Let's discuss something that I know nothing about for a moment shall we? No? well tough shit, I'm writing this so I say what goes in. Skateboarding was something I just never got the hang of growing up. The whole concept of it seemed simple enough, just balance yourself on the board and try to move forward, turn and if up to it, perform a trick or two. While I was able to do the balance and turn thing, any attempt at a trick, no matter how simple ended with my face greeting the ground. As such, I was never able to best my neighbor (or anyone else for that matter) on those dull summer weekends but relief finally came when Skate or Die was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Unfortunately I sucked just as much at virtual skateboarding as I did in real life and everyone was sure to make that apparent whenever we played, what are friends for. So, here we are a whole decade plus years later and while my game playing skills have greatly improved I still stay as far away from those four-wheeled boards of death as possible. I guess what I'm trying to say is this is a review for Skate or Die and its sequel Skate or Die 2: The Search for Double Trouble. I'll be using screenshots from the Gameboy Advance and PS2 versions of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 not because I wanted too but because it was suggested by Jacky of We Ain't Cool and seconded by Eddie from Dancing Swines so blame them.
Normally when it comes to sequels you could compare them side by side noting what was added and taken out of the series basic structure but because the people at Electronic Arts lost their fucking minds when making the sequel, I'm forced to write two separate mini-reviews.
You're the new guy in the exciting world of professional skateboarding but before you can earn that Mountain Dew endorsement money to support your drug addiction you'll have to prove yourself to the poorly animated crowd of pixilated onlookers. Ok, that's not the official story but the game didn't have one so I thought this was pretty spiffy. Upon starting the game, you'll find yourself in Rodney's skate shop which is where you can sign in your name and choose if you want to practice or compete and check the top scores for the events. Once you've finished up all of that then your ready to prove you've got what it takes to appear in a commercial for miniature bagel pizzas by entering five competitions either individually or all at once.
Competitions such as the Halfpipe where the highest score wins, the Highjump where the highest jump wins, the Downhill Race where an invisible volcano has just erupted and you must reached the finish line before the non-existent lava consume you, the Downhill Jam where you and an opponent have apparently just robbed someone and now you must race through an alley to narc your friend out to the sleeping police officer and finally the Pool Joust a one on one best of three fight in an empty swimming pool where players must knock each other down using an oversized Q-tip. Those are your choices and each game is pretty short on its own which is way this is best played with other people (up to eight) as it not only makes it seem longer but is also just plain fun.
Graphically, I've got no complaints seeing as this was not only a port of the Electronic Arts PC version but also done in 1988 and the company responsible for it, Konami under their Ultra Games label, was familiar enough with the NES to make it look as good as possible at the time. The sound itself could use some work as most of the time all that's heard are the classic beeps, bloops and dings common with games from that era. The music fares better though as each event has its own background tune that perfectly fits with the current competition. As for the control, I would go into it but it changes with each event so it would best to just find a manual or do some trial and error.
In 1990 Electronic Arts felt it was the time to release the sequel to their hit skateboarding game, Skate or Die, especially after the success Konami's NES port two years earlier. However, instead of adding a couple new competitions or a career mode they decided to take the competitive aspect out and create a skateboarding action/adventure game. The story takes place in the town of Elwood where You (controlled by the player) have just run over the Mayor's wife's pet poodle and as a result led to the outlawing of skateboards within the city limits. So now you'll have to redeem yourself by getting the ban lifted, earning money to build a new halfpipe and rescue your girlfriend from a gang.
Sounds easy right, well yes it is if you overlook the fact that everyone wants you dead. Everyone that is except your friends who offer no real help just piss poor quotes before a level. The only real help you get comes from Rodney and Lester (both returning from the first one) who will sell you new boards and teach a couple tricks if you can give them the food or music they ask for. Other then that you'll have to pick up every rotten egg, M-80 and ammo-clips for your paintgun laying on the street to survive the onslaught of angry old ladies and mall-zombies. Besides the adventure aspect of the game, there's also a ramp mode you can play which, for a small time, will bring back memories of the previous Skate or Die.
The graphics suffer a little from what appears to be attempts at detailing but not enough so that you'd get distracted or confuse a CD for a manhole cover. Speaking of which the item icons are bit too small which will lead to missed ammo-clips and such. The enemies have come down with a case of the old beat'em up syndrome and you'll find yourself killing the same three people until you just stop paying attention but thankfully each new level (four in all) brings in new enemies.
There's little to no sound effects to speak of and those that are in offer nothing but the usual bloops and dings of before. The music is at best tolerable, nothing good but nothing bad either just ok all around except for the theme song which should definitely get some kind of award for escaping the Nintendo censors with its excessive use of the word DIE. The games also got some speech, nothing fancy though just phrases like "Yo Dude!", "Skate Straight!" and "I can't believe Angela is cheating on Ben with his Uncle, the wealthy banker from Ohio, she's such a bitch!".
The control is one of the biggest problems in the game. For starters, everything is sluggish and it takes a week short of eternity for your guy to stop moving and turn around. Now this is somewhat remedied by purchasing a new board from Rodney, but getting the necessary food and music to do so becomes a test of patience and anger management. The A button makes you jump while the B button activates your weapons and tricks but only if you have them equipped (three at a time) via the status screen brought up with the SELECT button. Performing these moves is done by holding down the B button and pressing the UP, DOWN or LEFT/RIGHT on the D-pad which can really get on your nerves in the heat of a paintball fight. As for the Ramp portion of the game, I have no idea.
In closing Skate or Die good and Skate or Die 2 not so good. So there, two reviews for the price of one, not that it cost you anything.
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