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Skater Nation Review for iPhone

TiG Rapid Review

Skater Nation

Almost but not quite...

I remember the good old days of University when JamieO and I would try and bend the programming of a Steep Slope Sliders demo on the Sega Saturn as way to create our own skateboarding game. This was before one of my all time hero's Tony Hawk released his 'proper' skateboarding game on the Play Station. Many devs have released skateboarding games over the years and the Hawk franchise has slowly burnt itself out only to be replaced by EA's intuitive Skate. I know it's intuitive because I have been a 'real' skateboarder for over 20 years!

There have been a few skateboarding games on the iPhone so far, most of which are appalling. Perhaps the exception to this rule is Touch Grind, which really appeals to me as both a gamer and a skateboarder. But can Gameloft quench my thirst for an EA Skate like experience on the iPhone? Lets see.

Initially I was really turned off Skater Nation, the first screenshots that came out really disappointed me due to the modelling of the characters. Unfortunately there is very little in the way of authenticity about any of the avatars. They are highly cliched and rather stereotypical of how non skaters view skaters. I wish Gameloft would re-model them with a bit more credibility, but in the fast moving world of iPhone gaming I doubt very much that an update will ever remedy this.

Skater Nation Review for iPhone
Skater Nation Review for iPhone
Skater Nation Review for iPhone
Skater Nation Review for iPhone
Skater Nation Review for iPhone
Skater Nation Review for iPhone

Skate follows the same plot most skateboarding games adhere to and surprisingly it does it rather well. The world you inhabit is vast and there are plenty of Halfpipes, Grind Bars, Fly-off ramps etc.. to unleash your flippery on. There are 10 of distinct regions in the game including, various skateparks, residential and industrial areas etc.. The city is really well thought out and you can actually approach it from a skateboarding mindset. There are a number of lines in the game that will probably be visible to actual skaters or skate game aficionados. Fortunately, this doesn't detract from the notion that gamers can have plenty of fun taking on the more obvious runs through the city.

Controlling your avatar is similar to that of the Tony Hawk franchise, Virtual D-Pad for movement and various button combo's to initiate tricks. This can prove tricky sometimes and I don't really like the double tap to do a flip trick. The timing just feels un-natural and slightly awkward. This could be solved by throwing in another button to control flips. Skater Nation runs just fine on 3rd gen hardware and the frame rate is smooth. Not sure how 2nd gen would cope although without testing this is a mere assumption.

Make no mistake, Gameloft have released some awesome games over the last few months. I doubt that there is a dev/publisher out there who can match them in terms of consistency and quality. But for me this is a slight drop below the usual standard, maybe I am too critical due to my skateboarding background?

    High Points

  • Attractive world, with plenty of depth and secret areas to discover.
  • Nice smooth frame rate, with no lag (on 3rd gen hardware)
  • Decent punky soundtrack, and good aural experience.
  • The challenges while not particularly hard are fun to complete.
  • Upgradeable items, decks etc.

    Low Points

  • Stereotypical dude factor characters
  • Controls are a bit edgy and counter intuitive.
  • Can only initiate your own music if you have a remote/mic headphones. It is fun skating to your own tunage though!

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In a nutshell

Skater Nation is a great 1st attempt at a Tony Hawk style game and Gameloft have certainly got the environment right. The world is vast and full of great things to skate, the secret spots are not really hard to find but it is nice when you come across a secret area. Skater Nation certainly provides a solid base on which to build. But, if EA or Activision decided to release either of their titles, I am confident that Skater Nation would be quickly forgotten.