Written By Shaun McCracken

It's funny. A lot of developers have made games that compete with each other. For example, football games. We have Madden, we have Sega's series, we have Midway's Blitz series and in the case of the PS2 and the X-Box, there's the Gameday and NFL Fever series, respectively. This is the case with many genres such as baseball, basketball, hockey, racing games and even some platformers. But it's surprising to see that hardly any developers decide to take on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. Perhaps they're too afraid to take on the trick system Neversoft has perfected, as well as the evolving game engine. Maybe they just can't compete with the name recognition. Konami decided to challenge this fact with Evolution Skateboarding, a fun, but not as nearly robust skateboarding game. It brings some good ideas aboard to the genre, but lacks the technical complexity of the THPS series. Does this make Evolution Skateboarding a bad game? No. But it could have been so much more if the trick system were deeper.

You've probably guessed what Evolution Skateboarding is about. Here's a hint, it's in the title! Evolution Skateboarding pretty much follows the standard procedure of most extreme sports games. You select a stage and go through a series of set challenges and goals. Complete a specific number of them, and you can move on to the next level. This is done in the Arcade mode. Lord knows why the developers called this Arcade instead of Career, but that's a good chunk of the game. The challenges are fairly easy to complete, in fact, you can probably complete the goals offered in this game easier than THPS's goals. You've got three minutes to do as much as you can, and if you haven't finished it, you'll need to start over. Three minutes seems fair, but now many extreme sports titles offer unlimited time during play, so here it seems a bit limiting. A cool aspect in the arcade mode are the boss stages and events. Here, you will need to grind or hit certain objects or parts to defeat the boss. It's never been done in previous skateboarding titles, and it does add a bit of life to a fairly standard game.

Another mode in ES is a Tournament mode, which is pretty much championship based events where you try to pull as many tricks as you can on a half pipe. Oddly, this is left out of arcade and treated as a separate mode. I haven't played this mode as much as the arcade mode, since it really isn't that engrossing. ES also boasts a Challenge mode. Here, you have set challenges, such as combos, specific tricks to pull, score challenges and more. It's a nice change of pace, but to a point it seems redundant. Also, some of the challenges seem unbalanced or even unachievable (such as the stages that involve rail combos). I've been able to complete some, such as the score and combo challenges, but other stages are more difficult than most of the objectives offered in the arcade mode. Capping off the modes, ES features a createable player and a sticker edit mode. The edited player actually adds a new set of challenges in the arcade mode, which is nice. The sticker edit mode is fun, especially when it comes to plastering your board with childish phrases and swears. Nothing like seeing a board with "BIG 'UNS" on the bottom.

The game design in Evolution Skateboarding means well, but I think it's biggest fault lies in the fact that the trick system is not very complex or even modifiable, and that the rail transfer combos are difficult to perform, since balance is hindered during the transfer. The combo system is pretty easy to abuse. One would think that the big points come from the air combos, but that's not true. You can abuse the combo system in pretty much the same way it can be abused in Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2. You can either pull combos by doing a manual, a quick air trick, then back into the manual; or by grinding a rail, jumping with a quick air trick, and then getting back on the rail with another grind. It sounds like I'm rambling, but if I can show you how it's done, it seems oh so easy. As for the tricks themselves, there's a good handful of them, but they aren't as plentiful as the ones found in the THPS games, and not nearly as good. Still, it didn't really hurt the overall experience for me. In fact, it's better than BMX XXX in terms of design and fun. It just seems shallow when you consider the competition.

The graphics are fairly decent. Not mind-blowing, but it does the job. The stages are well laid out and are pretty big (one of the stages is the Plant stage from Metal Gear Solid 2). The character models are done pretty well, but the stage textures aren't as sharp as other games I've played. As funny as it sounds, I felt like I was skateboarding in the world of Crazy Taxi. The colors were bright, and the textures were a tad blurry or smooth. At times, the game also seemed to have taken on a cel-shaded look (such as the Plant stage). Konami didn't have a concrete decision on how the art-direction should have been. The frame rate stays constant most of the time, but there were some places where it lagged. The place that did it the most was one of the Tokyo stages, and it stared slowing down where there were people talking. For the most part, the graphics are serviceable.

The sound consists of typical skateboarding sounds, and even more of a typical soundtrack. While the music is licensed, I can't recall any of the acts in the game. And it's pretty much all rock music. When will an extreme sports game embrace some different music? The voices from some of the people in the stages are pretty funny, such as the little girl who just shouts out obscure things.

Evolution Skateboarding kind of took me by surprise. Other critics did not think much about this game simply because it wasn't Tony Hawk. I bought this game as a "what-the-hell" purchase at a KB Toy store for $9.99. But I was not at all disappointed with the purchase. Evolution Skateboarding turned out to be a pretty good game with a few flaws. Sure, the trick system isn't expansive. And sure, it may be a little easier. And while I would have liked the skater's turning radius to be tighter, the controls are pretty good. It's not at all unplayable, the design is not broken in any way, and it is fun to play. I suggest anyone looking for an alternative to THPS to give this a chance. Of course, this is the only alternative. But for $10, or even $20, you can't go wrong.

Published By :

Developed By:

Year Published :

Players :

ESRB Rating:



It's actually not as bad as I imagined it would be, but it's still behind the THPS series.


Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2

Every Tony Hawk game

2003-2006 SPM

All writings and created images are property of SPM, unless otherwise stated or declared. Original content may not be distributed or copied without permission of the author of this site, unless otherwise stated. Game boxes, consoles and names are trademarks of their respective companies, and do not indicate any affiliation of this website.