Skateboarding (Go Vacation) – Impressions

Skateboarding is a huge part of Go Vacation, not only do several games focus on it, but it’s a primary method of transportation around the City Resort. When I was first thrust into the City Resort, I felt like a bit of a retard trying to control the skateboard. The concept of having to move both the Wiimote and Nunchuck in the direction I wanted to go was bizarre and felt awkward. Not only that, but to go forward, you have to shake the controller up and down to take off. This is unlike any other skateboarding game I’ve played; it’s very physical and everything is done by motion. Can’t I use the joystick and hold B? No. The reason for this begins to make sense very slowly, using motion for primary movement frees up the joystick and buttons for spinning and doing tricks while you’re in the air, and having motion turning lets you still move while spinning. The use of motion turning and accelerating also makes the entire experience of jumping, tricking and grinding more connected and active. It really gives you a solid feeling of balance, as you land from a jump and have to steadily correct the controllers to keep going. The simple act of going straight, keeping speed, and jumping from one place to the next is the challenge in this game. Whenever I screw up, it’s because I’m shaking when I should be turning or vice versa. The challenging aspect here is holding everything together and being consistent with your movements. It’s an amazing use of Wii controls to create a NEW experience, and after spending a few hours mastering the skateboarding mini-games I’m absolutely in love with it.

Here’s an example of everything coming together beautifully. It wasn’t until after the game tested me with these trick challenges, that I could accurately and ENJOYABLY travel around the city in free roaming mode and get lost just grinding and tricking on everything in sight. Once you get your bearings, the tricks themselves are just relatively simple button combinations, and the tricks in Go Vacation are consistent between almost all vehicles in the game: from the ATV to the surfboard. They have different names, but the button combinations are similar; it gives some consistency to the Go Vacation experience and makes each new sport more accessable.

For the skateboard, there’s separate mini-game challenges for tricks, racing, half-pipe, and grinding, and I recommend doing each one individually to get good at each aspect before giving up on using the skateboard to travel. Grinding is fairly simple: just hold your balance by tilting. The challenge in keeping a long grind going is jumping from one rail to the next and moving in mid-air when necessary. The game is pretty generous with where you land; if you slightly miss the rail, it’ll just guide you straight onto it. The grinding mini-game takes you to some amazing places above the city and it’s worth trying to see how far you can go.

Half-pipe jumps are a bit awkward however, for some reason if you actually swing up and jump it screws it up. It took me a while to figure out that you don’t press ANYTHING to go up the half-pipe, this is the only way you’ll go up it properly and land at the same angle. If you try and jump, you’ll go forward, over the half-pipe and into the wall or the next area. A good option to have, but slightly confusing at first, and finding the moment when you can start doing tricks is… tricky… oh ho ho.

If you still hate the skateboard, there’s also the option of skates, which are basically the same thing except with different animation and a slight difference in handling. Every skateboard mini-game has the option of skates, and the same basic controls apply. The core controls of skateboarding / rollerskating aren’t perfect however; sometimes moving small distances is really annoying when you have to tilt the thing for a few seconds just to face the other way, and when you start going forward you really take off pretty fast. You can always get off the thing and walk around the resort, but it’s much slower and less engaging. The City Resort is a giant playground for the skateboard, and you’ll need to jump and grind to get to certain secret places and treasure chests. Namco did a great job creating a new gameplay method, and incorporating it into the core gameplay experience. It’s a good example of how Go Vacation comes together and feels like a complete experience, using the skills you learn in the mini-games to improve your holiday time.

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