GBAtemp Exclusive Why "Extreme Sports," Games Can’t get It Right

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by chavosaur, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. chavosaur
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    chavosaur Austin Trujillo

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    “I rip rock and gravel when I time travel, my rhyme busts shots with the beats that I battle.”​


    The opening lyrics of my childhood. I can still hear the jazzy beats blasting through my old Sony Trinitron as I tore through the same few parks over and over again in the early masterpiece that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.

    The number of hours spent doing the same tricks and listening to the same music, and the familiar grunts of absolutely wrecking my shit when I messed up a stunt is times I genuinely cherish. They’re memories that I could begin talking about and probably evoke the same goosebumps and nostalgia trips in anyone that hears me. And unfortunately, they haven’t been the same since.

    Considering the mainstay power that the Tony Hawk name had in the early days of the PS1/N64 era and how it continued to hold resonance into the following generation, it makes one question. What the hell happened?!

    Tony-Hawks-Pro-Skater-1.jpeg

    It’s honestly baffling to be able to look at the past ten years and only recall one skateboard game that was worth a damn. Skate 3 was arguably the last worthwhile game focused on the pastime, and that game came out in 2010.

    Skate 3 had actual color, vibrancy, and personality to its world. Not only that, it was one of the last sports games to have a decent set list of licensed music and great sound design. And the engine of the game felt fun, free and crazy. The ragdoll physics were some of the best I had seen in any game of the past few years.

    skate3.05.lg.jpeg

    Fast forward to the year 2015, when the big comeback was supposed to happen. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was fast approaching, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I remember picking that game up day one and jumping in as soon as I got home from work. I recall playing it for a solid hour, and I can tell you that with each passing minute my weak smile curled into a disgusted grimace.

    Initially, as I was thinking about writing this, I wondered if it would just lead into a blind nostalgia pandering thought piece about how nothing could be as good as when I was a kid and didn’t know any better.

    But I can recall in recent memory firing up Pro Skater 2 on a PSONE in my shop and being able to launch back into it with perfect precision. Being able to pull off all the tricks I had spent ages memorizing and marveling at how the game still felt good to play.

    It aged graphically, but it didn’t particularly age in its control or its feel. It was arcadey, it was still fun, the satisfaction of the trick still evoked emotion, and the impact of mistakes still made me laugh. It was still a game first and had everything else topped onto it like seasonings in a sauce.

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    Tony Hawk 5 on the other hand, threw some salt and pepper into a pot and then remembered sauce was supposed to go in there and flopped it in at the last minute. It had lost its purpose and forgotten what it was meant to be. The franchise wasn’t about Tony Hawk, or branding, or any petty BS that Activision slapped onto every nook and cranny of the product.

    I wasn’t playing Tony Hawk or Matt Hoffman or Amped or any freaking sports game because I wanted to emulate them and feel like I was doing it myself. I played those games because the game made it fun to play that way!

    The franchise began losing its audience the more gimmicky and real it tried to be. Remember the RIDE boards on Wii/360/PS3? Remember the engines getting so focused on realism and graphics? Can you recall when you began looking at the presentations for these games and turning your head when they came on because you couldn’t bring yourself to care, even though you used to? Do you think they ever stopped to look and see if they were still building a game or a large marketing commercial?

    tony-hawk-ride-81_800x450.jpeg

    Herein lies the problem. Skateboard games, snowboarding games, BMX, all the “extreme sports,” games can be chalked up as products of the culture that was the 90’s. But at their core, they were still video games. They balanced realism of the time with entertaining physics and engaging gameplay. Look at Tony Hawk 5 or hell, even some of the sports games that EA endlessly pumps out today. Do you see a game or cynical marketing cash-grab with a brand smacked onto it?

    These extreme sports games aren’t missing the mark because they lost their way. They’re just genuinely not even trying anymore. Activision didn’t even care to release Tony Hawk in a playable state, and EA has been money grubbing for the past decade now. There’s no soul to these games, no care put into them anymore.

    At least Ubisoft is trying to make something happen with Steep and seems to be struggling but finding an okay balance of gameplay with online synergy. But these games just continue to lack balance as companies try to force them out to bank on your nostalgia.

    large.jpeg

    If it’s not broken gameplay, it’s a lack of attention to sound design or crafting memorable music. While all the attention to realism is there, there’s a lack of arcade-like entertainment or color that makes it feel like a game again.

    These practices had all but killed the extreme sports genre in recent memory. And in a lot of ways, it’s beginning to bleed over into other genres as well. It isn’t about nostalgia, but companies that are trying to pander to our nostalgia. This focus on bringing games as close to real life as possible is indeed aggravating as if the people making the product can’t tell if it’s product or a game anymore. This incessant need to sell us cosmetic DLC that none of us want in place of crafting a worthwhile experience.

    The saddest part is that the last fun skateboarding game I played in recent memory was Olli-Olli, an indie game I played on 3DS and Vita. And that's a 2D indie skateboarding game. The selling point? It's a good feeling, fun to play skateboarding game. The colors are simplistic, the music is subtle but fits the aesthetic and the tricks are satisfying to execute. It's the closest we've been to a return to form, and it's a retro looking indie title.

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    Rumors have been floating around about Skate 4 for years now, and I can’t bring myself to be excited anymore after seeing what these companies think we care about. It could be the polar opposite and be what sends us back in the right direction, or it can be just another game lost to the plague of marketing gluttony.

    It’s not impossible to fix these issues. They can get these game’s right again. If they just try to remember that they’re games in the first place.
     


  2. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    I noticed that the focus has shifted from skateboarding and BMX to MX, ATV, superbikes and off-road, with games like MX vs. ATV, Ride or The Crew: Wild Run being notable examples. It's a sign of times, I suppose. I blame Trials, the release of that game changed people's perception of extreme sports.
     
  3. Sonic Angel Knight

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend

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    We need snowboard kids 3 now! :P
     
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  4. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    Make SSX great again. :tpi:
     
  5. bjaxx87

    bjaxx87 GBAtemp Fan

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    But there is! ;) (Yeah, it's not as fun as the N64/PSX ones...)
     
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  6. LittleFlame

    LittleFlame Thinks he's better than all of you

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    aw, I miss extreme sports games a lot, THUGPRO is still a lot of fun though
     
  7. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Honk!

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    I forgot
    Yeah, it's a shame things like Tony Hawk Pro Skater started getting shit after the 90s. But yeah, like Foxi said it seems like there are more "extreme motorsports" games these days than anything else which I guess explains it.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention SSX at all, it's another series with a semi-recent reboot (holy shit that game is 5 years old ._.) that has a lot of promise for snowboard games. I hope Steep provokes EA to release a sequel to compete with Ubisoft, but I doubt it will :(
     
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  8. Issac

    Issac I

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    THPS2 was AMAZING. The soundtrack: perfect.
    THPS3 was fun, THPS4 was okay.... and then it just got worse and worse.
    Then came Skate which was fresh start, and Skate 3 is near perfect (but I miss the THPS2 style music. Though the music is so sparse that I just play my own shit).
     
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  9. chavosaur
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    chavosaur Austin Trujillo

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    The original premise of what I was writing encompassed skateboard games mostly, then as I got going it evolved into the whole era of those types of games. I also freaking love SSX, (grew up on cool boarders first,) I just neglected to mention it since my original focus was on skateboarding. It's continually sad to see that no devs seem to remember why those games were fun.
     
  10. tbb043

    tbb043 Member

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    Today's shitty devs don't have the necessary Mtn Dew level running through their veins to do extreme right.
     
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  11. ov3rkill

    ov3rkill GBAtemp Maniac

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    I miss Downhill Domination so much. One of the good extreme sports IMO.
     
  12. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I liked Skate 2 as well, especially with the DLC. I know Skate 3 eventually got a bit but 2 had a halfway passable local mode too. That said I wired up a gamecube a while back and stuck in Tony Hawk 4, not quite unplayable but skate has definitely got me used to more refined things.

    That said while I am more of a wood pusher many friends favour bmx and computerised games there are a bit thin on the ground. Indeed the last one of any merit at all was on the PSP some years back, and I only found that as I was plundering the back catalogue. Wonder if we can still blame BMX XXX for that one. More recently there was supposed to be another sort of freeware/crowdfunded/something one but I heard no more from it.

    MX vs ATV on the xbox is probably my favourite free roam to zone out to game, sadly it was downhill from there in many regards. Even after the demise of THQ and them supposedly bringing back the old heads it was never quite the same.

    As far as trials is concerned it had been a "genre" that was quietly bubbling along for years, maybe when it exploded with Trials it did something but eh


    Always a staple of the lucky lucky man multicarts that game was, and too right as it was great.

    Also if people are considering things here I liked the following video. I am not sure how much I agree with but it was certainly worth a watch
     
  13. gamesquest1

    gamesquest1 Nabnut

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    Don't get me wrong some games do the eye candy thing well and still pull off being a good game, but I feel like not many devs actually put graphics on the backburner but instead focus on building a really nice map and characters then realise people actually need something to do with them and try jam a few "collect 100 useless craps" to bulk up the content and hide the fact that the game has pretty much zero fun it's all just cookie cutter games with slightly better shadows or water reflections each year

    but yeah it was only last week I was fixing a psone later and ended up playing thps2 for like 3 hours instead of the 10 minutes I was supposed to be playing it for to just test the laser
     
    Last edited by gamesquest1, Mar 30, 2017
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  14. Bullseye

    Bullseye GBAtemp Regular

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    Oh, motocross maniacs. You read my mind with that one. That game was great fun.
     
    Last edited by Bullseye, Mar 30, 2017
  15. H1B1Esquire

    H1B1Esquire RxTools, the ultimate CFW machine.

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    Earth, bro-dude.
    I wish that one PS2 game that came with a skateboard you snapped on to the analog sticks sold better. Maybe THRASHER: Skate & Destroy can make a comeback?

    Ultimately, I blame 90's moms and the economy for everything. Or the shameless 'We are shooter games of 2006-2017-bandwagon of the 90's'-saturation of the market--Andy Mac, X games, Matt Hoffman, Dave Mirra (thankyou for the xxx), Shaun Palmer, Shaun White, Kelly Slater, and so many more.

    I guess the money is in COD, BF, and other shooters.
     
  16. chartube12

    chartube12 GBAtemp Psycho!

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    Even though i sucked at doing tricks, i enjoyed pro skater 1 and 2. Even HD wasn't too bad. Helping my brother spot the collectibles and plan out ways to get them. He'd get the ones i could get due to the controllers. Admittedly most of them. I am horrible at timeing button combos. Just wish HD had absolutely all the maps from the first 3 titles . It only had about half of each even with the addtional map pack. *Sigh* one of the few single player games we could bound over. Not enough titles like that anymore
     
  17. Sonic Angel Knight

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend

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    Make NBA Jam great again. :P
    THAT AIN'T SNOWBOARD KIDS 3 :hateit:

    Still there quite a few games that i wish was back, mostly the midway arcade games, NBA JAM, NBA STREET, MLB SLUGFEST, NFL Blitz, WWF WRESTLEMANIA. Maybe Tom my like to play with Doink the clown. :D

    Now midway isn't even that anymore (Too busy making fighting games for warner bros) All we have is bad simulation games. Nintendo need to bring back excitebike or them other sports titles. How did mario golf/tennis fall down? Oh i knew, they stole the staff from sega who made shining force RPG games, to make sports games. Still no golden sun 4 game. :(
     
  18. Xenon Hacks

    Xenon Hacks GBAtemp Guru

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    Give me another SKATE with the same engine,good music (hip-hop,thrash,punk,gangster rap), and better graphics and I will buy whatever 100$ crazy bundle they decide to release on launch.
     
    Last edited by Xenon Hacks, Mar 30, 2017
  19. BORTZ

    BORTZ Don't pretend you aren't impressed

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    "Awe here it comes like a scene out of Genesis"
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    "Are you ready to go, because I am ready to go"
    "I take a what- I take a what- I take a what-"
    "Out with the old, in with the new shi-*cashregister sound*"

    Don't mind me, just remembering how perfect the THPS2 soundtrack was. It was the first ever console game I owned. I got all A's that grading period in 6th grade and my dad let me spend my $100 that my ailing grandmother left me. Granted I wanted a newly released Gamecube, but the PS1 was cheaper and the games more accessible.
     
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  20. migles

    migles Mei the sexiest bae

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    hey guys what's your opinion on tony hawk underground 2?
    I only played this one (a friend had it) and i did enjoy it.. i remember it had a combustion engine segway before segways where a thing i enjoyed that game but it was the only one of the series i played back in the day..
    i remember SSX was one of that games i really wanted it seemed so cool, however parents never bought me any games and i never had it :cry:

    there was also a jetsky pc game, i played a demo, i had some fun but it was weird as fuck lol ( you pressed space to make U turns to grab some poles with your magic balls or something)
     
    Last edited by migles, Mar 30, 2017