900 Degrees Of Separation

No more shinners. No more rusty bearings. No more flat spots on your wheels. Tired? Nope. Not tired. Thirsty? Think again. Now you don’t even have to leave the couch to have a session with the likes of Chad Muska, Elissa Steamer, Bucky Lasek, Jamie Thomas, and yes, Tony Hawk. You can sit there on your lazy ass and bump and grind with the best of them.

Easy to play, fun as hell, and a good diversion from homework, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for PlayStation lets even the nerdiest gamer noseslide a four foot high kinked rail. The two-player game features an indoor course, filmed at Skatestreet in Ventura, CA, and has a few pyramids, a vert ramp, a jump over a car, and a huge rail. The object is to collect enough of the hidden video tapes to proceed to the next level. There’s also a downhill course, a vert ramp, an elementary school, a mall, and yes, an “urban downtown environment.”

The game designers at Neversoft (for Activision), decided to run with the urban (marketing) thing and have invented a game traditionally ball-sport-loathing skaters should balk at: S-K-A-T-E. “The skaters’ version of basketball’s HORSE,” one player executes a trick, the other follows. You bail, you get a letter. Spell S-K-A-T-E, you lose. There’s also something called Graffiti mode. This embarrassing mode of play involves some kind of tag game where you battle your opponent by trying to hit every obstacle on the course.

Each of the ten pros featured in this relatively simple (but incredibly addicting) game has a small arsenal of tricks, including Tony Hawk’s 900 (he can also do a Kickflip McTwist), Bob Burnquist’s Burntwist, Kareem Campbell doing a mighty Casper Slide. Jamie Thomas has a sick one foot nosegrind, Elissa Steamer exectues a Judo Madonna, and Holy Video game Batman! Rune Glifberg’s fat Christ Air will hopefully not give you the false sense of security that you can really do these tricks once you get back on your board.

Not to challenge how tough the ten pros featured in this game actually are, I do think it’s a little curious how easily one bounces back from bailing off the side of the ramp or how quickly you can build up enough speed to clear a good two feet of air┬┐after starting at the base of the ramp. True, the occasional physics law is bent a little, true, the featured talent, like a Timex, takes a good licking and keeps on ticking. But the authentic sound effects, the variable speeds that respond to the changes in friction, and the true-to-life littering of ad banners all over the ramps give nerds and wanna-bes the world of skating┬┐all in the safety in their own home.