Skateboarding games have traditionally relied on button-mashing and knob-wiggling to re-create skaters’ sickest tricks.
That began to change last year when Electronic Arts unveiled “Skate It,” which used the Wii’s motion-sensing balance board as a substitute for a real skateboard.
This year, Activision’s venerable Tony Hawk franchise joins in the action with “Tony Hawk: Ride.” The E10-rated game uses a special skateboard-shaped controller that’s loaded with accelerometers and infrared sensors that translate your motions into on-screen action.
From the start, the new board has a major edge in realism — primarily because you can fall off. However, its shape also helps it feel more like the real deal as it tilts and rocks under your feet.
The results are good, but not great. It doesn’t really do everything a real board can do and it sometimes experiences a bit of lag. This can make some maneuvers a bit trickier than they should be, leading to some frustration.
“Ride” offers a career mode in which you can learn the ropes and tackle progressively harder maneuvers and courses. It also offers free skating and a party mode for up to eight players.
I decided to check out the party mode with two sets of friends. Both groups — one of teens and the other of adults — enjoyed “Ride.” They liked the game’s competitive aspects and the ability to pull off spectacular stunts. They also enjoyed watching others go through the gyrations needed to hit tricks.
However, some of the teens became impatient with the learning curve and realized that moving the board with their hands achieved excellent results. The adults generally aimed for more realism, although several decided that gripping the back of a chair was a great help.
After these sessions, several were interested in buying the game. However, they had second thoughts when they heard the price tag — $120.
Overall, “Ride” has potential as a party game — as long as the board holds up — but control issues can make it a bit tedious on the solo circuit.
Platforms: Xbox 360 (tested); Wii (tested); PlayStation 3
On the Web:www.thride.com