Tony Hawk's American SK8Land Reader Review
I remember when this was shown during Nintendo’s E3 presentation last year. It spiked my interest in the DS because at that stage I did not have one. After I had watched the small video clip a couple of times I thought to myself how the skateboarding we all know and love on the ‘big consoles’ would translate to the much smaller DS. Once I played the game for the first time any fears I had disappeared before I had landed my first kickflip.
The story is rather weak and contrived. It’s something to do with trying to stop a famous skate warehouse from being closed down. What’s important here is that, although the ‘cut scenes’ are nicely done in a cartoon kind of way, the story is not really that important. Sure it gives you the reasons why you travel across L.A. getting money but this game is all about the skating.
With only the short E3 clip and a handful of screenshots to go on for some months I was not really holding out much hope for the game. But as with many DS games the screenshots do not do the game justice. It zooms along at 60fps and the cartoon/cell shading look works brilliantly to give a nice feeling of speed and clarity. To really judge this game on how it looks you have to see it on the DS screen(s).
As I mentioned earlier I was worried about how the game would translate to the DS. I had played the GBA versions of the pervious Tony Hawk games and felt that the team had done well to get out of it what they could. I just wondered how comfortable it would be to play for long periods of time. I was happy to find out that it works magically. The 4 face buttons for the tricks and shoulder buttons for reverts/spins works really well. The D-pad for movement is fine and the loss of the analogue stick has had no ill effects that I can see.
When it was announced at E3 they made a point of pushing the Nintendo Wifi connection aspect of the game. As I had an existing wireless network in my house I thought this would be a great and easy way to play DS games in multiplayer mode as I didn’t know anybody else who intended to buy a DS. In everything I read and saw I was promised it was going to be easy to get up and running and connect to the network. This was true to a certain extent although my connection is sporadic at best. The games themselves are fun enough, all the usual suspects are there (Bar Horse, very disappointed at this omission, I’m a horse lover…..well you know what I mean...) Trick attack, combo mambo etc. These can be both fun and annoying in equal measure. If you opponent just skates off to a bowl somewhere and does a big mad lip combo you pretty much have no chance and if you want to win you have to resort to those tactics too. On the occasions that you are winning intentional drop-outs by your opponent are too frequent and not punished. On the plus side when you can update your scores to their website and download replays of other high scores to the DS, both of which I have enjoyed more than playing against people online. You can also download alternative goals for when you have completed the main game.
Overall the main thing I would say is that it’s just so damn playable that I keep going back for more. My DS sits on my bedside table and every night I go for a quick blast to try and break that high score in classic mode (which is probably more fun than the story mode) or to try out a new line. I’d say if you’re looking into buying it for the online mode then it’s not worth it but for a nice conversion of the ‘daddy’ game its ace.
8 / 10