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It’s all about speed, dude.

Tony Hawk games generally mean wild gravity-defying skateboard tricks. However, “Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam” — designed by Activision for Nintendo’s new Wii console — changes the formula in order to emphasize racing.

Players grip the motion-sensitive Wii controller horizontally with both hands and tilt it back and forth to guide the skater downhill.

Buttons are used to ollie and grind and do additional tricks that can be performed once the skater’s airborne. These earn the skater additional bursts of speed. As a result, tricks are really just a means to an end in most of the game’s events.

In a sense, the gameplay experience isn’t radically different from that of Nintendo’s new “Excite Truck” racing game. Players tilt the controller to drive and hit a few buttons at the right time for extra goodies. However, “Downhill Jam” is a lot more fun to look at and listen to.

What sets it apart are the Hawk trademarks — driving music, snarky comments, amusing situations and interesting settings. Courses include Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. Each offers its own brand of obstacles and opportunities.

There’s also the chance to smack opposing skaters — or pedestrians — as you pass them.

Graphics are pretty standard — nothing to match the high-def might of PlayStation 3, but perfectly adequate to get the job done.

Overall, the results can be fun, but don’t expect a traditional trick-laden Hawk game.


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