Skate (or how I relapsed and reverted to age 13)

January 09, 2008

Skate is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing games I've ever played, and certainly the greatest skateboarding game of all time. In fact, playing it while back home a couple of weeks ago compelled me to finally pull the trigger on an Xbox 360 Elite.1

As I've discussed briefly here before, I haven't really owned a console since ~1998,2 mostly because of my addictive personality, perfectionism, general competitiveness, and preternatural gaming skills which demand that I be great at the games I play.  ;)

Allow me to elaborate. Though I don't talk about them much here, video games used to be a pretty big part of my life (like every kid growing up in the 80s/90s I suppose), and it's always been too easy for me to get wrapped up in being the very best at any game that catches my interest (umm, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, 19XX, any and every racing game, Killer Instinct, anyone?). Fully cognizant of this predisposition, over the last many years I have usually resisted altogether the temptation and desire to play video games, lest other attention-demanding interests suffer.

To put it quite simply, gamer regret kind of consumed me at some point a few years ago, and if I wasn't learning or producing something, I felt I was wasting time.

Alright, enough with the defense of my video game dry spell, let's get back to Skate. This game just works, mostly because it totally rethinks the control scheme (i.e., most everything is accomplished through the "flicking" of one joystick, combined with the movement of the other), and in a way that is as analogous to real skateboarding as anything I've ever seen, which is all the more impressive in light of the fact that the controller has nothing to do with your legs and/or feet.

There is definitely a steep learning curve, but once you're on the other side of it, the possibilities are endless, and the technical control you have over the skater is mind-blowing. It's nothing short of brilliant. When you bust, you're OK with it, because you know that you, not the game, screwed up. It's hard to put that sentiment into words, but trust that it's a neat feeling.

As I said to a friend not long after getting the hang of the game, I may actually use it to create movies of tricks I could do as a teenager3 (you know, to show to whomever I can convince to feign interest in them). Speaking of movies, the replay/movie-making system is fantastic, and the control you have over the replay video really lets you dissect the physics of the game, which are about as spot-on as you could want (though, admittedly, the falls could be much more realistic, but I guess that's kind of a moot point).

If you've ever had any real-life interest in skateboarding and have a predilection for video games, you almost have to buy Skate.

Oh, before I forget, I have to mention that the best part about me picking up an Xbox is that the girlfriend is really excited about yet another demand on my time! Poor thing, she really has no idea the volume of this can of worms.


  1. Wondering why I didn't get a PS3? First of all, I couldn't care less about the whole Blu-ray/HD-DVD debate (I've never bought a regular DVD, and am certainly not going to start down that path now; I find it odd that it's 2008 and people still consume media through expensive plastic discs), so the fact that Blu-ray (Sony's baby) has effectively "won," makes zero difference to me. Second, there is no Xbox LIVE equivalent on the PS3. Third, Xbox has a larger selection of games that I want to play (though I will surely long for Gran Turismo 5 when it ships). Fourth, the downloadable games available through Xbox LIVE Arcade are awesome. And finally, I like that I can rent HD movies through the Xbox; this, together with Amazon unbox (which doesn't currently have HD movies) on the TiVo, is a pretty nice combination.   

  2. As a "compromise," I allowed myself to keep up with all of the handheld "consoles" (i.e., every iteration of the Nintendo Game Boy and DS, and the Sony PSP), plus the random computer game every now and again. So yeah, I haven't been completely divorced from gaming all these years.   

  3. I still skate from time to time, but it's nothing like what it was for me from ages 5-20, when I had zero fear, nothing to lose, and something to prove (e.g., that I could land a varial kickflip up four stairs, etc.).   

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