The best skateboarding games always typically focus on movement, because that’s what fundamentally what skateboarding is about. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is all about the movement between tricks, and how best to link a line together. Skate involves moving the board, creating a natural depiction of how trick flips work on an actual board. The Ramp, the latest skateboarding title to release, is all about vert skateboarding and the way in which riders pump bowls and ramps to gain momentum.
It feels a little disingenuous to call The Ramp a game. By the developer’s own admission, it serves as more of a toy, providing players with the tools needed to skate a few ramp sessions in short bursts of play. The Ramp never tries to be anything more than that, which is why the game’s humble entry price of £4.79 seems more than fair.
The cost of admissions includes four ramps, a lo-fi playlist of music to skate to and a hardcore mode. It’s a slim offering, but that’s exactly what The Ramp is meant to be. Players booting the game for the first time are greeted with a tutorial, with the sole purpose of introducing the game’s unique pumping mechanic, along with how to trick and grind.
The Ramp’s pump mechanic is inspired by a technique skaters use in real life. By shifting their weight while riding, skaters can gain additional speed over certain ramps. The Ramp mimics this ability by allowing players to pump with a simple tap or hold of a button. Hold it down while travelling down a ramp and let go again to get a burst of speed . Hold it down again before hitting an incline and let go as you get there for another boost of speed. It’s a simple mechanic, but it’s a surprising amount of fun.
I skateboard in real life (or try to), and I was surprised how close the pumping mechanic replicates the feeling of doing so in reality. It’s something I’ve not really seen implemented in previous skateboarding titles, but now that I’ve played a game with it included, I kind of want to see it elsewhere. Every aspect of riding a skateboard is difficult, but video games often trivialise it so that the only really challenging part is landing tricks.
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The Ramp’s four levels include a pool, a conjoined pool, a half-pipe and a mega ramp. Each level provides a slightly different flavour of vert skateboarding, although all four still focus wholly on that discipline. The vert ramps provide the classic experience of vert skateboarding, while both pools provide a 90s feel. The pools are particularly great for getting to grips with The Ramp’s pumping mechanic, providing plenty of surface area to build up some speed.
A hardcore mode ramps up the ante slightly. With the mode toggled on, players can expect a little more difficulty landing, as The Ramp punishes players for sloppier landings. It also feels like the speed gained during is a little more restricted, creating a slightly more realistic skateboarding experience. With no points to score or challenges to beat, the hardcore mode is only really there for players who want to make their experience a little more difficult.
I think The Ramp misses a trick by not including flip tricks. While typically associated with street skating, flip tricks have always served an important place in the skateboarding world. Tony Hawk, iconic vert skater, created a number of vert flip tricks including the likes of the backside pop shove-it, the double kickflip varial indy and a kickflip McTwist. Including the ability to flip the board would not only feel more authentic, but it would add a new dynamic of tricks to use during runs.