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Written by  :  piltdown_man (156521)
Written on  :  Apr 11, 2014
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Surprisingly challenging, yet accessible and most of all it's fun

The Good

Before reviewing the game I'm going to say a bit about me because it puts my comments into context. If you're not interested then just skip to the next paragraph.
I am not a fan of consoles, to me they have always been toys that the kids played on when they got home from school and computers are real gamer's use. Recently, however, I got a load of PS1 and PS2 games and I've started playing them. So what makes me, a grumpy, sixty-year old, pc fan want to write about a PS2 game?
Well, I've played PS1 & PS2 games for the first time ever this year and so far I have played around twenty. I've played racing games, football games, wrestling games, flying games, management games and simulations, which is a fair cross section and this is the first one where I had real fun.

This game sort of sucked me in. There are a string of short tutorials, each showing a different move. The fact that they are short and focused helps because personally I liked the feeling that I was progressing and learning something, until this week I had no idea what skitching or a manual move was.
So I got sucked in. Some moves I could master quickly, I mean the really basic stuff here but the important thing is that the pace felt right. Other moves took some time to master but they never felt impossible and the way they were set up, the success of the earlier lessons, had me motivated to want to master this move, and then the next, and the next.

The game has music, and here my age is going to show because to me it's just a rhythmic noise that I turned off. Having said that there are some named bands in this game and the quality of the sound is there, it's just not to my taste.

Visually the game is good. It's not stunning and there were no moments of jaw dropping beauty but that's not what this game is about. The characters move well. There is a feeling of fluidity, a feeling of speed when they skate and a naturalness in their movements which I liked. They seem to have their own styles too in the way they stop, turn, and handle themselves which is something that I didn't appreciate until I'd played as three or four characters.
The environments look good too. I'm still on the first level, and I may never get good enough to unlock the later levels, but I have seen the others and they all 'feel' right. The flags wave, the water splashes into the fountains, the traffic looks as though someone cared when they designed it, It's not so good I go 'Wow!' when I play but it's good enough to get noticed.
The level design is challenging too. I tried playing the Movie Lot level after I'd mastered a few basic moves thinking that the first level would be an easy introduction. Then I spotted the power ups, they are at least fifty feet up in the air so it was back to the tutorials to learn how to vault and spin around metal poles so I could reach that high.

A big plus for me is that the game plays on a pc using an emulator, so there's no messing about with the television.

Other console games I have played have had more depth, or should I say more features. For example in some games points can be used to buy more equipment, characters can be created and customised to a ridiculous degree before being developed through an extensive career mode, some games have shelves of trophies to be won, others multiple leagues to compete in, while others combine playing a sport with team management options.
There is none of that here and yet, for me at least, less is more.

The Bad

This game relies on the player being able to remember a string of button combinations and to be able to perform them intuitively while looking at the screen. There is really no other way the game could be made to work and it's a problem for me because my thumbs don't move fast enough. It's not strictly a game problem, it's a me problem, but it does mean that I'll probably continue playing the game to a point and then I'll abandon it.

The music is not to my taste and there's no way to change it, also there's not really much in the way of in-game sound effects. Having said that I would not buy the game for the in-game music or to hear birds tweeting.

The Bottom Line

It's not going to change your life. It does not do anything especially new but it is fun, and it is challenging. If my co-ordination was good enough I could see me playing this game through to the end and then replaying it with bigger combo's to try and get a better score. As it is I am enjoying messing about on the lower levels.