Review: Super Skateboardin’ (Atari 7800)

In this review, we find ways of saving on energy in the Atari 7800 game Super Skateboardin’. We decided to find out if this puzzle game is worth playing.

This game was released in 1988.

If you are scratching your head at the first paragraph, then you’ll know that all is not what it seems with this game. While this game does center around the idea of skateboarding, this game is largely a puzzle game.

It seems that everything in the Super Skateboarin’ building was left on. You, being the last employee left in the building, are tasked to turn everything off before you leave. As the seconds tick by, more energy is being wasted and the electric bill is probably being ran up by the second. The faster you turn everything off, the better.

Of course, there is a catch to this. This building contains no stairs or elevator. Instead, you are supposed to navigate through a series of tubes whenever you want to change floors. Just duck as you fly through to ride one up or down.

Once you turn everything in the building off, the energy used fill finally grind to a halt and the only thing left to do is find the exit.

As it turns out, the building is basically one giant maze. You can jump to turn off lights or avoid turning things back on. If you pass by something that is turned off, it’ll turn back on. Jumping can avoid this in an effort to shave a few seconds off your run.

The things you turn off can be as mundane as a set of three lightbulbs, computers, and printers. There are also projectors, fountains, table saws (?), and crushing devices (???). Everything uses power and the more things you turn off, the slower the rolling energy bill will get racked up.

While it may seem impossible to really die in this game, there is one way you can kill yourself. All you have to do is make your way to the roof and skate right off. You can skate either to the left or right side of the roof. Either way, you can die doing this. Avoiding death is very easy. Just know that there are only two chutes on the roof. Once you get onto the roof, enter the first chute you come across.

Navigating this maze can be extremely confusing at first. One way to help yourself through on the first few runs is to take mental notes. If you pass by a chute, remember it for later when you finally back-track. Eventually, you’ll be able to memorize the maze enough to make switching things off a breeze (more or less).

A problem with this game is the fact that the game has next to no replay value. After a few successful runs, the game gives you virtually no reason to keep playing other than to try and beat your own time and power consumption. Even then, this gets tedious after a few runs.

It is also pretty odd to title this as if this is supposed to be some kind of skateboarding game. To be fair, it’s hard to come up with very many exciting titles besides that for this game. Energy Saver? Maybe not. Switch Off? Dull. Efficiency Man? Hah, no. So, a misleading title it is.

Generally speaking, the concept is not that bad. The execution was actually fairly decent. It’s unfortunate that there is hardly any replay value in this game. This makes this one of those games you play a couple times before moving on. I don’t regret playing this game. It offers some pretty interesting gameplay. It just has a remarkably short shelf life.

The graphics are not bad. They aren’t amazing by any means, but they aren’t bad either. Some rooms are, unfortunately, a little plane though.

While the sound effects were decent enough, this game definitely needed way more music. In fact, there are some nice options for music for this game. One option might be that the music starts off very likely and almost overwhelming, but as you power things off, the music dies down. Maybe the tempo slows and certain instruments fade. Another possibility is to have different music for different floors. It doesn’t have to be 8 minute tracks, but just enough for an auditory difference. After all, you aren’t on these floors for long. Unfortunately, this ended up being a missed opportunity.

Overall, this game is not what you’d think it is when you see the title and box. The puzzle concept is quite interesting and offers some interesting gameplay. It’s unfortunate that the game has virtually no replay value here. After a few runs, there’s little reason to keep playing. The graphics are OK, but some rooms are very barren. The audio was OK, but represents a large missed opportunity on the part of the developers. A decent all around game only held back by poor replay value.

Furthest point in game: Everything turned off. Best “score”/time
Energy used: 3410
Time: 10:33.

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 3/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 64%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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