Much like Madden
and other sports games lost features in the transition between the last console generation and the current one, EA's skateboarding games have been downgraded
rather than upgraded as technology has improved. Skate
on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 offers only one
option in its title (the imperative "skate") versus the two
options found in their 1987 skateboard game Skate or Die.
Perhaps in the next year's iteration, EA will be able to reinstitute the "dying" feature, although we're doubtful -- the latest skating game from the company, Skate It
, goes so far as to tell you what
to skate (it) instead of allowing you to specify the object of your skating.
Skate or Die
, for the four people who didn't play it on NES, is a skateboarding game comprising two halfpipe events, two downhill events, and a pool joust. The downhill events are obstacle courses, basically -- "Race" is a slalom down a trail in a park, with a winding paved road and puddles and potholes to avoid, and "Jam" is a race against the mohawked Bionic Lester down an alleyway. The halfpipe events include a high jump, in which players have ten passes to clear as much height as possible, and a "freestyle" competition, in which the goal is to perform tricks by messing with the buttons randomly. The pool joust is the centerpiece of Skate or Die
, a competition between two skaters in an empty pool, rolling by each other and attempting to hit one another with oars. You have the option to practice any of these individually, or "compete" in all of them.
These options are all available from a hub world of sorts: a skate shop run by Rodney Recloose, who keeps the registers for competitions, and enjoys talking about his Marine Corps tattoo ("Semper Fi or die!")
For someone who didn't have any skater friends in the late '80s, and who lived in Texas, and who didn't go outside, the entirety of skateboard culture is represented by this one goofy NES game. While I learned in high school that real skaters mostly hang out in parking lots and smoke cigarettes while failing to do ollies, I always imagined a world of giant halfpipes, battles in empty swimming pools, and colorful mohawks.
The most baffling thing about the lack of Skate or Die
on the Virtual Console is that it is
available in Europe, as of December 2007. There's been plenty
of time for Nintendo of America (or Konami, or EA) to get around to making this NES classic available. We suspect that the culprit is the original developer. While Konami has been happy to release Virtual Console games (including those published under the same "Ultra Games" name as Skate or Die
) EA is currently represented on the VC by ... nothing at all.
Virtually Overlooked is a weekly feature that spotlights games that aren't yet on the Virtual Console, but should be. JC Fletcher sat in his chair in "goofy foot" style to write this up. Want more Virtually Overlooked? Check out the first year (or die)!