Shaun White Skateboarding Review

By David Wolinsky - Posted Nov 02, 2010

The Flying Tomato returns with his first skateboarding game that, on the Wii, is packed with plenty of inspired ideas but fails to follow through on their potential.

The Pros
  • The levels evolve as you play
  • Very forgiving difficulty
  • Easy to pick up and play
The Cons
  • Agonizingly repetitive levels
  • Wendy's product placement
  • Arbitrary controls and fuzzy physics

Shaun White Skateboarding Wii Review:

The Nintendo Wii and two-time Olympic medalist Shaun White both get a bad rap. Though to be fair, the Nintendo Wii has never been photographed for the Rolling Stone cover wearing American-flag print jeans, strangling a bottle of lighter fluid near its crotch onto a flaming guitar. Shaun White has. For all his attempts to be an Olympic-grade bad boy, the redheaded skater has professed time and time again he’s devoted to assuring the videogames bearing his name and likeness not be mere shovelware. Sure enough, Shaun White Skateboarding, his third game to date and first non-snowboarding title, comes proudly emblazoned with a label that it’s been “developed in close collaboration with [the] renowned skateboarder.” That said, the Wii version somehow misfires on the same core concepts successfully integral to the other versions, making it somewhat unclear who’s to blame here.

Life's A Grind

In Shaun White Skateboarding, humanity has hit the dregs, and those fat cats in Washington are to blame. When the game starts off, the world is a bleak black and white, and you’re the only one who can take things from two-toned Kansas to the Technicolor Land Of Oz. Just in case it isn’t exceedingly obvious by now, your implement of revolution is your trusty skateboard: pulling off tricks and stunts in the linear levels transforms the land around you. Ironically, though, the levels, or districts as they’re called, completely lack inspiration themselves. Whereas the other console versions let you skate wherever you please and grind along skyscrapers, the Wii once again gets the short shrift with cartoony visuals and stiflingly linear levels. Instead of getting side tracked and discovering optional quests, the Wii version relegates you to turning around a single person’s outlook on life by embarking on seven bland obstacle courses per level.

These range from grinding a pre-determined distance within a time limit to collecting diamonds before the clock runs out. What’s in it for you? Well, you can unlock new songs, stickers for your board, or “secret” costumes. But once you’ve gone through the first level, you’ve seen what’s ahead for you ‘til the end. Also, for reasons that aren’t obvious, transforming the world into a more colorful place goes hand in hand with lots and lots Wendy’s restaurants cropping up. Because you know your local skate punks are always sneering, “Fight the power… with Wendy’s!”

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Skate Or Die

This being a Wii game, you’re given the option of controlling your skater with either the Balance Board or the more traditional Wii Remote and Nunchuk configuration. If you have Wii Fit, then you know what you’re in for: getting stung for your less-than-perfect balance. Though the sensitivity can be toned down, even on its most forgiving setting you’ll find yourself go sailing off a rail through no fault of your own. The occasionally wonky physics don’t help—with or without the Balance Board, our skater went floating off into thin air for several seconds before starting his falling animation more than a few times. That’s especially frustrating, considering how difficult lining up straight-ahead jumps can be in the first place. Couch potatoes will appreciate the less intense Remote/Nunchuk controls, which lets you just flick your wrist to jump.

And frankly, neither gives you an advantage on pulling off tricks: the button assignments feel rather random, meaning every time you’re catching some air you’ll button-mash and flail your limbs without any master plan in mind. You don’t need one. The challenges issued to you require you ascend to a certain points ceiling, and they don’t care how you get there. Why bother orchestrating a seamless succession of moves when the path of least resistance yields the same results?

Major Bummer

There’s a good game with some great ideas lurking inside of Shaun White Skateboarding. The non-Wii versions come a lot closer to realizing this vision than what Nintendo devotees will get, which is a shame, because in making the game more suitable for younger gamers with simplified controls and an even more simplified story, the result is a game that’s of little use to anyone. You have to dig too deep for the fun to be had that can be had from Shaun White Skateboarding, but who should be subjected to such teasing punishment?

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?