up. It’s very intuitive and easy to get used to grinding and performing tricks to string together multiple lines. The game’s scoring system is based on how many tricks you can do within a given ‘line’. There are all sorts of combo multipliers and linking varied tricks can lead to a lot of points.
The Wiimote controlled really well and is a good control option if the player doesn’t own a Balance Board. They also said the game can be controlled using the Wiimote and nunchuk, where the nunchuk joystick is used to control the characters movements.
The next main test for me was using the Wii’s Balance Board to skate. The controls are fairly basic at first. Using the Balance Board to turn left and right is very similar to Snowboarding in Wii fit. Just shift your weight to either your toes or heels to turn your skateboard. In addition, ollies can be performed by shifting weight to the back of the board and straightening your legs. Nollies can be performed by shifting weight to the front and standing up.
All of the tricks can then be performed putting weight on different ‘hot zones’ on the Balance board. Just hit the ‘B’ button to switch between flip tricks and grab tricks and then shift your weight when you ollie. It all sounds complicated but it’s incredibly easy to get used to. I was performing a number of combos in no time and connecting a lot of tricks for some great lines. Even once you’ve mastered the controls, there’s still the matter of doing well in the game : ) The game offers a ton of challenges to master including huge jumps and gaps, and grinding a number of rails in succession.
The game does everything very well and I came away impressed and wanting to play more! The game will feature a multiplayer mode where players switch with each other in a hot-seat mode (since only one balance board can be connected at a time). They also mentioned a number of real-world levels that will be included in the game as well. All in all, Skate It is a great example of how well the Balance Board can be used in a skateboarding game! Look for this game to release this Fall.
The DS version is absolutely amazing! I was able to get some hands on time on the last day just before the show floor closed. The top screen shows the games graphics and the bottom screen shows a picture of your board where all your tricks are executed. The graphics in the game are some of the best I’ve ever seen on the DS. It literally rivals most 64 games and even early PS2 graphics. All the moves can be seen very well, even on the small screen, and the world is very detailed.
The game follows the same storyline as the Wii version and a lot of the levels will be very similar to the Wii version the EA rep said. The gameplay revolves around using the touch screen and stylus to execute all your tricks. You simply draw lengthwise across the board to do an ollie. Draw a quick diagonal line left or right to do a kickflip or heelflip respectively. Do simple curved lines to do Pop Shove-its and 360 flips. Other moves can be performed very easily with simple brush strokes from the stylus.
Skate It for the DS is THE best skateboarding game for a handheld, no question! The game also features Single card play, Multicard play (up to 4 players), and 2-player online wifi play! It’s incredible how much they’ve packed into the DS version. We’ve been waiting awhile for a new wave of great DS games, and I think we’ll be getting our first taste with Skate It for DS this Fall.
I’ll have more hands on previews later today and tomorrow. I’ve been writing frantically trying to finish these : ) I can’t wait for these two games!