Do you like skateboarding? Do you like video games? Okay, let me stop you before you make a terrible assumption that if you like both you’ll like Tony Hawk: Ride since the game is awful. Lots of potential, but utter failure of a game. You want to know why? Because the game doesn’t work, and when the whole point of buying a $90 game with a peripheral shaped like a skateboard is to have it function like a real skateboard and it doesn’t, you’re getting ripped off. Wanna know more. Read on for your warning.
New Controller; Same Old Problems
So the big thing about Tony Hawk: Ride is the actual controller. No, you don’t just use a standard controller like you probably want to. Instead, and because it seems like every developer thinks we want “realistic” games, we get a controller that actually looks like a real skateboard. Just, you know, without the wheels. The Ride controller is stood upon and used to perform all the tricks that “real” skateboarders can do, such as ollies, grinds, and grabs, plus some other jargon I’m not even going to attempt to pretend like I know (“Late 360 shove-it to boneless!”).
As you watch your character on screen move, you can adjust the controller to make him do something, like hop, by doing the correct motion on the board. Despite the fact that the whole point of the board controller is meant to make it more real, you do not have to flick the controller out from under your feet and then land on it again. You just tilt back and forth until your on-screen character does something that may or may not be a trick (faceplants are not tricks, though they look just as cool).
The Problem Is Deeper Than Commitment
I could care less how good the game looks, because it doesn’t matter: the game is broken. The controller doesn’t work with any sort of precision and if you can make it work to do what the game’s asking you to do, why don’t you just learn to ride a real skateboard? I’ve heard the argument with Guitar Hero that you’ll spend all sorts of time learning to play a pretend guitar when you could just learn the real thing, but with Guitar Hero the core game is fun and requires significantly less time, effort, and money to pick up and acquire than a real guitar does.
Tony Hawk: Ride is completely off from the target it’s shooting for. It wants to make skateboarding accessible to a crowd that simply can’t get into real skateboarding but with all the effort you put into learning how to play the game you’ve just wasted learning how to ride a skateboard extremely poorly. And don’t say the upside is you don’t hurt yourself because standing on the Ride controller is extremely tough and will result in you falling off and looking like a goober. Do not even attempt Tony Hawk: Ride without enough space to fall over and not break things in.
Actually, don’t attempt Tony Hawk: Ride at all. There is an easy mode that allows you to forget worrying about steering and just focus on the tricks, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having a controller that wants you to replicate actually riding a skateboard. And of course if you try playing the game on anything harder than said easy mode then steering becomes the least fun thing you’ve done in a video game since having to buy a replacement Wiimote (those things are spendy!).
Just so we’re clear here, Tony Hawk: Ride doesn’t work. It doesn’t work and it doesn’t work. It makes absolutely no sense as a game since the point is to have a game where you skateboard, but learning to use the controller in an enjoyable fashion takes as much effort as going outside, dinking around on a skateboard, and learning how to actually ride one. Plus, parents, consider the difference of price. Tony Hawk: Ride has gone down to $89.99 after failing to sell well at $119.99, yet a real skateboard can be found really cheap (we’re talking $30), and a helmet to go with it costs roughly $20. Do some math there and you’ll see the better price, even with kneepads. Oh, and to close this out with an ultra corny pun-filled line, “If Tony Hawk: Ride is the next biggest thing, then I want off.” You know, because it’s a ride and…never mind.