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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Toys for Bob
GENRE: Extreme Sports
PLAYERS:   1-4
November 19, 2006
Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Ride

Tony Hawk: Ride

More in this Series
 Written by Chris Reiter  on October 13, 2006

First Impressions: Tony Hawk's in a Wii bit of a Jam here.

Expectancies have been fulfilled with the Wii, showing that with a motion-sensing controller you'll be able to race, shoot stuff and, in a much smaller measure, explore. Activision's taking the safest route however when it comes to launching a Tony Hawk game on Nintendo's system. Everyone who's anyone will be tearing up levels like crazy in the big, bold, and beautiful Tony Hawk's Project 8, while Wii owners get fixed with a completely different type of skating dish. Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam isn't going to be your typical Tony Hawk game. In fact, this is mostly a Tony Hawk game in name alone as here Tony Hawk is the only professional skater to lend his interactive likeness. Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam isn't aiming for a complex approach to skateboarding realism -- it's all about simple and straightforward downhill skating in this one.

Just because the title says Tony Hawk doesn't mean the talented team of Neversoft is behind it. Toys for Bob, whose most recent titles include Madagascar and Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure, is the company handling this subsidiary spin-off. Wonderful. Even though you can't judge a book by its cover before you've read it, or in this case played it, the way Downhill Jam can be seen with all things considered it doesn't look as if this iteration will have a lot going for it. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a reason to get a little curious about it. After all, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam will take after one of the more entertaining PlayStation skating games from the past, Sony's own ESPN Extreme Games.

Street luge, inline skating, mountain biking, and skateboarding were the four vehicular modes of which you'd steer down linear sets of streets planted with jumps, obstacles, and other racers to beat up on in ESPN Extreme Games. Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam won't stretch that much outside the extreme sports box; it will, however, enable four players to dish hurt on one another. In all, there'll be 10 selectable preexisting riders and a comprehensive customizable character option if you're feeling creative. In determining the fastest winner, you'll be pulling off speed boosts and an assortment of tricks on the way down courses with the one-handed Wii remote. You'll hold the controller in a classic NES position and tilt it like you would a steering wheel (similar to Excite Truck), able to grind, ollie, and do more using a combination of different, simple, and most importantly intuitive button presses.

Unless you're in need of the most precocious graphical upgrades in your Tony Hawk library this fall, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam shouldn't bother you much, if at all. Paling in comparison to its next-gen cousin, Tony Hawk's Project 8, Downhill Jam should look very familiar to the same version of Tony Hawk you've been playing on the GameCube for the last five years. This can be both a good and bad thing depending on how you look at it. Current-gen Tony Hawk titles didn't look too bad, but neither were they technically the most alluring compared to higher profile releases.

Final Thoughts
Can Tony Hawk be done on the Wii? It seems so, but not in the way you'd think. Activision, instead of trying to make the franchise work with the unusual controller, figures out another way for the top name in skateboarding to rake in some dough. Is this way for the better, though? We will have to see it to believe it, or to play it in Nintendo's grand vision. But if you're somebody who wants the real deal in skating, all tricks all the time anywhere you want to go, you'll have to look elsewhere. The Wii has yet to prove that it can do everything, when developers can obviously only do so much with so little so far.

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