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DS Fanboy Review: Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam (DS)

David Hinkle
David Hinkle|@davehinkle|November 16, 2006 9:30 AM

Just about everyone has heard of Tony Hawk. Whether you're a fan of skateboarding or gaming, the man has made an impact, often considered equal, in both cultures. With his first game being released way back when on the original Playstation, folks have had plenty of time to learn how to bust kickflips and grind massive rails in his games.

Then, upon the launch of Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connect service, a little Tony Hawk game by the name of Tony Hawk's American Sk8land released. Not only taking full advantage of Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connect service, the single-player and local multiplayer experience in the title were also excellent. Now, we receive the game's successor in Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam.
In changing the overall approach of the game, the entire experience has sadly faultered. Where the free-roaming approach of previous games, both on home consoles and handhelds, has helped the title to remain viable as a fun experience, the linear, almost Road Rage-like gameplay in Downhill Jam makes the title, for lack of better term, boring.

This time around, Tony is doing his usual thing and looking to form the sickest skate team the world has ever seen. Being his first choice, it's here where you begin to run the gauntlet of his trials in San Francisco and discover Tony's nemesis in the Antonio Segul, a man who apparently still thinks it's the 80's and Flock of Seagulls is the greatest band of all time. You'll race and complete goals, much as you have in the past.

Ridiculous story aside, the goals very much follow the track laid by previous games bearing Tony Hawk's name. While racing against AI-controlled opponents downhill, some goals ask you to meet goal requirements, others ask you to collect items. Some other goals ask you to be stylish. Style goals charge you with landing cleanly and not repeating tricks throughout the course.

Aside from the World Tour mode, you can also take part in Free Skate and Quick Race modes. Outside of single player modes, you can also take part in local multiplayer and Wi-Fi enabled matches. Wi-Fi match types include Big Air, where players must, obviously, reach higher altitudes than the competition, and Elimiskate, which eliminates the skater as the race progresses. Only problem: noone is ever online to play.

Graphically, the game looks and moves good. The cel-shaded graphics return from American Sk8land and your skater is highly customizable in all areas from hats and hair down to board graphics and clothing. Also, you can use the stylus to create your own designs.

We would've given the game a higher score if we could consistantly have some fun online with the title, but the lack of participants inhabiting the servers, along with the linear approach of the game on a whole, force us to give it the score you see and get less replay value out of it. We advise you rent the game for a weekend if you're a Tony Hawk addict. Everyone else, you really need not apply.

Final Score: 6.5/10