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Skate It

Skate what?

So, despite the Wiimote's intermittent frustrations, this all works well enough. I've spent many hours ploughing through the very many challenges in the various sections of San Van, or other nations, and if you take into account the lack of immediacy you can perform some impressive feats. While slightly more generous compensation would have been nice when clipping edges, or getting stuck in a corner, the skating feels realistic. It's less arcadey than the Tony Hawk's games, even in this version. This is most obvious when skating quarter-pipes, where getting air is a tricky challenge, unlike Tony's jet-propelled motion. But what could have been some decent Wii fun is more frequently spoiled by stupid, nagging nonsense than by the controls messing up.

Take, for instance, trying to win a race. These often require you to consistently perform tricks as you skate in order to add bonus seconds to your time. But you're not just clocking up enough time to reach checkpoints - you're racing against the invisible others too. So you need to move quickly, do tricks impressive enough to add on significant time, and whatever you do, not bail. While these are events that allow bailing, once you're down you're going to lose, so you have to start over. Now, the game has a teleporting start-over facility. In many areas you can even set your own restart point, and it instantly zaps you there. But not for races, or other timed challenges. Here to restart you have to bring up the main menu (weird three-second delay), choose it, and reload the beginning. Except it's not that simple.

Bailing - falling off your skateboard - is apparently of so much interest to the developers that they have the game enter an unskippable slow-motion sequence. Oh joy. So you helplessly watch as you tumble into the ground as slowly as possible, hammering the A button in increased frustration. Finally it lets you move on - but oh no! This tumble was one brutal enough (as about half of them are) to go into the Hall of Meat! Here it loads up another screen on which you're told how much of your body you've sprained, bruised and broken, for no damned reason at all. Another screen to break your A button on. Then finally it bloody well goes back into the game and lets you open the options screen to restart the race. And there's not a single reason for any of it. This, by the way, is accompanied by your constant narrating dickhead companion's voice, which mocks you throughout, leading to some of the most inventive swearing I've ever performed. It's like they wanted you to loathe their game as much as possible.

Talking of unskippable, finishing any of the game's challenges forces you to watch a slow-motion replay of it, or sections of it, as photographs are taken, or video footage is shown. After I've grinded the nine-hundredth rail, I really don't want to watch the shoddy camerawork insanely repeating the bit where I skated in a circle between tricks, in slow motion. Good grief, let me skip this unutterable crap!

I ended up feeling furious hate toward an average game. I'd love to give it 2/10 just to kick it in the nuts. I want revenge on the f***wit 'buddy', whose incessant banter made me wish boils upon his imaginary family - and never more than in a challenge that gave me five seconds to trick a gap, thus triggering his "time is running out!" nags from the moment I started. Shut up! Shut up shut up shut up!

Oddly, there's no improvements when you change skateboards, or get sponsors.

There's another oddity. I chose to play as a girl, because girls are prettier to stare at on a screen all day long. The game, however, has only recorded the dialogue for a male player. So competition commentators and people phoning you alike will refer to you as a boy. Classy.

If Skate It had removed its pointless irritations, it would still have fallen short of being great thanks to the clunky controls and lack of atmosphere. While Skate gave Activision a necessary scare, challenging the Tony Hawk's license for supremacy, Skate It won't be causing anyone much worry. It would have been hard to give it more than a 6. But the maddening lengths to which it goes to be annoying has to cost it something. What could ever have possessed them not to have options to turn off the banal, omnipresent crap-fountain of snarky comments, or a button to skip the slow-motion tedium, is unfathomable. And to build in a really fantastic feature that lets you instantly skip back to the start of a section, and then to not let you use it when you need it most... Just bewildering.

There will surely be a great skateboarding game for the Wii, perhaps with the next iteration of the balance board, but this isn't it.

5 / 10

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