Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

A wiimote chance of this matching Project 8.

The potential of the Wiimote, as I will forever insist on calling it, is enormous, and for many excited developer puppies it will be overwhelming. While the new Monkey Ball wasted some opportunities with the crappy party games, the natural and instinctive use of a motion sensitive controller for the regular levels feels like this is how the series was always designed to be played. A skateboarding sim, however, does not.

Skateboards are long and thin, and point forward. Wii controllers are long and thin, and point forward. We have synergy. So the first surprise comes, in this first console Hawk game not to come from Neversoft, as you are instructed to turn the Wii controller sideways and hold on with both hands. The second surprise comes when the menus require you to scroll through with the d-pad, including when entering your name from the on-screen keyboard. It's only been a week, and this already feels like the antiquated way your grandmother entered her initials into videogames when she was young and the war was on. You've got a pointer in your hands, and it won't let you point.

So this is downhill skating, like the recent DS game of the same name, in a variety of competitive formats, in locations around the world. Think SSX on skateboards. The designers certainly were.

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Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

Made from fresh downhillberries.

Vicarious Visions have invariably done a stellar job of recreating Tony Hawk games for the Nintendo consoles. The GBA games were surprisingly effective, and last year's American Sk8land for the DS managed the enviable feat of being better than its console big brother. Their versions have always stuck to the purer Hawk game of the early Pro Skater series, while the NeverSoft versions deviated further and further. Until now, that is.

Of course, Downhill Jam isn't partnered with the excellent Tony Hawk's Project 8, but rather the forthcoming Wii title of the same name. Goodness knows how effectively the Wii game will work, with the Wiimote mystically transforming into a skateboard - it sounds potentially splendid. However, with such a neat gimmick removed, the DS incarnation feels a bit lacking.

It's important to say from the off that, when it comes to the skating, DJ gets it right. It's as smooth and instinctive as ever before, gravity feeling real, the grinds providing texture, the controls simple and effective. It's just, this doesn't seem like the right way to be using it all.

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Tony Hawk goes Downhill

With Jam. No word on butter.

There was going to be a joke here. It was going to be about Tony Hawk's career path - from Pro Skater to THUG before THAWing out and settling down to toast his life with Downhill Jam on it - but I've just checked and there's no bread and if I can't have some jam on toast then you're all just going to have to sit through a meaningless paragraph. There.