Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone











With a bad  license, poor play mechanics, ugly graphics and more general  lameness than you can imagine, MTV Sports Skateboarding tries but fails miserably to emulate the success of Activision’s Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. With so many things wrong, this poorly designed THQ Dreamcast title deservedly takes it’s place at the bottom of the closeout barrel, soon to be forgotten by the gaming populace. The Laser takes a long, painful look at the title and tries to see if there are any redeeming qualities to the game. Read our review  to see if this quest was in vain.  

MTV Skateboarding is a perfect example of a ‘me-too’ game that falls far short of its inspiration in most areas and only serves to dilute what should be one of the best new gaming genres to come along in some time. From the lame MTV license (shouldn’t that be a red flag right there?) forward, this pathetic excuse for a game tries very hard but falls short in its attempt to match Tony Hawk. It fails to capture the essence of that game’s appeal. Even though MTV Skateboarding adds some interesting twists, it shamelessly copies the presentation, control scheme and level designs of Tony Hawk for the most part. Unfortunately, extremely  poor implementation ruins what might have been a solidly enjoyable title rendering it a poor imitation of Tony Hawk 1, never mind how much it pales in comparison to THPS2. Despite the problems, there are a few good points in the game but these offer little in the way of redeeming qualities. The game’s imaginative level designs make for some exciting and original skating environments but again, this is undermined by it’s own embarrassingly poor play mechanics and horrid control. While it mostly takes place in the usual locales, such as schools, skate-parks and warehouses, some of the later levels are surprisingly cool and showcase some surprising amounts of creativity. For example, there are some unique areas to traverse such as a water park and deserted train stations and one advanced area stands out especially well because it takes place in Hades. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really make MTV Skateboarding much fun to actually play – another example of a game that’s more fun on paper than in practice.  

It’s pretty standard going as you play through most of the game’s different modes. Free Skate allows you to practice tricks and lean the level layouts. Its Lifestyle Mode is the real meat of MTV Skateboarding. You take your skater up the ranks from local to national competition and unlock additional stages, skaters, boards, and clothes along the way. Obviously, this is the most time-consuming and challenging mode. Some multi-player modes are included as well which allow you and a friend to share in the misery and play the below par modes included for this as well. Sharing this nightmare with a buddy might not be such a good idea if your friends have violent tendencies or if your friendship may be on thin ice – you’ve been warned.

In addition to these almost-predictable modes, there are some interesting variations included that help the game stand out from the endless seas of extreme sports wanna-be’s. The most innovative of these are the MTV Hunt and Stunt modes. MTV Hunt is straightforward; you have to collect all the MTV logos on each level before time runs out – it’s quite challenging because you lose previously collected icons when you spill or crash, making the mode infinitely more difficult. In Survival, players start with a rapidly ticking clock and earn more time by performing tricks. Stunt mode makes the player perform special moves such as jumping off a ramp or other huge jumps. This challenging and addictive mode requires split-second timing and skill to pull off and is the most enjoyable part MTV Skateboarding. These modes are quite original and make for some interesting diversions from the main game. It’s a shame that most of the early levels are small and feel overly confined since the later levels are a lot more interesting but the poor controls mean that most players won’t bother to put in the effort to actually see them. 

The multitude of modes sounds cool initially, but the poor controls undermine MTV Skateboarding’s long-term appeal significantly – most players will probably give up on the game after an hour or so. On the surface, it seems to offer plenty of versatility with 64 different air and land- based tricks, but that’s deceptive since most of these moves are very difficult and awkward to pull off. The usual grabs, spins and ollies and some more elaborate moves are available but the tricks don’t come off as naturally as you’d want them to – and in this case, the genre demands smooth, intuitive play or it doesn’t accurately reflect the individuality of real-life skateboarding. The game feels flat and uninspired, makindg it feel less like a real skateboarder designed game than something quickly made to hastily cash in on the THPS phenomenon. While it’s cool that other skaters appear on the same level simultaneously, they just seem to get in the way and are difficult to avoid. It’s a shame that the poor controls turn the extensive move list and on-the-course traffic into problems when they should have been positives. MTV Skateboarding’s control is clunky and awkward, making even basic movements overly difficult, lacking the intuitive feel that made Tony Hawk so inspirational for gamers – this game tries but fails miserably in attaining the feel of the original game. The controls are incredibly annoying and since they aren’t intuitive, they cause far too many frustrating crashes for no real reason and makes the gameplay go from annoying to aggravating in a hurry. This gives the gameplay a poor flow, which hurts it significantly, making this a giant step backward for the genre. No matter how much you practice, it never seems to get any easier to control the skaters. Additionally, the advanced trick controls are even more awkward and counter-intuitive than the standard moves, making all but the most basic grabs and spins nearly impossible to perform with any regularity. Grinding along rails is also particularly annoying since a meter appears on the screen, limiting the amount of time you can grind thus sucking most of the fun out of this trick. The physics model is below par because you never have a good sense of gravity or actually controlling the skater. This makes timing landings and chaining tricks an almost impossible task and makes playing much more frustrating than it should be.

MTV Skateboarding’s control issues would be bad enough on their own but the visuals fail to meet even basic standards and expectations for most Dreamcast titles. The overall presentation is startlingly close to Tony Hawk, right down to using eerily similar camera angles when the skater jumps. Its unoriginal visual approach only makes MTV Skateboarding’s visuals seem that much worse. The game’s engine further suffers from an inordinate amount of pop-in and an extremely erratic frame-rate that show all the hallmarks of a rush job. Another major visual flaw are the N64-esque fogging problems that occur in some areas, this on a console that rarely suffers this problem. Even worse, the skaters don’t immediately recover from crashes, they just stop and fall to the ground with barely passable transition animations. These ‘crash’ animations look terrible and the accompanying pause destroys any flow or momentum you may have built up. The skater models are also embarrassingly simple and blocky in design, lacking the natural fluidity and realism of Tony Hawk’s models. Just to add fuel to the fire, the game’s soundtrack is derivate and unoriginal, featuring a similar roster of ska, hip-hop and, alternative bands – the music isn’t half-bad in and of itself. Unfortunately,  its so similar to that used in THPS, it only serves to make the comparisons more direct between the two games, and makes the player highlight how defiecient the game really is in most areas. 

In the end, MTV Skateboarding has no real appeal or originality outside a few gameplay gimmicks that add little to the game. The game’s more interesting, slightly original modes are fun for about 5 minutes, but once the novelty wears off, the basic problems of poor controls and ugly graphics are hard to overlook. For example, the stunt mode seems really interesting at first, but it’s a situation where you have to do the same stunt a million times before you get it right – if you have the endurance to, that is. Skating game fans should avoid this fun-free disaster like the plague. Don’t be fooled by the cool sounding modes on the back of the box, MTV Skateboarding is a cheap, me-too title and deserves its current place at the bottom of the bargain bin. Its poorly implemented and fails to replicate the masterful, intuitive feel of Tony Hawk Pro Skater to any real degree. MTV Skateboarding’s poor graphics and awful controls suck out any fun the extra modes might have offered. On the bright side, sometimes it takes horrible games like this to truly appreciate how good Neversoft’s Hawk series truly is.