Lunchtime Discussion: Extreme Sports

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.



  1. C.G without doubt was absolutely stunning!

    Myself, my bros and my friends [some of] used to Skate as youngsters. Aggressive Inlines which I stil have, we used to ride in Salomons and Argons..those were the days.

    We used to hammer ‘Rolling’ and ‘Aggressive Inline’ for PS2 which I still have. Good Games, really good games…

    Nothing will ever touch THPS2 though….

    • Thank you! I was going to write about Aggressive Inline (cause it’s awesome) but couldn’t remember the name for the life of me!

  2. Though I disliked the series at first, this year I actually decided to get some proper hands on with the Skate games. They are a little tricky to get into, but once I had tweaked the settings and my own skater, I haven’t looked back.

  3. We really could do with another SSX. Its been way too long and, IMO that was the Pinnacle of snowboarding games and possibly extreme sports games in general.

    • SSX is amazing.

      • Yup, SSX3 is one of the best games ever

        Shaun White Snowboarding was just wrong and it didn’t nail a feel of speed and landing jumps just felt all weird.

        Here’s hoping EA do two things

        1) Release an EA Replay area on the PSN Store with the best of their back catalogue available… well SSX3, SSX Tricky, Road Rash 1 & 2 and NHL 2002
        2) Make an SSX4

  4. BMX XXX! Hahaha game of the year, that one.

    • I was actually looking for Dave Mirra and BMX XXX came up. Had to include it as full of awful.

    • Oh god I remember that. How could I not as an adolescent teen :-p

  5. Kelly Slater’s Pro surfer reminded me of the surfing bit in California games but not in a good way.

    It’s maybe a bit leftfield and tenuous, but Pilotwings wins my vote as the best extreme sport game ever. I could play that game all day, even in 2010.

  6. Skate 2 is one of my greatest time wasters of all time. I have half an hour or so on it 3 or 4 times a week, I just find skating round finding things to skate on a sublime experience. Takes me back to my youth but with a lot less fighting.

  7. To quote Foxhound_Solid

    “Nothing will ever touch THPS2”

  8. My mind actually jumped straight to THPS2… it had everything – the coolest skaters, a great soundtrack, fantastic levels, great combos and controls. It was excellent.

    I also really enjoyed Dave Mirra BMX.

    MX2002 (motorcross game) was great too – especially when you learnt how to do huge bunny hops by dumping the clutch at full throttle etc. so you could basically climb all over the levels and find jumps on top of buildings etc.

  9. I used to love the Tony Hawk games, but felt they were getting stale so was looking forward to how skate would breath some life into the genre but could not for the life of me get away with the controls. I recently rented Shaun whites skateboarding and really enjoyed it, the controls are half way between skate and TH.

  10. No mention of Matt Hoffman on the PS1 ???? It kicked Dave Mirras ass lol

    • I don’t know if I mean Dave Mirra or Matt Hoffman now, it was a long time ago.

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