Any city-dwelling skater worth his or her grip tape has been harassed by either security guards or non-skating citizens who feel the need to make sure parking lots, picnic tables and handrails are only used for their expressed purposes. That’s the irony of being a skater — the best places to ride are the areas where people usually abound. Skate It creates a virtual world in which skaters hear no complaints at all from authority figures, because there aren’t any people at all. San Vanelona has gone through a disastrous earthquake, meaning the city’s empty but skate spots are plentiful.
That’s where Career mode starts in EA’s version of Skate for the Wii, as your character befriends seemingly the only person in San Van, a loudmouthed character who just happens to be a skateboard-loving camera guy. Before you start Career mode, Skate It gives you the opportunity to choose from three different ways to play: with the Wiimote, the Remote/Nunchuk combo, or the Balance Board.
We picked the Balance Board first to see if it handled like a 2008 skateboard or one from the early 1980s, and it didn’t take us long to find out it was closer to the latter. One of the real strengths of Skate It is the tutorial feature, which forces players to really learn how to pull off most major tricks before starting Career mode. While the Balance Board is okay, we found that meshing steering and trick-pulling proved too frustrating to get through the entire tutorial without changing instruments. Part of the problem lies in EA’s decision to give the Board six different sections for the player to press down on with their feet to complete different tricks. It’s an interesting idea, but the execution seemed inconsistent. Along with extremely sensitive steering and still having to handle the Wiimote at the same time, the idea of completing more than a couple of challenges using the Balance Board was quite intimidating.
Using the Wiimote by itself made tricks and steering easier, as the “Flick It” system used in Skate translates nicely to the Wiimote, which is in effect flicked itself. Flick the front of the Remote up quickly to Ollie, drop it down to Nollie. Other assorted flicks and twists will help pull off other tricks like Shuv-its and flips, and steering is done by turning the Wiimote from side to side. While the entire package was far easier than the Balance Board, we still found using the Remote/Nunchuk combination the least cumbersome, as spinning in the air was excessively awkward using just the Wiimote alone but very comfortable with the Nunchuk’s analog stick.
Once you’ve selected your favorite method of play and passed all the tutorials (with help from your new cameraman friend, whose comments run the gamut from encouraging advice to impatient mockery), it’s time to start attacking those challenges. You can either do the bare minimum to advance by “owning” a challenge or score more respect by going the extra mile and “killing” the challenge. The more respect you get, the more props you get from pro skaters like Danny Way and Rob Dyrdek, and the better your chances are of getting noticed by high-profile sponsors (many of the top skate companies are represented in the game). The challenges and journey your character takes are very detailed and extensive, and will take you away from your barren wasteland of a hometown to places like Paris and Shanghai.