Skate or Die! – Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Publisher: Ultra Games
Release Date: 1988
Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10
Reviewed by: bbpower
Grab your board, dudes and dudettes, it’s time to rock out on some half pipes and downhill runs! Skate or Die! is a skateboarding adventure worth scoping out. It used to be regarded as one of the best skating games of all time and to the faithful many to the NES, it still is. I, for one, have been playing this game nearly my entire gaming life.
In the eighties and nineties, skateboarding was incredibly popular, and still is today. Konami saw the potential market and developed Skate or Die!; a video game catered to the skaters and fans alike across the world. They succeeded in this highly-popular NES release. This game was hard to play when I was a kid and it still is busting me up today. The concept is easy, but for a skating game, this platform made it labor-intensive to get down and play the game well. There are a lot of buttons to memorize, but it’s doable. It is almost a too-ahead-of-its-time game for the controller at hand, but still enjoyable and once you get it down you will be busting tricks on the regular. This game just takes warming up to get there and some tolerance to handle complex controls.
In this epic adrenaline-rush game, players can choose from five events to compete. Within those five events, there are two ramps events; the Freestyle Ramp and the High Jump. There are two downhill events; Downhill Jam, and Downhill Race. Finally the last even is the Pool Joust. The two ramp events are single player mode levels, whereas the Pool Joust, the Downhill Jam, and the Downhill Race are 2-player levels.
Players start off in Rodney’s skate shop. He looks like a wacky variation of Rodney Dangerfield. Rodney was a wacky guy… if you ever saw the movie Caddyshack you know what I am talking about. Anyways, from his shop you can “Go Practice”, or “Go Compete.” I love how Konami developed two sections, because this game is hard in the beginning! I spent most of my time practicing before I even thought about doing a live event. Also in the shop, players can see the high score and scope out a poster on the wall. Maybe your picture will be on there someday if you have the talent. Also, to compete, you can sign in so your scores will be tracked. Rodney’s son Lester is also introduced in this game. You will compete against him in the higher level competitions. Now, for a break down of the events you can rip up.
As for Ramp Events, the Freestyle Ramp objective is to execute as many tricks as possible in the allotted ten passes. Players can spin, grind, and do hand and egg plants to boost scores. Switch up the moves and try to hold them for as long as possible to get the most points. This is tough, but you must press the forward buttons to get speed and press A to launch off. Be sure to be square, or you will wipe out! The half pipe is tough to get a handle on the controls and how to land without busting your stuff.
The High Jump is similar to the Freestyle Ramp, but your main objective is to jump as high as possible. So, get the controls down and get some good air in this somewhat uneventful challenge.
Now, the downhill events are a little more complicated. The Downhill Jam can get crazy! Buttons differ and you have to navigate through a downhill obstacle course. On the way down you can hit glass, police cars, and large bottles. Each one is worth a chunk of points, hit as many as you can to get the high score. The goal is to get to the bottom as quickly as possible. On the way down, players can punch and kick each other, so use the A button and a directional (left, right, up, down) to make your opponents eat the pavement. Stay away from the grass or you will fall. Jump over obstacles to avoid slowing down or crashing.
The Downhill Race is purely a race to the bottom, but players can still get points on the way down. So, keep a sharp eye on point opportunities and bust up some other skaters on the way. Use the control pad to control you and the A button and directional to turn/duck/jump. I told you the controls are complicated! However, not all events are hard to get down. The next one is entertaining for you and a friend.
Now, for a more mad adventure, the Pool Joust is a fun 2-player game. Two skaters are in an empty pool. One of you start off with a bopper. Players have five seconds to hit the other person to score a point. Once the five seconds is up, the bopper is passed to the next person for their go. Jousting can get competitive, especially if you have a friend you like to game with. Give it a try! This game seems lame, but with a couple beers in you, it could get entertaining for a bit. Even without beers, it is still a challenge.
In my opinion, the controls are very complex for this a game of its age. Without a manual to go with it, I would have had a hard time figuring out how to rock the half pipes and soar the downhills in style. Also, the controls are different based upon if you ride “goofy” or “regular” footed. I give mad props though for the design of the game and controls. The folks at Konami used their noodles to maximize the two buttons and directionals to get the most out of this game. The complex controls made this game much more versatile and for that I thank them. I now know why it was hard for me to get this game down at five and six years old.
After playing this game countless times over the years, I still think it deserves a Nerd Rating of 6 out of 10. The music is great for its time and the game requires some practice before you can get it figured out, which I like. It took me a bit to knock off the rust, but I ate up a few hours pretty easily in an effort to master the game. So, grab your board, maybe a buddy, and fire up this game for some mad air and some gnarly tricks.
This game is still regarded as a very popular NES title, but is often overlooked because of its incredibly low price and regular sightings at all game shops. It was so successful, though, it brought on two sequels; Skate or Die 2 and Ski or Die. I highly recommend checking out Skate or Die 2 for a good time.
Skate or Die! is the definition of a bargain game. When I say true bargain, it is a two dollars, or less at game shops. For that price you cannot go wrong! I am sure you have enough buco dolores spread about your house, or under your car seat to go pick it up. So, snag this title for dirt cheap and enjoy. Game On!
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