Talk to anyone who has ever played a video game, and chances are you’ve played at least one in the Tony Hawk series. As a brand, it’s huge, with nine official releases and a handful of additional Spin-offs. Activision and Robomodo recently unveiled their recent development: Tony Hawk: RIDE, the game that boldly rips the proven controller out of the hands of players and throws them instead on a very real board. Now I’m not a professional skater (I did one or the other Kickflip a few years ago), but I really wanted to jump and try.
The Tony Hawk games have recently received mixed opinions. While the 8 project was considered quite large, Proving Grounds was seen a little less. More importantly, the Tony Hawk games have grown slowly and steadily and have never really thrown anything new into the mix. Fortunately, Activision, Robomodo and the Falcon themselves came together and decided that it was time for this Genre to have its own device (well, if you can ignore SEGA’s coin-op Arcade top Skater). Very simple, the board is designed for everything. Although the default commands are still smartly hidden to the side to negotiate menus, the in-game board does almost all the work. Visually it resembles the room, with a neat wing pattern on the surface and as close as possible to the same size and shape of a real board. We are promised that the final look of the card will have a Griptape-like finish rather than the relatively smooth demo cards.
Robomodo has ensured that the board reacts as accurately as possible to the actual skating movements; two accelerometers inside are used to detect the three axes of movement; flat rotation, forward and backward oscillation and forward and backward tilting. In addition, four infrared sensors adorn the front, back and sides to detect the clamps and push the board. I was wondering how they were making the Board move, until I saw Robomodo Chairman Joshua Tsui slip his foot on the Board, like a real one.
That’s right, it’s time for me to try. Like me, you may feel a little silly when you pretend to be slipping on a carpet, but once you move, everything happens naturally. At first, you stand sideways with your hind foot on the back lip of the board, while the other is closer to the center. The board was swinging very comfortably under my feet on the soft mat (note: mat not included) and my character reacted well at first. “Try pulling a textbook for about fifty feet,” Tsui tells me. No problem, I moved my weight slightly backwards and gently lifted the front of the board into the air. Unlike previous Hawks, where balance was a non-contextual controller issue, RIDE reacts directly to your map Position. that is, if your balance is good, it is also that of your character. Mine, it turns out, is not as good as I thought, with a weak thirty feet was all I could do before I lost my balance.
The next task was a rocking ride on a bridge. What was once a simple push of a button to jump is now a strong push to the back of the board – just like a manual, but faster. The same applies to the lathe itself, where tilting and tilting affect the type of lathe chosen. Unfortunately, I could not do it, but I was lucky enough to redeem myself. There is no fancy movement to grind, just Ollie the plank on the rail. It’s simple. Bam, he landed for the first time, while Josh Tsui had overcooked himself. Again, you can adjust the Grind according to your board movement; if you land straight, pull out a 50-50, and if you rotate the board 90 degrees, you will fall into a Boardslide. In this regard, it works exactly as you would expect. Given the limitations of the gestures that you can perform accurately or even doably on a board, special movements like the 900 and Darklides are offered instead of a standard movement at certain points of each level.
Tony Hawk: RIDE also removed the open-world scenario in which players could move around on their boards looking for places where they could cheat along the way. Instead, if you go back to a slightly more traditional Tony Hawk style, you will face specific challenges in a confined space. It’s all good and good looking for the Trick spots that keep a button pressed while you’re sitting on a comfy couch. It’s a whole different matter to slide and balance on a board for 15 minutes to get a few Kickflips from a particularly high edge.