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A.P.I Review: Street Skater
Developer: Electronic Arts OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Electronic Arts 1-2 Player
Game Type: Skate Boarding Memory Card
Review Date: May 1999 Dual Shock

Setting the Scene

You will find a multitude of skiing and snowboarding Playstation games already gathering dust on the shelves in your local game store but Street Skater is slightly different. It is the first skateboarding title that offers the curvatures of skate parks and concrete sidewalks to perform over 200 moves and trick combinations.

Sound & Vision

Up to the point where your skater takes to the streets the usual tried and tested formula is followed meticulously. You know the routine by now... a very brief intro using in-game footage leading into a simplistic option screen. From this point it's time to discard your Cindy Doll and Action Man, select your preferred skater and dress them up in one of the five costumes from their personal wardrobe. This time around it is knee pads, elbow covers, baggy T-shirts. Of course if you opt for the female character then it's a frilly bikini top and pants, because that's how girls dress up in most developers minds. Next up it's time to select from the ten designer skateboards. Picking a really wild style will not improve your performance but may increase your street cred.

Standing on the start line your ears get their first blast of the 'bog standard' commentator whose husky screams are kept short and to the point. "Pick up the pace!" he yells when time to next checkpoint is running down. Also he quite often shouts such utterances as "Dude!" and "Radical!", which I assume to be a complimentary remark, while this considerate guy even has the courtesy to call a "Medic!" after each fall. One never turns up... but at least the thought was there.

As soon as the countdown reaches the word 'GO!' the slammin' soundtrack raises the decibel count a few extra notches. For those in the know the tunes featured come from the instruments of the groups Less Than Jake, Plastillina Mosh, Weston, H2O, All Straight Faced, The Pietasters, I Against I and Gas Huffer. If you belong to the older generation then shut your eyes and imagine Black Sabbath crossed with Adam & The Ants and Elvis Costello.

The game is viewed from the third person perspective (behind character) with no option to switch to a skaters eye view, or indeed any other angle. This perspective doesn't pose a problem... well... not as long as you stick to the correct path. Accidentally veer off course and your skater can suddenly disappear behind a wall or a fence from where correction can be frustratingly time consuming.

Both scenery and characters are extremely colorful and fairly well animated. Venues are gradually unveiled being staged in New York, Tokyo and L.A. The street circuits pose more of a challenge as everyday obstacles litter the course such as flower beds, lamp posts, trees, steps and even cobble stone roads. Intermingled among the scenery are occasional launching pads ideal for trick moves, while most roads eventually lead to the skate parks. These areas are designed to rack up high trick points with their smooth run-ins and steep curving walls.

Playability

The gameplay and control system of Street Skater lean toward it being a pure arcade stunt racer that can be as simple or demanding as you require. There are three play modes which are Street Tour, Free Skate and Vs modes.

Street Tour event is a combination of Street and Vert skateboarding in a high speed race against the clock. At the start of each level the player is set a points target which must be reached before moving on to the next stage. Points are awarded for trick moves and completing the course within the allowed time limit. This factor leaves the player thinking... "Hmm, do I risk staying in the skate park to rack up a few extra points, or head towards the next check point with time in hand?" The decision is yours! Complete all three venues to acquire more character attributes, max out your trick level and unlock some new routes. Playing the courses again with the new characters will unlock even more secret bonuses.

Free Skate mode allows the player to practice each course as it is unlocked and attempt to beat their highest points tally. By switching the timer off each course may be scrutinised to discover the sweetest lines of each course and the best hits to launch your favorite tricks.

Although the game manual states that Vs Mode involves 'going head-to-head with a buddy' all is not as it first seems. My interpretation of head-to-head would be a split screen race against an opponent and not the turn based time trial that is actually on offer.

Control involves using the face buttons to brake, crouch and jump. The shoulder buttons are used to switch stance. To perform a trick simply press the jump button and a combination of directions. Apparently there are over 200 different variations which are dependant on your speed, the ramp and the directional buttons you press. Further tricks may be performed by riding along structures such as benches, rails and wall ledges.

Opinion
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: 16/20 This is not a bad effort from EA. On the positive side the graphics are tidy, the music is suitable and the gameplay is fast and furious.

On the negative side we have occasional camera problems, an annoying commentator and no two player split screen mode. I would also have preferred to have seen a few more circuits.
SOUND: 7/10
PLAYABILITY: 40/50
VALUE: 13/20
OVERALL 76%

 

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