Skate or Die!
At a Glance: Smooth move, X-lax. Dude, you just got yourself into the heaviest competition of wheel on concrete that you'll ever see with your own two eyeballs. You better cut that hair of yours, dude. Get yourself a nice respectable mohawk or these dudes will turn on you like nothing. You can't walk around here looking like a yuppie. You have to come in here fresh, come out elite, and smooche all the fly chicks along the way. In here it's not some kind of poser playground, dude. In here you got to be solid. In here you got to skate or die, homey!
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 64k
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Game Plot: You're arriving on the scene like one of those things from Aliens dudes; ice cold and without a face. Your first stop in this nondescript West Coast area is a skate shop to scope out the local scene. Inside is some butt ugly dufus with a mohawk that won't stop yappin' at you about his boppers or whatever. From here you can sign up for a competition, go practice the events individually, or view the high scores. Since you're no airhead, you sign up immediately.
Exiting the skate shop, you suddenly realize that your feet have been replaced with steel beams. Although not stated directly in the game manual or in-game, it obviously must have happened because moving your character is like bending metal with your bare hands. How can you get horizontal with any dudette when you move like such a Melvin? Bogue, game developers, way bogue.
From outside you can clunk all the way to any of the events for practice or just go straight to the competition. Strapping on your walkman with Huey Lewis', "it's hip to be square" pounding in your eardrums, you head off to the first event. The game starts you off with the freestyle competition. In this event you have to show this half-pipe and the audience your trippendicular style by performing 360 spins, grinds, air grabs, and foot plants. Notice I say "have to" but not "will". If controlling a skateboard is this hard it completely explains why I see so many dweebs spazzing out when they finally land on ollie during lunch hour at the high school.
After the freestyle you move on to the high jump competition. Be careful, because the controls completely change from the freestyle to the high jump. I cannot express how bad to the bone awesome it is to have a 100% control change without a good warning, especially a control change like that in the freestyle jump that requires you to move your d-pad in a circular motion. Doing this on a keyboard is pretty heinous. Does wiggling really make you jump higher? Then why do I have to pull a total asteroids slamdance freakout in order to get a good high jump?
Jam and Race are similar, with the only difference between the two is that the Jam has you duking it out with another skate boarder and you can run into more things. The event between these two is the Joust, pitting you against one of three skating masters like Rocky III. Beat these last events in style and you'll be a master blaster, the new McRib sandwich of the skating world. Or you'll just be booted back to the main screen. Lame.
Enemies: Your enemies include gravel, corners, bumps, shoe laces on the ground, fences, sudden gusts of air, and your scumbag dad. Also controls as complex as trying to solve a Rubik's Cube on XTC.
Weapons: The only weapons you have or need is your skateboard. You have no power ups, no special shield items, collectible swatch watches, or even those little robots from "Batteries Not Included" to help increase your boards abilities. In fact, this game is completely barren of any reason to go through it again. Although I appreciate the authenticity of Ultra's research into the skating scene of the 1980s, where is the replay value? I mean, c'mon dude, where's the beef?
Levels: There's nothing as bogus as levels in skate or die, just a nonstop wicked hardcore thrash-o-rama. You get no time to "recoup" when you're grinding your way straight into a jam or a joust. All you got is just enough time to bust 'em like Robocop then get the heck out of Dodge before the Five O arrive.
Bosses: Closest thing to bosses in Skate or Die is Poseur Pete, Aggro Eddie, Lester in the pool joust. These three dipsticks are the only guys brave enough to challenge you in this deadly game of paddles and pools. The rest were too busy playing with their joysticks and crying to their mommies. Poser Pete is a little punk who "is just starting to learn", so you naturally can deck him pretty easily. Aggro Eddie is a bit of a tougher nut to crack while Lester is super duper hard and a total penis breath. But nothing will make you feel better than slapping that doofus in the back of the head, turning to his limp body and letting out a smooth burn like "Nice play, Shakespeare!"
Defining Moment: When I stopped using any and all of the lingo in this review. Screw you '80s, screw you.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).