Skate Or Die
Copyright/Publisher: Electronic Arts, Programmed by: Stephen Landrum,
David Bunch & Michael Kosaka, Music by: Rob Hubbard,
Release Year: 1987, Genre: Multi Events, Number Of Players: 1 to 6

Superb skateboard action in Electronic Arts' Sizzling simulation.

The current skateboard revival has prompted the release of several skating programs, with the latest addition being Electronic Arts' unusualsounding Skate Or Die.

In this simulation, the player practices or competes in five different events against up to seven other friends, or one of three computer opponents.

The action begins in the skate shop, where the player is given the choice of signing in, choosing his board colour, and practising or competing in events. Selections are made by directing a small 'Skate Or Die' icon around the screen and pressing the fire over the desired option.

The player enters events by leaving the skate shop, whereupon an aerial view of the town square is shown, with labelled roads heading off in different directions. Five roads lead to individual events, and the sixth takes the player to each in turn. Selections are made by simply guiding the skateboarder to the desired road, at which point the events is separately loaded.

The first event features the attempt's at stunt work on a freestyle ramp - a large U-shaped construction made from steel and wood.

The player starts at the top of the left side of the ramp and ince launched, has ten complete passes to score as many points as possible by performing tricks and stunts. Stunts can be mixed together, and th emore difficult the manoeuvre, the higher the bonus points awarded. Those available include kickturns, rock 'n' roll, footplant, rail slide, handplant, aerial, and ollie air.

The next event - the high jump - also uses the ramp, but relies more on power then dexterity to achieve a good score. Speed is generated by rapidly moving the joystick from side to side, and the player has five complete passes to achieve the greatest height. If the player considers that he has reached his peak early, ha can mark the point, by pressing the fire button, and quit the event.

Leaving the high jump, the skateboarder's next port of call is the downhill race, in which he speeds through a parkway, dodging hazards by jumping, spinning, ducking and slide turning down the vertically scrolling course. Control may be switched netween 'regular' and 'goofy' - the former relating to control with respect to the landscape, and the latter with respect to the board itself.

The fourth event is another vertically scrolling downhill, this time involving a 'jam' through town. The player skates head-to-head against either a human or computer controlled opponent. The course is set within an urban environment, having dozens of potentially lethal hazards - hence the name of the game.

There are three types of punches and kicks at the players' disposal, which are used to gain points by damaging both the surrounding area and the opposition. Over-enthusiastic combatants who fail to watch the course, however, are rewarded by a variety of nasty comeuppances, not least of which is being reduced to chips via a chicken-wire fence!

The final event is the pool joust, where two players skate around an empty swimming pool, taking to knock each other off their boards using aa 'boffing stick'. Each player has five 'passes' round the pool with the padded bar, and the first one to have felled the other player three times is deemed the winner.

The contest must be won by at least two clear hits, so at two-all, the skaters enter a tie-break. In the absence of a human opponent, the player does battle against one of three computer-controlled skaters.

If the events are tackled as a proper competition, overall points are given for each event: five for a win, three for second placem and one for third. The overall winner is the skater with the highest total at the end of the final event.

Commodore owners are completely spoilt for choice this Christmas, with heaps of quality software around. At the forefront comes Skate Or Die, a program that has obviously had a large amount of attention lavished upon it.

If graphics alone could sell a game, EOA would be running out of tapes and disks. Skate Or Die has some of the most realistic animation and believable backdrops I've ever encountered on a 64. The downhill race through the park is a visual treat - it's practically like watching a film, such is the attention to detal and smoothness of the action.

The title music is also superb, although some of the individual game tunes are a little lacking. Aesthetics apart, each game is very addictive and has a variety of playing styles, which should endear it to a wide audience.

The single drawback is the interminable multiload, which tends to induce 'between game boredoom'. Still, a single load couldn't hope to compete with the package on offer here, and quality always comes at a cost.

The animation on Skate or Die is amazing! When I say that just skating normally, the figure rotates through SIX-TEEN different positions, you'll start to get some idea of the graphic quality.

In some events, such as ramp freestyle, there are over 200 frames! On top of that, there are beautifully detailed backgrounds with marvellous use of colour. But, not happy with assaulting the visual senses, Electronic Arts have put in a title tune that will not only blow your mind, but take it out and mail it to another planet.

Should you still not be satisfied, there's the gameplay, which is absolutely fabolous. This should meet the demands of the most pedantic skate freaks, and basically, if you're at all into trashing a board, this is as close as you'll get on a 64, short of bolting rollerskaters to the case.

Julian Rignall
Skate or Die has been a long time coming, but it has definitely been worth the wait. The events are very varied, and each one is accompanied by some absolutely stunning graphics. Realism is at a premium, and the sprites and backdrops are amongst the most lifelike ever seen on a Commodore - the detail is incredible.

I must confess to finding the joystick waggling high jump very limited, but the rest of the events have plenty of depth and oodles of playability. Both the freestyle and downhill race are very enjoyable, and each should take a long time to master - there are some great hidden bonuses which only the most proficient of skaters could ever hope to find.

A special mention has to go to the amazing Rob Hubbard title tune, complete with sampled guitar and organ - surely his best yet! Skate or Die's only bugbear is its multiload system - it's similar in structure to the Games style, but unfortunately the loading speed is very slow indeed, and it can become quite frustrating waiting for your favourite event to load.

This aside, Skate or Die is an extremely polished and playable sports game that should definitely be looked up.


Flawless in-game presentation, with blissfully simple icon driven commands, and excellent board control in all events. Let down, to a degree, by the painfully slow loader.
Animation as smooth as silk, and generally stunning graphics throughout..
Tremendous title tune, with soundtracks of varying quality for the individual events.
Easy enough to pick up and play - but proficiency takes practice.
There's always some small tweak to be made to your performance, and the computer opponents take some beating.
Without doubt a brilliant sports simulation, failing short of a higher accolde due solely to the annoyingly slow loading system.