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Preview: Shaun White Skateboarding (Wii)


I totally dominated Shaun White Skateboarding's downhill slalom multiplayer mode. It's true! And you'd see it too if it weren't for the fact that the person I was dominating was our intrepid video man Chad, shirking his videographer duties to battle me. That's right, folks -- more downhill slalom on skateboards for the Wii. While I stood on a Wii Balance Board with a Wiimote in hand, Chad used a Wiimote/Nunchuk combo; while I jumped and flailed, he flicked and flailed. And though this wasn't exactly the deepest gameplay on offer from Shaun White's forthcoming game (read on for my impressions of the single-player campaign), the battle was, more or less, rather enjoyable.

Sure, the precision control of a skateboarding sim like Skate is nowhere to be found, but the arcadey enjoyment found in early Tony Hawk titles seems to be littered throughout Shaun White Skateboarding. An extended single-player campaign demo, played just before the aforementioned multiplayer battle, showed off the game's Tony Hawk-meets-Flower gameplay, first introduced at Ubisoft's E3 presser (seen here). It was just as refreshing as it looked -- though, in fairness, the less than stellar graphics of the Wii version only served to detract from an otherwise interesting visual presentation.

The graphics probably wouldn't be an issue if the game's main campaign weren't about changing a drab environment into one infused with Shaun White's "influence" (essentially making the world more colorful and extending various skating elements to impossible extremes). As it is, the disappointing graphics unfortunately serve to downplay the otherwise neat visual effect.

The gameplay itself is, at very least, entertaining. Shaun controlled easily enough around the game's single-player environment (with a Wiimote and Nunchuk -- no Balance Board option in this mode, it seems), though a lack of being able to gain speed using the tried and true skateboarding method of putting one foot on the ground and pushing is totally bizarre. Instead, speed is gained by going down vert ramps or entering half pipes, which I could see becoming an issue when repeatedly retrying a particularly difficult skate line.

Being able to control your character (at least in multiplayer) using the Wii Fit Balance Board was surprisingly neat and worked better than I had anticipated (I didn't fall off or knock over anyone or anything!). Should you have two Balance Boards lying around your house, multiplayer can even be battled out that way -- but then you're playing a very, very expensive game (though I applaud Ubisoft for including this ultra-niche functionality).

Is Shaun White Skateboarding set to revolutionize the world of skateboarding games? Probably not, but it does seem poised to help fill the gap that was left after years of digging the Tony Hawk series further and further into the ground. We'll see what else the game offers when it arrives this holiday.

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