|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 17, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1; 2-4 Competitive Hotseat||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Wii Balance Board is an excellent peripheral that is finally getting its just desserts this holiday season. Games like Ubisofts Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party and Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip, along with EAs Skate It! are putting the accessory to the test in fun and interesting ways.
Whereas Ubisoft decided to take a more casual approach in their titles, EA has gone all out and made the Balance Board much more of a simulation implement that is the best representation of street skating to date. In fact, the use of the Balance Board is so realistic many gamers, including myself, will have to resort to the excellent motion controls to make up for their lack of coordination. Regardless of the control type you choose, Skate It! for Wii is a very deep and engaging title that will have you shredding through the streets of San Vanelona and beyond, grinning all the way.
As if not to be outdone by fellow Québec-based development studio, Ubisoft Montréal, EA Montréal has put their own stamp on the sports game world. The question is, which company is the Nordiques and who are the Canadiens? Its pretty tough to tell because both studios have proven to be quite adept at bringing a compelling experience to Nintendos console. However, despite their obvious similarities, they are quite different games with a very distinct target audience in mind. While Ubisoft sought to appeal to a wide variety of Wii owners, EA has gone for the relatively small group of core gamers that own the console. Consequently, gameplay is every bit as challenging and addictive as old Tony Hawk titles and last years Skate for the 360 and PS3. Casual gamers, play at your own risk!
EAs Skate It! certainly doesnt try to tell any meaningful story. Taking a cue from Saints Row 2, players return to a disaster ravaged San Vanelona that is even riper with skating opportunities. Soon thereafter, players take a trip around the world to real life locations that will further their skating careers and fame. Though the story surrounding Skate It! frankly sucks, the quest to nail tricks, gain sponsors, and improve as a skater is as satisfying as it has ever been. Unfortunately, the dismal character creator with its paucity of ugly customization options tends to hinder the single-player experience. Fortunately, the excellent controls make up for such missteps.
The Flickit control concept employed by Skate revolutionized skating controls. By mapping trick techniques strictly to the analog sticks and leaving the face buttons behind, Skate was able to more realistically capture the feel of street skating. Skate It! takes that same core concept and applies it to both the Wii Remote and Balance Board control setups. In fact, the motion-sensitive controller and pressure-sensitive board manage to enhance the Flickit experience even that much more.
Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk will undoubtedly prove to be the most widely used control setup, as it is far more user/gamer-friendly. Players familiar with past skater titles will quickly adapt to the well timed flicks Skate It! requires of them. I found the motion controls to be very accessible and was performing grinds, manuals, kick flips, nollies, and grab tricks in no time. Whats more, executing realistic combos with a flick of the Wii Remote feels satisfying and never turns into an utter waggle fest. Still, players will find their wrists getting tired after awhile.
The Balance Board, however, is far more technical than the motion control setup. In fact, I found it nearly impossible to successfully advance the game with it. Despite what you might be thinking, this isnt a complaint. The fact that Im not coordinated enough to dominate the Balance Board controls is not much of an issue; Im glad the scheme wasnt bastardized for my inept skill level. Even so, the low and high pressure-sensitive inputs are quite challenging, even awkward. Yet, I can still see that an experienced skater or committed gamer could break free of the steep learning curve and really enjoy Skate It! whilst mounted on the deck controller. Any way you look at it, whether mastering or foundering with the Balance Board controls, Skate It! is the most realistic street skating simulator to date.