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We are in a golden era for video game skateboarding »GossipChimp

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Session: Skate Sim. | Image: Crea-ture Studios

The past few years have been a great time for skating recreational enthusiasts. After all, the spotlight was on the 2020 remaster of the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, but there’s also the slick cell-tackle shredding with Skate City and the ridiculously over-the-top OlliOlli World from earlier this year. What’s nice is that each of those titles has its own personal taste, whether you want to get a short session in your phone or not grind through an alien panorama. Now we have yet another approach to digital skateboarding – and it’s probably essentially the most sensible one I’ve ever performed.

Session: Skate Sim is out now after a hiatus from early entry, and it’s one thing from a religious successor to the Skate series (which itself is making a comeback with a free-to-play title). The thinking is that the controls are designed to mimic the texture of actual skateboarding. Each of the analog sticks in your controller represents a foot, and you also get tips from an analog option for use on a precision board. So if you want to ollie, keep one foot down and push up with the opposite; if you want to handbook, keep one foot half down and try to stabilize for as long as you can. Doing extra difficult things, like sharpening or flip-tips, involves pushing mixtures off your toes in plenty of instructions. When you use change, the controls are reversed because your toes have changed location. You know, like real skateboarding. The digital camera can be zoomed in and even closed behind your skater to give you a greater sense of being on the ground.

It’s bound to take some getting used to coming from high scores behind arcade-style video games like Tony Hawk. You don’t get ridiculous combos right away – if ever. Session in fact, doesn’t have a rating system in any way, so you don’t get the urge to see huge numbers flashing on the screen when you finish a run. Instead, pulling down an advanced trick is satisfying in and of itself, largely because it’s so laborious to do.

In my first hour or two, I couldn’t do much after a kickflip. Every time I tried to grind a rail and even ollie over a small obstacle, my skater flew. Session has a relentless physics system that requires precision. This means that if you try to slide down a rail, for example, your board won’t click to the ground routinely, like in many video games; as a replacement, it’s important to fully list issues to get it done. Any mistake in timing or placement will make your skater go nuts like a truly dramatic crash check dummy. (While the core gameplay in Session can be very reliable for real world skateboarding, the crashes are hilariously exaggerated.)

Session has a really easy single player marketing campaign that will help you learn some basics. You can complete missions to learn strikes and earn some money to buy clothes and skateboard components. But for most half I’ve had fun solving problems on my own, wandering the streets – Session has ranges based primarily on San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia, and discovering spots to pursue new tips.

It really boosted my memory while skating as an adolescent: I discovered a stair or ledge that felt right in the recreation, then I repeated a certain trick until I finally got the hang of it. It sounds annoying, but once the problems arose, it was very enjoyable. I could really feel myself higher. The first time I jumped on a ledge I went straight into a textbook and then came out with a heel, so satisfying. It might sound like a relatively easy trick, and I could do it by simply pressing some buttons Tony Hawk. But in Session, I had to earn it.

This also means that Session is definitely an acquired style. It has problem settings, but no matter which setting you select, it is still a problem. One of the pause menus even displays a warning: “Session is a difficult game and will test your patience. Let us advise you.” Just like real skateboarding, though, if you stick with it, that stamina can be rewarded. And if not? Well, there are many different fun skate video games for different tastes. Meanwhile I try to jump down these stairs for the twelfth time. I will land, it will certainly happen.

Session: Skate Sim launches on September 22nd on PC, PlayStation and Xbox.

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