E3 08 Preview: Skate It
EA has yet to release any big details on Skate 2, the followup to their control-revolutionizing skateboarding game from last year, but they're ready to talk about their Wii title coming this year. Skate It takes the control innovation present in the first game and applies it to the Wii, both to the remote and to the Balance Board that shipped earlier this year with Wii Fit.
What I got to see of the game at E3 was promising, even if they had to scale back the graphics of the original game. I'm no Skate expert here, but it seems like the small area I fiddled around with inside Skate It is the same as in the first game, but of course the Wii-style graphics weren't as sharp. But what did make a huge difference was the controls. I was able to play with both the Wiimote and the Balance Board, and both offer a unique but interesting experience.
With the Wiimote, you hold it out level and would press the A button to kick or the B trigger to do grab moves, and tilt the Wiimote while moving to turn your skater. Otherwise, you flick the Wiimote up in various directions to get different moves. Just up would be an ollie, up with a twist to the left would be a kickflip, and up with a twist to the right would be a heelflip. Other moves are done with while twisting the Wiimote in different ways during the ollie flick, and grinds are done in the usual style of just making you line it up land the right way on a rail or edge, then tweaking the board with Wiimote movements. Much of the fancy stuff you could do with the right analog stick in Skate on the 360 and PS3 is done in this game with tilts and twists to the Wiimote in various directions, and overall I thought it was a good control scheme that requires some finesse and allows players to get into the game better than just a single analog stick would.
But the biggest draw is likely for those who want to try the game with the Wii Balance Board, used lengthwise rather than sideways. Here, you still hold the Wiimote, but you're only using two buttons: A to kick and gain speed, B to grab the board. Otherwise, all of those Wiimote wiggles and flicks are instead switched to your weight shifting and little nudges you'll use on the board. Lean to either side and you'll turn, and make kind of a downwards kick with one of your feet (you don't need much force) while shifting your weight forwards or backwards gets you ollies and nollies, and from there, moves come in with various tweaks to the way you shift your weight.
Is skate.it going to make the regular Skate games obsolete? Not likely. But for fun, active games on the Wii, this one looks like it'll be coming in near the top of the pile - and considering the quality of many past Wii games, it's not really saying much. And much remains to be seen at just how stripped down the rest of Skate It really is, as the demos at E3 consisted almost solely of teaching the controls and playing with them in a relatively small area, and little else. If EA can give Wii gamers an experience that's not too stripped down and still has some fun skating controls, they could have a winner on their hands. Skate It is set for release this fall exclusively on the Wii - Skate 2 is going to be an entirely different game, also scheduled for this fall, that's coming to both PS3 and 360.