Genre: Racing Developer: Electronic Arts Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
Skitchin’ takes us back to 1994 when EA was all bright and shiny with great games like Road Rash and General Chaos, and when its games were simplistic and fun, like in Road Rash. Skitchin’ isn’t much of a difference from that Genesis hit (it runs on the same engine and has the same five frames per second). EA must have thought “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” because this game is just like Road Rash in that it’s all about turning up the volume and your Genesis. Now, let’s play Skitchin’.
In this game, you’ll skate from Vancouver to San Francisco and many more cities, but I won’t tell the story completely. Suffice it to say that you race for the world skitchin’ championship, and that it’s a matter of knowing how to win by fighting through the mud and ending up clean. The key to victory is similar to that of Road Rash: inflict as much pain as possible! That’s right, here you can find many weapons to beat your way to victory, from the nitro boosters to electric rods, bats, nunchucks etc. – all of which fell out of a police car or were donated or left by some friendly hooligans. Enemies, like you, have a stamina bar, and beating them until it empties earns you a knockdown. If they manage to empty yours, it’s off to the hospital, where you’ll be retired from the race and slapped with a fee.
Brutal as it may sound, the temptation is hard to resist. ”Here’s your ticket for speeding, but there’s no ticket for bleedin” is the law of the land, and this game is about skating and hitchin’ onto cars, a fast and fun way to victory, if not a safe one. Finish with quality points and you will reach the bonus for extra money to buy some gear in the skater’s shop. This comes in handy later during the game, as even the best racing equipment needs replacing (you have to constantly maintain your six pieces of gear, as indicated by their color-coded status), and racers always have the need for more speed. Just be sure to not get caught by the police. Getting arrested means losing races, and you can’t enter any others if you run out of money. Thankfully, there is a password system so you won’t end up road rashed.
The gameplay is simple and straight forward. You can press B to skate, use A to hitch, C to punch, and use the controller to skitch. During the game you can perform tricks, like jumping ramps and other objects, all of which earns you money, providing you earn a decent score from the judges. The way to show your skill is to follow the loops and press any direction on the D pad to show off your moves.
Visually, Skitchin’ looks a lot like you’d expect from a game using the Road Rash engine. Animals scale with the road, and the characters, who vary from mohawked punkers to Eddie Vedder clones, are animated very well (you can see their clothes ripple). The graphics have aged decently, even the nice scaling. The vehicles are very well-drawn, and you see the detail in each one, like tail lights and license plates. The backgrounds are pumped full of detail like houses, though they lack a bit in color, and the clouds hanging in the sky look weird to me for some reason.
In contrast, the audio is pretty outstanding. A blow to the head sounds like it should, be it from a pipe, bat, or rod. The sound effect are good, and the music is even better, and you’ll want to crank it up (not bad for an early Genesis game!). The bass has the funkiness, and the grungy guitar fits the mood.
Overall, Skitchin’ is a fun and great game from the days when Electronic Arts actually seemed to be as determined to put smiles on people’s faces as it was to make money. This is a fun game, but today’s audience might find it a bit rough around the edges, especially after playing the later Road Rash games.
SCORE: 8 out of 10