Review: Extreme Skate Adventure
Posted 06 Oct 2003 at 00:33 by Bas Oosterveld
Disney licensed games haven't exactly hit jackpot lately; lots of stale and uninspired games developed by their own intern department were released in order to be forgotten as soon as possible. This time Disney Interactive took a different approach by handing out their license to Activision for their Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure with usage of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 engine. Aiming at a younger target audience the engine was tweaked and polished by developers Toys For Bob into a user-friendly skate game dressed up in a Disney outfit.
If it is one thing that Disney excels in it is creating charismatic characters and surroundings, and so this is the case with this title. Backgrounds come from various Disney worlds such as Toy Story, the Lion King and Tarzan in respectable quality. Play with a smooth animated Simba, Buzz Lightyear, Tarzan or several other Disney characters. As a dessert, a couple of by Activision handpicked junior skaters had the honor to be in this title as characters to play with. The menus are colorful with nice frills such as short character animations on the background. This reflects the overall well nurtured visuals of the game, although there are some minor clipping issues throughout the game.
No Disney soundtrack as many would expect, instead poppy skate punk songs, alternative rock and for variation also some hip-hop have been chosen, probably to give it a more edgy extreme sports content. It may seem a little awkward seeing Simba grind on a tree branch while hearing Basement Jaxx 'Where's your head at' on the background, but, for god sake, everything is better than Phil Collins.
Gameplay is pretty similar to the 'mature' skate games, you got free ride, a career mode and the create a skater option is also present. In the career mode, called adventure mode, skate around the area and talk to characters to take on a challenge. Most assignments are timer based and you have to fulfill the favor or challenge before time runs out. Goals consist of the well-known collect S-K-A-T-E, achieve a high score as well as a couple of Disney-like objectives. A retry last goal option makes things easier if you failed the last quest, which will save you a lot of time and possible annoyance.
There are a number of multiplayer modes, one of them is the King of the Hill, where you will have to find a crown located somewhere in the stage area. He who finds the crown first will have to defend it by avoiding attacks of his opponent, who in turn will have to knock him over in order to capture the crown. Kind of like capture the flag. There is also a mode called HORSE, in this you have to score as much points as possible in a single session. When the first player is done the opponent gets the chance to beat his score. If he fails, he'll get a letter. The player who spelled the word HORSE first, loses.
Controlling the characters has been simplified so that impatience youngsters can perform tricks at ease and can learn the controls in no time. Balancing tricks are executed with one button and it shouldn't be hard to perform big combos, even if you're a newbie. If you're used to the Tony Hawk control set up, you can enable the pro setting to make things a little more interesting if you find the standard control too easy.
The younger audience aged 4-12 should have tons of fun with the game, both single as multiplayer modes. And there are of course loads of things to unlock while playing through adventure mode such as movies, players, moves, boards etc.
If you hit puberty or beyond you probably prefer Tony Hawk over Tarzan but you will have fun nonetheless, though the pro skate gamers will soon be bored with it because of the moderate difficulty level.
Developed for the junior gamers Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure is a well-done piece of work. Being a Tony Hawk clone doesn't mean that this isn't a quality title with plenty of fresh features, well worth of giving it a try.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Tony Hawk in a Disney coat for the youngsters.
Real life kids as characters
Fun multiplayer modes
THPS 4 engine
Still a clone