Shaun White Skateboarding
We know exactly what you’re thinking – ‘why is a snowboard legend getting his own skateboarding game now?’ It seems a little strange, sure, but after playing Shaun White Skateboarding you will quickly amass a whole list of far more pertinent questions.
For example, why does your character turn into a pile of balls whenever you bail? Why are you able to shape and ride elements of the environment with your mind? Why is your created character so good on a skateboard within seconds of picking one up for the first time in the game’s intro movie? Why are there hacking mini-games in an extreme sports game?
And why, in the name of everything that is holy, does the supposedly noble task of rescuing the captured Shaun White and overthrowing the controlling Ministry involve painting the city in garish colours and turning its hard-working citizens into slack-jawed skating fans?
These questions and many others are served up – almost unanimously without answer, we hasten to add – by Shaun White Skateboarding, easily one of the silliest extreme sports titles we’ve ever seen but one that’s all the more memorable for it.
First of all there’s the concept, which is far from the best, involving the process of bringing colour and freedom back to a dystopian society by skating around it. This all feels extremely forced and like Ubisoft is trying too hard to seem cool. It is equally evident in the game’s stupid cut-scenes, from the cringeworthy dialogue to the hateful cast of characters and, while it feels a little remiss to criticise a skating game for something so trivial as its movie sequences, you do have to question the value of an extreme sports title having cut-scenes in the first place.
Such eyebrow-raising moments are quickly forgotten once your created skater fully realises his or her power, though – as silly as it is that you can skate on imaginary rails and bend the world to make it more skate-friendly, it’s a unique and rewarding mechanic that puts no small amount of distance between Shaun White Skateboarding and the competition. It also means there’s no shortage of potentially lucrative lines to hit, the already well-designed cityscapes made even more inviting and interesting by the ability to twist and alter bits of the world at will.
It looks somewhat ropey and the physics and mechanics might not be the best the genre has ever seen but despite all its flaws and its ludicrously over-thought setting, Shaun White Skateboarding is actually a pretty enjoyable game. Some of the goals set are inventive and as silly as the mind powers are, there’s no question that their functionality adds something to the skateboarding genre that no previous titles could boast. Linking a lengthy series of rails, lowering the ground to slide under a wall at the last minute, saving yourself from a long fall by conjuring up rail-shaped salvation from thin air… it’s moments like these when Shaun White Skateboarding empowers most and you just have to step back from how ridiculous it all is and say, ‘okay, that was pretty cool.’