Developer: Electronics Arts
Publisher: Electronics Arts
Format: SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Pull on your three quarter length cargo pants, route out and throw on your finest wife-beater or the female equivalent, also a wife-beater, and throw that cap on your head but don’t forget to turn it backwards. Stick on the month old (or so) Blink 182 or Red Hot Chilli Peppers album and boot up your Sega Genesis and throw on Skitchin’.
The sad reality of the present is that you probably don’t have your Sega and Skitchin’ still in your possession but all the other items are highly available either in your home or at the click of a button. All are essentials before you start your 90s adventure of playing Skitchin’, a ‘clever’ play on skating and hitchin’ presumably the two most popular things in the 90s. Are you ready dude? Radical!
Before we go any further I’ve to ask one vital question… Did/do you like Road Rash? If you just uttered the word ‘no’ then why are you here? In fact get off this website you sick freak! What’s not to love about battering other bikers when driving dangerously down a winding road with enough traffic and cops to make it a pain in the ass if you actually had to drive on it in real life? Well!? Oh right, you’ve probably left. Now that all the heretics are gone I can tell you guys about Skitchin’. But first…
Coming just two years after Road Rash and constructed of almost the same elements barring some graphical amendments, and one fairly decent gameplay change, you’d be forgiven for thinking both were the same game except that you wouldn’t because in Skitchin you clearly don’t have a motorbike. It’s pretty damn noticeable. Without getting into the game you’ll see plenty of differentiating factors such as the graffiti styled menu screens.
It took me a bit to decipher some of the menu but remember this was the 90s. The game also seems to have some story line but I jammed on every button to skip right over the opening dialogue before my first race so I’m not sure what it is. I assumed, and correctly might I add, that because it’s a racing game the only real objective is to win the rest and have all the losers eat your… er… Skate dust!? …Or your first! …OR a giant pipe.
Everyone knows the perfect image of Skitchin isn’t complete without some weaponized violence while skating down a main road filled with obstacles, ramps, oil slicks and traffic. It all seems far too safe so mix in the extra challenge of performing stunts off the scattered ramps littering the opposite side of the road – which has a grand ‘ol zero cars for the first few races. The jumps involve you pressing a variety of keys as you hit the ramp to twirl, kick out or whatever your heart desires with the exception of ensuring it’s in the game. Like all the stunts you do in real life, you’ll be scored on these by a panel of judges that pop up after every stunt jump.
For a large portion of the game you will be grabbing hold of passing cars and, somehow, going double their speed once you let go of the vehicle. For my first three races I thought the ‘A’ button did nothing but hold out a hand and it wasn’t until I noticed one of the AI, grabbing his free ticket to a higher place in the race, did I release that you could even do that. I spent the next 3 races as a grabbing master holding on to all the cars and then punching any contenders from my might metallic stead.
Throughout the race there are various weapons scattered along the road. You can pick these up by crouching as you go over them but best of luck to you seeing them because the only time I ever noticed them was when I was going by them. Surprisingly a gigantic pole in the street doesn’t trip you or your opponents as you skip on by with your superior, pole-ignoring skates. Pity those skaets don’t work for the flat oil slicks or low handing road signs. In fact what are the government spending their money on in the Skitchin universe because every road you skate on is in a complete state of disrepair.
Race after race I found myself growing in confidence with the game punching my way to the top and humming along to the MIDI punk tunes on offer because the 90s time capsule wouldn’t be a true reflection of the 90s without MIDI or punk so that’s two birds with one stone. Either way the songs aren’t actually bad and help to keep you going once you get tired of the gameplay and unlike the mighty Road Rash, you will get bored of the back to back repition of racing. Maybe, and this is just a wild theory, skating isn’t half as fun or exciting as riding a motorbike at high speeds chain in hand.
Skitchin has a two year graphical advantage and it’s noticeable enough that the team made the most of the extra experience or, you know, the template already created from their previous title but the concept was never going to improve on the motorbiking madness before it. Also what’s with the rear view mirror?
My retro review score:
Screenshots pulled this video.