Skate or Die!

Skate or Die! is both a mantra to live by and a short-lived video game series. For a time in the 1980s you could hardly walk a couple of blocks without falling over some guys with skateboards. Seemingly realizing this, Electronic Arts cashed in and developed a ‘meta-game’ with several mini-events based on skateboarding. You get to do these events in whatever order you like or you can do them all in a kind of Skateboarding Olympics.

Most of the events are for one player at a time, where you compete for some kind of high score. In the High Jump you mash the A and B buttons to try and jump as high as you can on a half-pipe. Pretty lame, especially if you used a turbo controller like I did.

In Freestyle, you took the same half-pipe and the same ‘mash A and B to gain speed’ control scheme, but this time you added the ability to waggle the control pad and mash the A and B buttons to try and to some tricks. You do more tricks, you get more points. You only get 10 passes on the ramp, so you need to chain together as many ‘things’ as you can without crashing in a hilariously horrible way.

Jam allows you to race down a hill covered with rad-to-the-max obstacles and two (yes, two!) paths you could take: one path is shorter, but much tougher to navigate, yielding more points and a potentially faster time. I would invariably end up falling flat on my face too many times and then purposely make my skater crash into the water just off the conveniently-place dock.

Now we move on to the two-player head-to-head events. Both of them.

First is the Race. This takes place in some seedy back alley. You get to race against Lester, the son of the proprietor of the local skate shop (and former marine) to the end of the very short alley, with a path that branches in an attempt to get to the end of the race faster, but ultimately to score more points. You score points by doing very simple tricks and smashing the trash that’s scattered around the alley (you get crazy bonus points for jumping on the squad car at the end of the alley). You also have the option of punch your opponent to sabotage his run while he does the same to you. This mode is great, but is way too short.

Then there’s the Pool Joust. I don’t really like the Pool Joust. In Pool Joust, you and another skater (my favorite is Poseur Pete) skate around an empty cement pond, and one of you has a ‘bopper’ (it looks kind of like a giant cotton swab). Your goal is to use the bopper to knock the other person off of their board. After every five passes, the bopper switches between you and your opponent. You knock your opponent off his board the requisite number of times and you win.

So, yes, it’s a party game, kind of like Caveman Games only with kids on skateboards instead of cave people, and not quite so bizarre.

One Response to “Skate or Die!”

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