Shaun's development team has clearly been inspired by Skate's FlickIt control scheme, too, although there have been a few tweaks made along the way. Hitting a button causes you to jump, for instance, which makes grinds effortless – but if you want to trick then you've got to pull the stick in various directions. Your bread and butter Ollie is still down and then up, thankfully.
But there's a clear impetus on making Skate's challenging controls more extravagant and way more accessible to the average player: rails are easier to hit, jumps are easier to trick over and it's far more probable that you'll be able to get about the place without breaking both your legs every thirty seconds.
Tricks have to be unlocked with XP, which is earned by doing tasks set to you by the game's cast of characters: rescue Bob (owner of the local skate shop, probable stoner) from the clutches of the Ministry, unlocking his store in the process, and you'll score enough cash to purchase the Hand Flip, Varial Kickflip and Laser Flip. You can also perform a selection of tweaks and grabs, as well as hold down R2 to modify your basic tricks into more extravagant (though far more dangerous) combo boosters and point scorers.
As is the way with the genre, it's all about achieving it with style. The game takes it a step further by introducing the Flow meter: dull yellows can be enlivened with a basic level 1 flow, for instance, but mottled blues can only be jazzed up by getting your combo meter high enough to reach level 2. Keep combos ticking by performing endless chains of boring Ollies and you'll get there in the end, but genuine gratification comes from manoeuvring and navigating obstacles, criss-crossing benches, grinding railings and leaping from rooftops with a gorgeous, smooth and uninterrupted action.
For the most part it works well – jumps have enough spring, grinds handle well and there's even a nice spinning meter so you can pirouette around in the air without much concern. Movement speed feels a touch slow in this preview build, though, and no matter how much I tried to accelerate my skater always had a bit too much of a hard time when it came to getting up half-pipes.
There's never the opportunity to build up as much momentum as in Skate, either, leaving the game currently devoid of its own version of the amazing and terrifying bits where the camera goes blurry and you can hear the wind whooshing past. It means you're less likely to trip on the pavement and go cartwheeling into a wall, but taking away some of the danger also removes some of the gratification from the times you do manage to get it right.
Shaun White Skateboarding is obviously trying to claw out the middle ground between Skate's genre-shifting realism and Tony Hawk's over-the-top glory days. It stays challenging while always remaining accessible, and while it lacks some of Skate's more advanced features it compensates by throwing in a ridiculously charming campaign mode and never, ever compromising on its sense of fun. There's enough promise in the opening sequence to make you forget Shaun White Snowboarding ever happened and, if the game can scale its over-the-top propensities with a player's advancing skill over the course of its 15-hour campaign, it'll be on the right track to becoming one of the most daft, ridiculous and entertaining examples of the genre.
Shaun White Skateboarding is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii on October 1.