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iPhone  header logo

Skate It

For: iPhone

Bails badly

Product: Skate It (iPhone) | Developer: Exient | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: Sports | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.70
Skate It (iPhone) iPhone, thumbnail 1
EA has been piling the pressure on virtual skateboarding front-runner Tony Hawk for some time now.

While the veteran series has millions of fans and the backing of the most famous boarder on the face of the planet, Skate It offers the fresh ideas that only a newer game series can provide.

Originally released for Nintendo DS, this iPhone and iPod touch version is an attempt to flip some of that inventive goodwill onto the iDevices. Unfortunately, it bails midway through this tough trick.

Kick flip to glory

Yet from the outset it seems to get a lot right. There’s a decent tutorial mode to guide you through the controls, you can kickstart your own boarding career, and you're also given the chance to freestyle your way around the various locations.

Graphically it’s not the most alluring game in the world, but it’s hardly what you would call ugly. The skaters themselves are awkward-looking and seem to levitate on their boards rather than stand on them, but the environments are expansive and packed with neat details.

Still, Skate It bails when it comes to controls.

To put it bluntly this is one game that doesn’t benefit at all from being ported to iPhone and iPod touch. In pursuit of doing something different, EA Mobile has crafted an unsatisfying combination of touch and accelerometer controls.

Fingers and thumbs

Activities such as pushing off, grabbing the board and performing ollies (jumps to you and me) are achieved using the touchscreen.

The trick system revolves around swipes; for example, moving your finger up the screen will result in an ollie, whereas moving it down will result in a nollie (basically a jump where the board is angled nose-downwards).

Variations on these swipes result in slightly different tricks. Compliment these with grabs, turns and grinds, and it becomes clear that the complexity of the game is totally unsuited to such an inconsistent interface.

All too often you find that swipes are mistaken for other moves or that you simply don’t have enough time to both tilt your device and draw shapes on the screen.

Prolonged practise can remove some of the frustration caused by the interface, but it takes much longer than it should to become even slightly comfortable with the controls.

The daily grind

Simple put, iPhone games are all about instant gratification and quick thrills, and Skate It requires too much from you for it to be enjoyable. Even when you’ve invested hours trying to master the eccentricities of the board, you never really feel like you have full control.

So while it’s great to see every conceivable genre catered for on Apple’s devices, there’s no denying that such a complicated set up is ill-suited for a machine which doesn't features physical buttons or controller.

Skate It
isn’t a terrible game – the original DS version was pretty playable – yet, attempting to transfer that the experience to iPhone, EA has lost sight of what made it fun in the first place.
Skate It
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 15 May 2010
Skate It takes the good work of the Nintendo DS version and effectively jams it into the iPhone with little concern for control complexity, yielding a disappointing and frustrating skateboarding simulation
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