From Ratchet & Clank to The Simpsons to, uh, Metal Gear Solid, I look back at the interesting history of skateboards in games not specifically designed as skateboarding games.
Note: the writing with a strikethrough is cut content.
I’ve had a mixed history with skateboarding. While classics like Tony Hawk’s and Skate have made huge impacts on my life, I’ve also rammed into a lamppost at 15mph while going downhill and, even worse, played The Simpsons Skateboarding. While I’d love to make “Skate should return” video essay 5060, I thought it’d be interesting to instead look at the history of skateboards in non-skateboarding games… which no one else in the history of the Internet has apparently thought to do, research for this video took fucking hours.
The game that immediately comes to mind for me is Bully. At any time you can summon a skateboard from Jimmy’s asshole by pressing L2 and R2, which you can use to ride around the open world. While on it you can press circle to olli and… well that’s it actually. Still better than The Simpsons Skateboarding. I’ve always loved Bully’s implementation of it because it’s such a unique transportation method. Cars, planes, helicopters, they’ve all been done to death. But this funky ass contraption? That’s real shit. Unfortunately, the skateboard was introduced late into the game’s development so it’s not incorporated into the missions much, but it’s still a great inclusion. It’s especially neat because San Andreas was originally planned to have this but they scrapped it, probably because San Andreas’ open world takes fucking millenniums to navigate with a jet, nevermind a plank with wheels, so it’s cool they ended up using that idea here.
A game that did implement its skateboard in missions is the Jak & Daxter series. Well the “Jak” series because Naughty Dog got sick of Daxter’s shit by the end of Precursor Legacy apparently. Jak II and 3 allow you to use a skateboard, well ackshully it’s a hoverboard, at any time and, its implementation is fantastic. You can do front flips, 360s, grind, olli, wow an olli no way, and all this is ackshully incorporated into the missions. There’s sections you can only get through by grinding pipes, oo did it just get hot in here, as well as challenges based on getting points in an alloted time, and fuck these missions so many hours trying to get gold holy fuck.
Kingdom Hearts II features a similar implementation. Kingdom Hearts II, what? I feel their thought process for this was “right, the whimsical fantasy crap has reeled in the nerds, now how do we attract those damn hoodlums? [Big Smoke oooohhhh as a skateboard appears on screen] It’s also amazing here. It’s like Jak’s implementation but on steroids, because you can use it to get around and do tricks, but there’s even more tricks and the movement is even smoother. It also features minigames with it such as… woah no way, a minigame where you earn points by doing tricks! I don’t know how a game about Goofy being the son of God, or whatever this confusing ass story is, is one of gaming’s best representations of skateboarding but, here we are.
And, uh, that’s it, in terms of skateboarding as a core gameplay mechanic. The Sims 3 Into the Future DLC features a hoverboard as a movement thing and the Disney Infinity games have an Incredibles themed hoverboard you can use because, of course. But, other than that it’s quite a small lineup, which is a real shame because these games use it brilliantly and, as I said, it’s so refreshing compared to the usual cars and planes used in every game ever, I don’t understand why more games don’t use it because skateboards can be used for so many unique and interesting levels. Fortunately, skateboard representation doesn’t end here because many games feature it in the form of… minigames!
The most infamous example is Spyro: The Third – Reloaded. From time to time you’ll bump into Hunter who, for no reason other than because it’s 1999, will ask if you want to capture lizards on a skateboard. Spyro is lowkey as fast on foot but okay. I’ve always seen mixed reactions to this but I really like it. It’s simple but it doesn’t overstay its welcome, making it a fun diversion from the regular gameplay.
Again, you can do tricks, skate around… I dig it.
Insomniac would continue this in Ratchet & Clank… except this time as a hoverboard, why does it always have to be a hoverboard? What is wrong with wheels? This time they come in the form of races and… I love it here too. The two tracks are well designed with many clever ways to take shortcuts, and the idea that doing tricks gives you speed boosts is a genius way to fuse the racing and tricks aspect. It also led to the incredible growing breasts easter egg which, as someone who respects women, is something that I think is just terrible a-and totally uncalled for.
Metal Gear Solid 2… has a skateboarding minigame, I mean this is the franchise that has multiple collaborations with Ape Escape so fuck it, sure. It, uh, it’s kind of ass, though. It’s based off of one of Konami’s other works, Evolution Skateboarding, and that just went great! For what it is though – a bonus, optional thing to mess around with – I actually like it. It’s passable… meh.
Now, we’ve seen skateboards. We’ve seen many, many hoverboards. But what we haven’t covered yet… is the FunkyBoard. Rayman 3 features these trippy LSD sequences where you platform on a hoverbo- “FunkyBoard” (trademark) and it’s absolutely amazing. The visuals are creative and fun. The platforming is tight and addictive. The music fucking slaps. I also remember finding it quite difficult as a kid but, every let’s play I watch of this is completed with ease so I think I was just a dumb kid. I also like it because it’s so different to everything else here. Most of the others are doing tricks in open spaces or acting as forms of transportation, whereas these are linear sections focused on 3D platforming (and giving me a stroke). Rayman 3 in general is one of the most creatively brilliant games I’ve ever played and these sequences embody everything I love about it.
There’s a similar minigame in Danganronpa 2 called Logic Dive. This also features the player in a trippy area platforming to avoid death, like a parkour enthusiast on drugs in Detroit I don’t know, but the big twist here is that, at certain intervals, you have to pick a path based on a question. For example, it will ask a question about whether something exists and you answer by going on the blue path or red path. If you’re wrong you die, they’re playing hardball. Like Rayman 3 it’s creative, has catchy music and is just generally really fun. It’s not called FunkyBoard though so it’s objectively worse.
The LittleBigPlanet games also use it for platforming. I remember playing a ton of community created levels where you’d have to try and stay on the skateboard as it launched up steep ramps and, I sucked at those too and that wasn’t as long ago, I think I’m just bad at video games. With the game’s floaty platforming it’s really fun and, like Rayman, a very unique and creative usage.
Tokyo Xanadu and Tokyo Xanadu e capital X, not a normal X capital X, plus mc = 2 to the power of 10 cubed, features a skateboarding minigame where you grab flags on a golf course… Japan. I haven’t played this but, based on my elite research, the controls are stiff and watching a let’s play of it held my attention for… exactly 1 minute and 29 seconds. Can’t say much more than that but my first, second hand impressions is that it’s meh.
But don’t worry, because Tokyo’s representation of skateboarding will be salvaged later this year courtesy of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 so many words in this title. The game features a skateboarding minigame and, I mean it entails Yoshi on a skateboard. We all thought the genre peaked with Tony Hawk and Skate but, nope.
Lastly, there’s a few games that use a skateboard as a… weapon. The Simpsons has had a million games over the years and, as a part of those, has featured Bart using his skateboard. The game I remember most fondly in this regard is The Simpsons Arcade game, which is a fighting game that allows you to move and beat up people with a skateboard if you play as boy Lisa. It’s a short but fun experience, just like [black screen with “insert sex joke here” while the FunkyBoard song plays]
The other game is PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. While PaRappa The Rapper is shown with a skateboard in his games, his All-Stars appearance features his most prominent usage of it. You can not only beat up people with it, but it’s also one of PaRappa’s special moves. Activating it allows you to skate around the stage and kill people on impact, just the image I associate with PaRappa The Rapper. It’s a lot of fun and, well, look… Smash Bros. doesn’t feature killing people with a skateboard so… I’m not saying All-Stars is objectively better because of this, but, it is, yeah.
Lastly, there’s World of Warcraft. Actually it’s not but, while researching for this video, I found this forum post of someone recommending they add skateboarding to World of Warcraft and, it was received well.
Overall, skateboards and video games have gone together perfectly. For every The Simpsons Skateboarding there’s Rayman tripping balls and anime boi doing smooth as heck heelflips. On a fundamental level though, skateboards are a fantastic and fresh form of in-game movement and it baffles me more games haven’t utilised this sexy piece of tree. Skateboarding Yoshi is out soon though guys so, this feature has a very bright future.
Next time we’ll be looking back at my porn career so, until then, drink your calcium and I’ll see you guys soon.