Skate or Die!
|Skate or Die!|
Ultra Games (NES)
Kouji Murata (NES)
|Mode(s)||1 - 8 players|
Skate or Die! is a skateboarding game released by Electronic Arts in 1988 for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Apple IIGS, Amstrad CPC, and IBM Compatibles running MS-DOS. It was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) by Konami, and published by Ultra Games. In 2007, the NES version was re-released for Nintendo's Virtual Console service in Europe (excluding France) and Australia. The Atari ST conversion was contracted to Codemasters, who contracted Kinetic Designs to do the work.
In the style of the Epyx "Games" series, players can compete in five different skateboarding events, either individually or sequentially. When the events are challenged sequentially, up to eight players could sign up to participate. The original Commodore 64 version was created by Michael Kosaka, Stephen Landrum and David Bunch. This group of programmers had previously been at Epyx and worked on the early "Games" titles. The idea for the game came from Producer Don Traeger, who had been inspired by a coin-operated skateboarding game from Atari called 720°.
The game featured two ramp events - the freestyle ramp and the high jump, two downhill events - the downhill race (in a park setting) and the downhill jam (in a street setting), and the pool joust. The pool joust, downhill jam, and the downhill race (in two player mode only) were all head to head, while the ramp events were single player. The joust, which was a hand-to-hand knockout competition (literally and figuratively), all of the event winners were decided by a point system.
Four characters were featured in Skate or Die!: Rodney Recloose, a wild man with a purple mohawk and a Marine Corps tattoo (and a facial resemblance to comedian Rodney Dangerfield) who runs a skateshop in the game, and his son Bionic Lester, an even wilder kid with a green flattop, who you were able to take on in the joust and the downhill jam. In the joust, Lester and his two cronies await the skater. Poseur Pete challenges beginners and Aggro Eddie takes on intermediate players, leaving Lester with the advanced pros.
The game was well liked with players on both the computer and console sides, and inspired a winterized sequel in Ski or Die in 1989 for the C64, Amiga, Atari ST, PC and NES, and a true sequel, Skate or Die 2 in 1990, a NES-only game. Ski or Die retained the multi-event format while Skate or Die 2 veered into "adventure" territory; both games featured Rodney and Lester as key players.
The C64 version of Skate or Die! was also well liked for its introductory music, a catchy rock-flavored tune with digital samples that took full advantage of the SID chip's capabilities. Composed by Rob Hubbard, one of the world's foremost game music composers, it has become a popular tune among modern fans of SID music and remixers of such tunes. For the NES port, Konami produced an arranged version of the tune for the NES's Ricoh 2A03 sound chip.
In 2002, Criterion Games, creators of the Burnout series, was working on a Skate Or Die remaster or sequel for the Playstation 2 and Xbox. However, due to Criterion having issues with Electronic Arts, the game was cancelled in 2003 in favor of Burnout 3: Takedown. It was in development for 12 months before it was cancelled.