I’ll level with you, today’s discussion may be pretty specific. I mean it’s talking about a sub-genre that seem to be largely dead right now, after a significant peak in the late-90s and early 2000s. However the issue is I don’t really care, plus I get to talk about the utterly mediocre but greatly nostalgic California Games for my beloved Master System.
I’m not positive that California Games was what kicked off the sub-genre, but it was the first experience I have of extreme sports titles and I’m the one writing this article. As I said before the title was utterly mediocre, but at least you had a bit of variety; you had skateboarding, surfing, inline skating, BMX, ‘flying disk’ and even hacky sack. Somehow all of these felt fairly poor in my opinion, but mostly because no matter how many times I played the game I couldn’t work out how succeed for more than a few minutes.
Of course where most people jump to when thinking about these games is the Tony Hawk series, probably Pro Skater 3. Personally I actually prefer the early THUG games with their more free-roaming aspect, but if you want to look at utter arcade insanity then Pro Skater 3 is the place you need to go. Stringing together absolutely huge combos with manuals in between was incredibly satisfying, and how could you not love skating in an exceptionally skate friendly school?
The thing is for every great title there seems to be an absolutely awful one, for ever Pro Skater 3 or Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX there’s a Shred or a BMX XXX. Every genre certainly has this to some extent, but given the relatively small number of extreme sports titles there do seem to be an unusually high number of utter stinkers. I’ve no idea why this is, although perhaps it’s because it can be quite hard to balance realism with the ability to feel like a skating god.
Talking of realism, I’m not sure how I feel about the attempt at sim skating that the Skate series has made. By all accounts it’s got the sim part down pretty well, and even though the control mechanic can be tricky to master I actually think it works pretty well. My problem is just with sim games in general, if I suck too much to make an attempt at the real world activity I don’t really want to suck at it in a video game as well. Of course that’s an issue for another day. Perhaps Thursday.
Anyway let’s try not to talk too much about whether sim games in general are any good and focus on extreme sports titles. Do you like to skate with your controller? Is the sub-genre pretty much dead at this point? Was the Skate series a good direction to go? Oh and developers? Please make more Dave Mirra games, they were awesome.