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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Toys for Bob

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2003

 

 

- Uses the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 game engine to perfection
- Stellar visual presentation with the signature Disney/Pixar style
- Gives younger gamers a fun title to play without a high difficulty level

 

 

- Not much of a challenge for gamers over the age of 10
- Repetitively short Radio Disney soundtrack; not bad tunes but not enough of them
- For a game targeted at younger gamers, heavy dosage of subtly and not-so-subtly placed advertising branding seems a little too intrusive and nefarious in nature

 

 

Review: Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure (Gamecube)

Interview: Toys for Bob

Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (Xbox)

 

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Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure

Score: 8.2 / 10

 

disney's extreme skate adventure gamecube review          disney's extreme skate adventure gamecube review

 

Kingdom Hearts for the PlayStation 2 proved that you could combine the Disney cast of animated stars with a well-established game series that you wouldn’t ever expect to see Disney characters in and successfully create a solid and enjoyable video game.

So it shouldn’t be any surprise that what SquareSoft pulled off with Kingdom Hearts Toys For Bob duplicates by fusing Disney characters with Neversoft’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 engine and coming up with the kid-friendly Disney’s Extreme Skating Adventure (DESA).

I point out kid-friendly, because unlike the more mature demographic of Kingdom Hearts players, DESA is really a game that’s targeted to the under-10 crowd who

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still listens to Radio Disney and watches the Disney Channel, where all of the characters in DESA practically make daily appearances.

Also, despite the usage of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 engine, which helped create the toughest and most challenging THPS game yet, DESA is extremely easy to play. This is obviously done purposely so that young game

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players will be able to enjoy playing without much frustration, but it limits the audience that could possibly be interested in a solid skateboarding game, Disney characters or not.

Even though DESA is too easy for anybody older than 10, Toys For Bob does an amazing job nonetheless creating a very fun skating game for its intended audience with the unexpected element of animated Disney characters shredding and skating all over familiar locales from Toy Story 2, Tarzan, and The Lion King animated films.

Yes, that’s Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Tarzan and Jane (in their much-younger form, to appeal to the young game players), Simba, Rafiki, Pumbaa & Timon, and a host of other characters from the above-mentioned three Disney movies doing like Tony Hawk. Although they aren’t playable as skaters, there are more than a few cameos from supporting cast members throughout the game, such as Toy Story 2’s Hamm (no cheese).

What makes DESA so fun is the great skating action throughout the various levels with a bunch of animated Disney stars. It’s totally unexpected to see Buzz Lightyear grinding and flying around Pizza Planet on a galactic skateboard. But with the use of the THPS4 game engine, even Disney characters are 60-frames-per-second sweet skate veterans.

DESA’s both biggest problem and biggest appeal is its challenge level. For older gamers, you won’t have a difficult time at all breezing through the game, because the presence of the THPS4 engine is somewhat lessened by the toned-down difficulty. Most gamers who have played a THPS game will be able to get through the entire game in a few days. But the appeal is for younger gamers who may not have been able to successfully play THPS games because of their lack of gaming skills. Now, with DESA, they are able skate like a pro, albeit with a Disney character, not a professional skater.

 

disney's extreme skate adventure gamecube review          disney's extreme skate adventure gamecube review


That may somewhat explain the inclusion of the handful of “real” skaters that are in the game. Not shy to take advantage of any type of positive publicity, Toys For Bob and Disney actually had a contest to find real pre-teen skaters to include as playable characters in the game, giving the young DESA players someone to relate to as a real-life role model.

What’s a little bit disconcerting and scary is the sheer amount of advertising persuasion doused throughout DESA, particularly in Olliewood, where created characters or the “real-life” young skaters skate. Nokia and McDonald’s are just two of the most blatant branding attempts heavily pasted all over Olliewood.

Usually I don’t mind seeing name-branding in a game, because it can give a title some realistic “cred” that it wouldn’t have without it. But I have mixed feelings as a parent seeing my kids being smacked right over the head with corporate labeling while playing a game. It just has that “saturate you with advertising until you buy from us” message that can be downright scary or almost nefarious in nature.

Gameplay in DESA is just as great as THPS4, which should be expected, even with the Disney influence throughout. Instead of Tony Hawk ripping up the asphalt, it’s young Tarzan shredding the human camp. Just like THPS4, there are level-specific goals to meet, like spelling S-K-A-T-E or getting high scores. Once these goals are met, more skaters and levels can be unlocked. Each character has unique goals, and there are plenty of unlockables to discover.

Level design displays a lot of creativity. Buzz Lightyear and the Toy Story 2 crew can be found skating the confines of Andy’s Room and Pizza Planet. Tarzan and Jane swing into a jungle tree house and Clayton’s ship. Each of the game’s levels is huge with plenty of terrain to explore.

Character design retains a good level of Disney touches, with a colorful splash of Disney animation. But although they are well animated, they leave room for improvement considering their pedigree in the cartoon realm.

Good tunes that you can hear everyday on the local Radio Disney station are wafting all over the soundtrack, but there is not enough variety. Listening to the same tunes from Lil’ Romeo and Smashmouth over and over can get to be annoying quickly for the older parent player. The game does have the Xbox soundtrack feature available for a homebrewed music flavor.

Surprisingly there isn’t a lot of character dialogue that you could have expected from a game with so much Disney elements in it. Each character does say various individualized phrases while skating or even more when a character bails. But most of what dialogue is spoken is disappointingly heard few and far between in a game that could have been a lot more fun with more funny phrases to hear.

A big plus for parents who have more than one child in the DESA’s target demographic is the multiplayer modes, which only allows two people at once to play, but in my household at least, helped keep the peace between two girls just wanting to have skating fun at the same time. Another feature that kids will enjoy is the create-a-skater feature that gives them the opportunity to “star” in the game themselves.

If you have youngsters in the household who were relegated to only being able to watch while you played THPS4, DESA is the perfect opportunity to give them the controls of some similar skating video game fun with some of the popular Disney universe stars. DESA won’t have much shelf life for anybody over the age of 10, but provides a good game for some parent versus young children gaming that there are sadly very few chances to play in today’s gaming world.

Most titles are either targeted directly at young players or a more mature audience. It’s rare to find a great game that parents can actually play against their children. DESA and its less taxing difficulty level actually gives children a chance to defeat their parents in a video game.

Again, if you’re an older gamer without any children or young siblings, DESA will not be much lasting fun for you, no matter how much you enjoy skateboarding games. But DESA should be given serious consideration by all parents looking for a good game for younger children whether for themselves or some good family competition, especially if you are a parent that can overlook the nefarious advertising.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com
(October 11, 2003)

 

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