UnReviews:The Simpsons Skateboarding
One word is enough to sum up what The Simpsons Skateboarding is all about. And that word is- CRAP. That's right, people, the Simpsons Skateboarding is one of the crappiest games ever released for the PS2. It's a disgrace compared the skateboarding games currently out on the market, and will probably go down in history as one of the worst games ever made. It falls flat in pretty much every area where a game can fall flat. It looks terrible, its controls are a pain in the ass, its gameplay is generic and uninspired, its music is nothing to write home about, and its dialogues make even the dullest Simpsons episodes seem like laugh riots. Still want to know more about the game? Well, read on.
First of all, let me answer an obvious question that must be inside your head- is this game a Tony Hawk's rip-off? Absolutely! There is virtually no originality in this game's concept! However, what is really remarkable is how this game cannot even rip Tony Hawk's off the right way.
You start off the game by selecting your skating character. Initially, you'll only be able to choose between the members of the Simpson family i.e Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa. However, as you progress in the game, more and more characters, such as Otto and Officer Wiggum, get unlocked.
Once you're done with the character selection, it's time to move on to the levels. There are three parts to every level in the game- the "Skillz School", the "Skatefest", and the "Timed Trick" challenge. All of them feature very generic tasks for you to do, providing nothing unique or interesting enough to keep your attention.
Let's start with the "Skillz School", or tutorial of the game. In theory, there's nothing wrong with starting every level with a tutorial. However, this game's tutorial is so badly designed that it not only pushes your patience to the limit, but also provides almost no real help to those new to the game. Each task for the tutorial is loaded individually, meaning you'll have to bear with the loading screen before each and every lesson you learn. What makes this particularly annoying is that some tasks actually take longer to load than to complete! For instance, the very first tutorial in the game teaches you how to do an ollie. This basically involves pressing the X button four times. It takes a couple seconds to complete, but a good 30 seconds to load! Same goes for all the other tutorials.
The "Skatefest" is almost an exact copy of the collection and traveling missions you did in Tony Hawk, and the "Timed Trick" is a rip-off of Tony Hawk's time trial mode, where you need to score a given amount of points in a set time limit. However, as the tutorials are spread out between the ten levels of the game, beginners will find it near impossible to complete the "Timed Trick" challenge early on in the game, as they haven't learned how to perform the tricks that will fetch them the required points. It's a real shame that the developers were this lazy in developing the tutorial, given how important tutorials are in video games.
However, it's the actual level designs and controls are where the game really takes a nosedive. A shorter list would describe what is not wrong with them. The grinding lines in the game are limited and rudimentary, hence completely screwing up your chances of scoring good combos. The trick controls are such a pain to handle that it's near impossible to pull off the fancier (and more scoring) tricks, and even the simpler commands are hard to execute as the game is so damn unresponsive. On the other hand, the circular rotations are a Herculean task to manage just because the inputs for this task are so damn sensitive! The way the game's controls screw up pretty much everything you try to do is an achievement in itself.
Pulling off mid-air tricks from the end of a half-pipe has also become an involved chore, thanks to how inconsistent and unpredictable the game tends to become. There's no reliable way to judge your ollie height, as the camera zooms all over the place the moment you jump from the end of the half-pipe. A glitchy collision detection system causes the character to bail for no clear reason whatsoever, making it pointless to rely on your sense of timing as you'll probably bail anyway. Even on flat surfaces, my character couldn't pull off a simple 360 flip no matter how many times I juiced up his jump stats, so good luck trying to land any mid-air tricks without tossing your controller away in frustration.
Like I mentioned before, you have to bear loading screen after loading screen for each and every tutorial in the game. In fact, you have to bear with two--that's right, TWO--back-to-back loading screens upon starting up the game. Now, you may be thinking-if this game has so many loading screens which persistently increase the time I'm wasting on it, won't it have vast levels and highly detailed locales that are taking up so much time to load up?
Well, vast areas, yes. Detailed areas-absolutely not! Though the levels are big, and there are lots of places to go to, the game features some of the most primitive, blocky and sub-standard 3-D graphics I have ever seen. While the character models themselves are decent 3-D approximations of their animated counterparts, the environments are extremely bland, generic, and poorly designed. There is a thorough lack of detailing throughout, meaning that every tree, bush and vehicle of the game looks exactly the same. Even the lighting does nothing to improve the bland and lifeless experience of skating around the locales. I can think of countless PS1 games that have better graphics than this game.
The animations of the characters are also robotic, dull, and lifeless. You feel absolutely no excitement watching the characters performing various tricks in the game because of how tacky and fake all their movements seem. If everything is so dull and uninspired, why even bother trying to advance through the various locales, or unlock new characters?
The music of this game is generic and unremarkable. While it's not exactly irritating or annoying, it does little to hold your interest, and provides little to no relief from the excruciating gameplay experience. However, the dialogues in the game only add to the disappointment and annoyance you feel while playing it. Though there are a lot of one-liners thrown around when you bump into other characters, and Kent Brockman provides a running commentary during the game, pretty
much none of the lines are funny. How can they be funny anyway, if the game developers decide to go with the line "my butt hurts" as your character's catch-phrase? There is also no sincere effort on the part of the game designers to introduce any intrinsic humor in the game's challenges and goals. Ironic, given how this game's supposed to be inspired by The Simpsons, which is a comedy.
On the whole, The Simpsons Skateboarding is a failure in every possible manner. It screws up everything that made the Tony Hawk's games so much fun to play, and it doesn't even use its license properly as it fails to recreate the cartoonish, humorous feel you got while watching the show. It is probably one of the worst skateboarding games ever released, and I think that a reputed gaming company like Electronic Arts should be ashamed of publishing it. It fails as a Simpsons game, as a skateboarding game, and last but not the least, as a rip-off.
This subject is 0.5 out of 5 stars!
That's God awful!
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