The Tony Hawk games dominated the skateboard game market since the 1999 smash hit, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Gamers were addicted to the free-flowing, high-combo arcade style gameplay of the Tony Hawk games, which saw no less than nine iterations across every platform imaginable. When EA’s internal Black Box studio dreamt up a simulation-based skateboard title for the current generation of consoles, EA assumed the role of the underdog for once.EA wanted to show gamers just how cool it feels to nail a kickflip. The first Skate title appeared on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2007, and brought a new perspective to the skateboarding genre. No longer were you tasked with grinding on telephone polls for hundreds of feet; instead, gamers were given a more realistic world where your goal is to do simple, true-to-life skate tricks. EA wanted to show gamers just how cool it feels to nail a kickflip down a set of stairs, or capture footage of a grind on a park bench.
Skate is a series for skateboarders, for better or worse. The trial and error style of gameplay—trying to land a particular trick over and over, getting the timing and precision just right—perfectly mimics the challenge and satisfaction that comes from executing something you’ve envisioned. The physics, which are unapologetically heavy and weighty, absolutely succeed in replicating the frustration, triumph, and satisfaction of skateboarding. As in the real world, you can feel the friction and scrape of wood and metal as you grind and slide on ledges. Grinds no longer speed you up and give you bursts of acceleration, as they do in the Tony Hawk series.The button-mashing style of the Tony Hawk games needed to be the first aspect to hit the bin. Of course, the button-mashing style of the Tony Hawk games needed to be the first aspect to hit the bin, and EA looked inward, to their own Fight Night boxing series for inspiration. The Fight Night games offer a control scheme that maps your left and right hands to their respective control sticks, providing unprecedented control in throwing precise jabs, hooks, and haymakers. Skate took the idea of precision control and mapped the skater’s feet to the right stick, and their body to the left stick.
“Flicking” the right stick causes the skater to ollie (jump) and different variations of the flick result in different tricks. Flick to the right and you’ll kickflip; to the left is a heelflip. Mixing sweeps with flicks results in more complex flip tricks. The mapping is intuitive, and correlates to real life foot placement and motions. If you are familiar with the ins and outs of real skating, the method of flicking and choosing exact tricks will come more easily. Critics and gamers reveled in Skate’s simulation gameplay, and the remarkable turnaround of the skateboarding genre.
Skate 2, released in 2009, was met with even more acclaim than the previous title, and sought to remedy some of the less refined aspects of the original. Skate 2 introduced the ability to get off your board and walk around. With this newfound freedom, you could also grab and manipulate the environment in order to create new skate spots. Now, you could haul a traffic barrier from across the street and plant it in the middle of a staircase, creating an impromptu rail.Skate It for Wii was released in 2009, and added a unique twist to the simulation style gameplay. Even the Wii saw an entry in the Skate franchise, albeit in an abbreviated form. Skate It for Wii was released in 2009, and added a unique twist to the simulation style gameplay. Due to the Wii’s lack of control sticks, EA translated the intuitive “flick it” system to the gesture-based motion control of the Wii. Also, due to the Wii’s limited horsepower, levels were parsed up, and gameplay no longer took place in the sprawling, open-world city that was arguably more suited to the Skate series’ complementary design.
Skate 3, the most recent entry into the series, was released on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. The gameplay showed even more depth with the addition of a slew of new technical tricks, such as late flips, under flips, darkslides, and more. More importantly, for series veterans and newcomers alike, Skate 3 offered a range of physics modes for first time. In addition to the buttery-smooth default physics, beginners could try a more forgiving physics mode, where nailing tricks comes much more easily. Hardcore mode, reserved only for masochists and experts, makes the gameplay much less forgiving, though with the added satisfaction of an even weightier, realistic skateboarding experience. With Hardcore physics, Skate 3 demands utmost precision and timing from gamers.
Video and photo editing, a staple of the series, also saw huge upgrades in Skate 3, as you could now live out your inner skate videographer/ photographer dreams. You can position cameras, set zooms and filters, and edit together clips to make your own skate videos. The Skate games aren’t the prettiest games, but they certainly succeed in capturing the aesthetics of skateboard culture. The tricks and animations matter most, and Skate absolutely captivates with its spot-on depiction of flip tricks, tweaked airs, and vertical grabs.Skate 3 is undoubtedly the most polished of the three main Skate entries, but each title has its own special soul. Skate 3 is undoubtedly the most polished of the three main Skate entries, but each title has its own special soul, and the older titles are still fun to replay. The Skate series will be remembered for its daring, markedly different approach to skateboarding, and for effectively terminating the meandering Tony Hawk series. Skate brings authentic skateboard simulation to consoles, and unmistakably captures the free-form, do-it-yourself attitude of skateboarding.