Skate or Die - Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) - Classic Video Games

A Classic, but Not Very Good

Skate or Die isn't exactly the greatest NES game ever made, but it is very much what classic Nintendo is all about. It's a fairly early game, released by Ultra Games (basically Konami) in 1988. Electronic Arts originally programmed it. Like many of the early NES games such as Castlevania, the controls are legendarily clunky. This is a game that has a wide array of difficulty depending on which event you choose.

It's easy to see why the creators of Skate or Die chose Rodney Dangerfield as their mascot. The late comedian sported a mohawk while they were still new and fresh. Plus, the guys at EA were smoking loads of drugs direct from China.
It's easy to see why the creators of Skate or Die chose Rodney Dangerfield as their mascot. The late comedian sported a mohawk while they were still new and fresh. Plus, the guys at EA were smoking loads of drugs direct from China.

When you start the game off, you skate towards the event you want. You may recall AVGN's review of this game where he mentions that the pro shop guy looks like "Rodney Dangerfield with a mohawk." You might be surprised to learn that the designers did actually model this guy after Rodney Dangerfield, and his official name is Rodney Recloose. Strange. That's just... strange.

The "boatloads of drugs" that EA was smoking to create this game came from other dimensions and stuff. They said the high was like crossing the "Dangerfield." Hence, they decided to use Rodney as their mascot. It makes perfect sense.
The "boatloads of drugs" that EA was smoking to create this game came from other dimensions and stuff. They said the high was like crossing the "Dangerfield." Hence, they decided to use Rodney as their mascot. It makes perfect sense.
These three screen comprise most of the Skate or Die video game experience. Essentially, this is what you do. It isn't very exciting, to be honest. They should have smoked less drugs and devoted more time to game design and replay value.
These three screen comprise most of the Skate or Die video game experience. Essentially, this is what you do. It isn't very exciting, to be honest. They should have smoked less drugs and devoted more time to game design and replay value.

The... Yawn... Game Itself

Anyway, the game itself has five different minigames. This is kind of deceptive though, because two of them are duplicate ideas. The freestyle ramp and high jump both use the same half-pipe. The downhill race and downhill jam are very similar. One race has you racing against a computer opponent (the jam).

The only event which stands out from all of these mediocre offerings is the pool joust, where you and another skater skate around in a pool and try to knock each other off of your boards with a jousting stick. This is the best event in the game hands down - it makes you wonder why EA didn't just focus on this for the entire game. That would have totally rocked.

There isn't much to say about game play. It's clunky as hell, even by early NES standards. Turning your skateboard during the downhill race feels like trying to turn the Titanic. The downhill jam where you skate through a back alleyway is just as annoying - in fact, both of the downhill races are more about memorization than skills. That's just obnoxious. Basically, play them for an hour or so and you'll score amazingly. Extra points if you land on the cop car at the end of the downhill jam though.

If you come back to the game a week or two later, you'll have to memorize the races again. Where is the fun in that?

The half-pipe events are kind of bland. Timing is important, and there aren't that many tricks that you can do. The manual basically explained most of them, and I wouldn't be surprised if EA put some secrets in there somewhere. I mean - I would hope they did. This game is pretty bland overall.

Take a Look at the Gameplay Here

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I'm not sure where the "die" part comes in. You don't die anywhere in this game. However, the box art was cool. A whole generation of kids wanted a skating game like this, and they got it. Straight up the butt, because the game was not good.
I'm not sure where the "die" part comes in. You don't die anywhere in this game. However, the box art was cool. A whole generation of kids wanted a skating game like this, and they got it. Straight up the butt, because the game was not good.

Why Play This Crap? Why Is This a Classic?

So what's the point of the game? No point, actually. Seriously though, it's just basically about points. It's more of a two player game, because in single player mode you just compete against your own high scores over and over. But I guess that's like really skateboarding in public places - there's no actual point to it. Other than fun, I guess.

So if this game is so bland, why is it a classic? Well, skateboarding was just becoming big in the late 80s among us kids back then. We didn't have crazy games like Tony Hawk and stuff yet. This was all we had. For us old Nintendo geezers, this is an NES classic because of its novelty. For newer generations interested in exploring old games, you might as well avoid this one. It isn't that great. It's a C or C minus game at best. Probably more of a D+. At any rate, it's just the nostalgia factor that makes it a classic. It's one of the first real skating video games most of us remember playing at home.

One thing is certain, the crap factor on this game was heavily masked by some fairly kick ass music.

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© 2014 Rywads

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