Skate was great. So great, in fact, that it was essential, as you'll know if you've read our 9/10 review. And it was also successful, hence the existence of Skate It on Wii. Question is, has the hardcore skater gameplay that pleased so many 360 and PS3 owners been dumbed down to cater to the family friendly Wii audience, or has EA refused to pander to the casual masses?
The answer is, unquestionably, the latter. Skate It on Wii is one of the hardest games you'll find on Nintendo's console. Why? It's the same old Wii story, we're afraid to report, which is starting to sound like a broken record. The Wii's motion sensing technology just isn't up to the job Skate It asks of it. Like getting your Jedi or Sith to perform combos in the recently released Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels, getting your skater to do what you want, when you want it, in Skate It is like getting a sloth to run the Gladiators assault course.
There are a lot of tricks to learn, which is fine, but the motions they require of the Wii Remote are not significantly different enough to make them intuitive to trigger. Ollies, nollies, manuals, shuv-its, all the classic skater tricks require movement of the Wii Remote that, while reflective of the motion the board would actually do in real life, don't allow for the kind of control required by some of the game's more difficult challenges. Get used to biting the dust: it's going to happen a lot.
In a way, you have to admire EA's refusal to make Skate It on Wii the party mini-game fest someone somewhere in the upper echelons of the company must have been tempted to create. However, its determination to make a hardcore skater game for skaters has resulted in a frustrating experience. The Flickit controls are, in theory, excellent. If you think of a pointed forward Wii Remote as a skateboard, the movements you need to do correlate to the movement a board would actually do relative to the various tricks. An ollie, for example, requires an upwards flick. A nollie requires a downward flick. A pop shuv-it requires an arc movement left or right, with a 360 pop-shuv-it requiring a circle movement. There are more, of course, many involving tilting the Wii Remote up or down (manuals), grabbing your board with the B button and then performing tweaks in the air by tilting the Wii Remote. There's a lot to learn, and it's all based on timing, which isn't a criticism, but not being able to string these tricks together intuitively because of the unresponsive technology is. We'd say the right trick came out about 70 per cent of the time, and of that only around only 50 per cent of the time did the trick come out exactly when we wanted it to.
If it's difficult to play Skate It with the Wii Remote and/or the Nunchuck (steering then governed by the thumb stick rather than tilting the Wii Remote), it's nigh on impossible to play the game with the Wii Balance Board. Here you need to shift your weight to steer and apply increased pressure on different parts of the board to trigger the various tricks. Because there are loads of tricks in Skate It, and only six pressure sensitive zones on the Balance Board, you have to switch between four trick sets with the d-pad on the Wii Remote in order to access everything.
While you can adjust the sensitivity of the Wii Balance board, it's an absolute nightmare to not only perform tricks, but to steer in the right direction. Once the novelty of actually standing on the Balance Board as if it's a skateboard wears off, and it'll wear off quickly, you'll turn it off and return to the Wii Remote/Nunchuck control system with little regret. Playing the game with the Balance Board is so bad it makes playing the game with the normal controls seem perfect.