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Tony Hawk aims to steal a jump on Skate It DS by adding a motion sensing cartridge. However, the novelty of the control scheme has to compensate for over familiar skate boarding gameplay from previous (pretty solid) Tony Hawks games on DS and GBA.
Sporting games recreate a wide variety of real life competitive activities. Depending on the sport, these will either have an action or strategy focus. Popular sports games are often released on an annual basis, each year the game receives new player rosters and game improvements.
Tony Hawk's Motion, as its name suggests, is first to introduce motion control to a DS skateboard game. It comes with a motion sensing cartridge that slots into the bigger port at the bottom of the DS. It is slightly old in design and although will fit snuggly into an original DS, it protrudes from the DS Lite, and isn't compatible with the new DSi's coming out next year (as they have no GBA slot).
The cartridge enables you to tilt the DS left and right to steer your skater around the environment. You perform tricks by pressing buttons, something that is then complimented by using the motion cart when balancing grinds or hang-offs. Although this adds another dimension to the game, it isn't as revolutionary as you might imagine - largley due to limiting the motions involved to tilting rather than the flicks and gestures of Skate It Wii.
The tilting controls do score highly for players not used to pressing buttons to steer. Our kids for instance (3 and 5) both instinctively tilt rather than press. They could more easily tour around the levels, although the complexity of the rest of the game unsurprisingly escaped them. Perhaps in an effort to extend the experience for the younger market, a painting mini game is also included - Hue Pixel Painter. This is certainly a welcome freebie although is a little odd next to the graffiti street stylings of the main game.
Other aspects of the game mirror previous Tony Hawks handheld outings which because of their age are now starting to look a little tired.
Players will be drawn to the game because of the Tony Hawk brand and the prospect of potion controls. Although on both these counts the game fails to deliver, there is still a good deal of fun for younger players who are more likely to make their own game of things. Our five year old managed to invent a whole imaginary world around the antics of her clumsy skater because, as she told me, 'he keeps falling over'.
Although the game structure and buttons will be familiar to gamers who have played the previous games in the series, the new motion controls take some time to master. The temptation to fall back to the old fashion D-pad steering should be avoided as players who take their time learning the new style of tilt skating will get more out of the game.
Very young players, ironically, are best placed to salvage an enjoyable experience from the game. The simple tilt controls work pretty well on their own, and enable youngsters to explore the different environments.
Intermediates with higher expectations may fail to find so much usable fun. The problem is that there is now too much competition for an old style skating game - even one with motion controls.
Experts who may have been hoping for a return to form for Tony Hawks game, will soon realise they have been bowled a googly - this isn't what it first appears to be. It's hard to get away from the feel that this is a rush product of a marketing meeting, rather than the excellent game design team behind the Tony Hawks games of old.
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