Hey, it’s Rad Rat and today we’re going
to be talking about Skate or Die for the NES. This is a pioneer in early skateboarding games
and has a ton of different events to play. But is it still worth checking out in 2017? Let’s take a look. Skate or Die was released in 1988 for a bunch
of different personal computers, MS-DOS, and… the NES. Now, I was BORN in 88, so obviously, I didn’t
play it when it was new. My family was a little behind the times though,
so I did actually grow up with an NES until about 1996. I wonder what would have happened if I played
this back in the day. We had an old 80s skateboard that I would
jump around on sometimes, but I didn’t get serious about learning tricks until about
2001. So I’m coming into this game pretty fresh,
having just played it for the first time for this review. Let’s take a look at the game and see what
it has to offer. You know, skateboarding in the late 80s was
pretty awesome. There were a million different kind of events
out there – Downhill and slalom, vert, pool, street, park, miniramp and even freestyle. Hey, there’s a freestyle event? Let’s try that out! Oh… it’s just halfpipe. It’s a little weird that they named it after
another event that was still popular at the time. I mean, freestyle was starting to get less
common, but people knew what it was. The game calls it freestyle to differentiate
it from the highest air contest though. Let’s come back to this later. So when you start, you meet Rodney. Not Rodney MULLEN… He’s actually supposed to look like Rodney
Dangerfield. I don’t know why. Anyway, you can sign up for events and track
your high scores here. Multiple players can sign up. Or you can skip all of this and just go practice. This guy always has something different to
say. I bet they used half the memory of the game
to load him up with quotes. Let’s take a look at the events in order. First is the joust. You and an opponent take turns trying to knock
each other down in this pool. Basically you just steer around and run into
him. It’s a really weird event, but they really
wanted a pool in the game. Of course, you can’t skate it like a pool
and actually carve around the end or anything, but you can’t really expect that anyway,
given the hardware. This event can be really hard. It’s annoying. The difficulty changes based on what character
you’re playing against, but it’s not the kind of challenging that makes me want to
keep playing and getting better. This is definitely one of the weaker events. The downhill race is more of a competition
against the controls than an actual event. You can push, steer, duck and ollie. You get to choose between regular and goofy,
but it doesn’t actually switch your stance. Regular means that hitting left will mean
the character turns to HIS left. Goofy means that hitting left will move to
the SCREEN’S left. It’s cool that it gives you this option,
but either way can be pretty tough. It’s not responsive at all, so you can hit
left or right a couple of times, and he just won’t turn for a while, or you can hold
A to turn faster, but there are only a few sprites, so the direction you’re moving
isn’t always the angle your character is facing. Sure, maybe the NES couldn’t handle having
a lot of in-between sprites, but the spinning animation on the vert ramp is pretty good,
so who knows. The course has some shortcuts and things,
if you can get to them and Ollie at the right time. This event is really awkward and difficult,
and all you get at the end is a score anyway. So I didn’t really find myself pushing for
the best possible time… Nothing really happens. Even when you check the scores at the end,
you’ll be in first no matter how bad you did. Next is the downhill jam. No! No not that one. This is another competitive event that you
play against a computer-controlled player. This is also a downhill race, but the controls
are different from the other one. Your goal is to get to the bottom of the screen
before the other player, and you can get extra points for running over cans. In this event, you can actually attack the
other guy and knock him over, which makes it pretty easy. If you get stuck in something or YOU get knocked
over, it brings you back pretty close to the other guy, so you always have a chance at
winning. One weird thing is that you do a 180 when
you Ollie over stuff. I don’t know why it’s different in this
event. It just is. You win if you get to the end first and have
more points. If you knocked down a bunch of stuff and ollie
onto the cop car, you could probably lose the race and win the event on points. I found myself replaying this event pretty
often. It’s a little easier than the other ones,
and the controls don’t really get in your way as much. The next event is the high jump, my least
favorite. In this event, the only goal is to get a really
high air on your fifth wall. It doesn’t matter how high you get before
that. To pump, you just mash the left and right
buttons. This is kind of a classic NES thing. When there are only 2 buttons on your controller,
you only have so many different things you can do. So that’s the whole event. Just mash them as fast as you can and try
not to get a cramp before your fifth wall. The only indication that you did good or bad
is your character’s animation at the end of your run. You don’t get punished or rewarded at all
based on your performance. The last event is the big draw of the game,
the Freestyle Halfpipe contest.There’s actually a surprising amount of stuff you can do, considering
the limited capabilities of the system. In general, you pump by hitting the A button
at the right time, which is a lot better than the arrow mashing of the high jump, and you
steer and move with the D-pad. Up and down will allow you to travel around
the halfpipe, doing transfers over the roll-in, or turning stalls into grinds. The left and right buttons will spin while
you’re in the air. The spinning is pretty interesting. Aside from looking really good for the NES,
you start spinning by hitting left, let’s say, then you have to hit right to stop. It’s different from holding a direction
like in most games that came out later. It takes some getting used to, but I like
it. It feels more natural to start your rotation
then just let it go. There’s no ollie button, the height that
you get is based solely off of your speed. You can do spins all the way up to 720 if
you pump right. Doing back to back 720s isn’t going to get
you a great score though. You have to mix it up, and slow down so you
can do inverts and tailslides, and hold them longer for more points. There’s a bonus for the roll-in transfer,
you can tweak out your airs if you have enough time. There’s a surprising amount of depth and
strategy to this.There’s no way you’ll get anywhere just button mashing. After your 10 walls, your run is over. When you finish all of the events, you can
go back to the skate shop and check the high scores. You’ll be first at everything, regardless
of how well you did. I would think there would be some built in
CPU scores that you have to beat, but I think the game is really designed to play with multiple
people passing the controller around. But the game is so difficult to learn that
you probably won’t find anyone willing to sit through a whole playthrough. Skate or Die was probably a really good game
back in the day. But does it hold up? Well, obviously it’s been outdone by future
games. Even the Street Sk8er games for Playstation
are better in every way. But if you’re an NES fan and like the aesthetic
and feel of games from this time, it could be worth a look. I think it’s cool to have just to put on
a shelf, as a piece of skateboard history. You know, interestingly, there was supposed
to be a reboot of the series in 2002 by Criterion games. It was going to be an open world game, more
focused on exploration instead of tricks. They worked on it for a year, but it got cancelled
and Criterion later made the Burnout series instead. Who knows if it would have been any good or
not. I really wish I could have given it a try. So what do you think about Skate or Die? How does it compare to other games of the
era, like 720? Is there any reason to play it today? Let me know in the comments. If you liked the video, hit the like button
and subscribe for more stuff like this every single Tuesday, and sometimes bonus stuff
throughout the week. Here are some more videos that you might like
in the meantime. Thanks for watching!

Skater Reviews: Skate or Die (NES)
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52 thoughts on “Skater Reviews: Skate or Die (NES)

  • January 24, 2017 at 10:07 pm
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    first!

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  • January 24, 2017 at 10:15 pm
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    Digging the almost AVGN feel of seeing the game be put in and stuff. This game brings back memories, I remember it so vividly.

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  • January 24, 2017 at 10:17 pm
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    Skate or Die 2 was the shit.

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  • January 24, 2017 at 10:20 pm
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    finally! lol

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  • January 24, 2017 at 10:32 pm
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    Nice I've never even heard of this that's dope

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  • January 24, 2017 at 11:23 pm
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    Cooool maaaan

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  • January 24, 2017 at 11:38 pm
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    I'm guessing the jousting event was inspired by that fight scene in Thrashin'.

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  • January 24, 2017 at 11:43 pm
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    a great mobile skateboarding game that I found recently was a game called halfpipe hero by bit free games, it's free and easy to play

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  • January 25, 2017 at 12:08 am
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    That game was terrible back in the day imo. A couple of my friends had it, just wasn't that into it.

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  • January 25, 2017 at 12:51 am
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    I don't know if someone has asked you to do California games. but you should check it out.

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  • January 25, 2017 at 1:28 am
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    I was obsessed with this game when it came out. I started skating right before this game was released so naturally I went bananas. I remember getting into intense arguments with my friends whenever someone said anything bad about it. Deep down I knew it wasn't that great of a game but I still took it so personal. I still own it btw. 😉

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  • January 25, 2017 at 1:51 am
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    I recommend you check out Skate Lines for mobile, I have some vids of it on my channel.

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  • January 25, 2017 at 3:00 am
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    This was the first skateboard game I ever played when I was little and I played it to the death. Well, at least the half pipe section. This was then carried over into Skate or Die 2 with the half pipe with a spine and that's where I really spent a lot of time. These old games are such a great part of Skate/ video game history. I never knew Criterion was working on a Skate or Die reboot. That would have been really cool to see. Is there anymore footage or photos of that? Great review man! So cool to see you covering these older games.

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  • January 25, 2017 at 7:14 am
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    RAD RAT NIKKAAAAAAA

    Reply
  • January 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm
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    Ahhh! something I actually know about! spent A LOT of time on this one. Kinda funny to hear about your parents being "behind". I was born in 82 but was playing Atari when super Mario was making it's impact, then Nintendo when whatever the next console was the next big thing. Kinda the same story with skating. I was riding second hand Duane Peters size/shape decks in early to mid 90's, then got a football sort of shape Santa Cruze deck when the Popsicle stick shape was taking over. No skate shops, and hardly any skaters. I had to learn how to ollie on my own. My first ollies were on a deck with no nose and I'm 35. Do the math…My family was behind too. I felt your pain. lol

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  • January 25, 2017 at 7:13 pm
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    I used to have this for my commodore 64 computer back around 1990 . I used to play it all the time

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  • January 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm
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    the next best thing to the freestyle event is hitting the curbs in the level select at an angle and pretend it's a noseslide

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  • January 27, 2017 at 12:37 am
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    You should try the transworld game on mobile!

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  • January 28, 2017 at 7:59 pm
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    I was born at 1980 – I've used to love this game! 3.5/5.0

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  • February 3, 2017 at 5:27 pm
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    Fair review but I feel you missed out on the downhill race that was always my favourite course and always play goofy foot. the high jump took me forever to figure out but if you jam left and right buttons then wen your as high as you can get press like start
    or select and you skater will do a grab and set his high mark other than that you will just get whatever hight you made it to on the last try. Great game and great video

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  • February 5, 2017 at 3:55 am
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    Skate or Die 2 is by far the better game. The vert ramp mode with the spine is so rad. You can do stalled out inverts, Judo airs, backside boneless ones, big ol' Lien airs to fakie, and Mctwists. I still play it all the time and it never seems to get old.

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  • February 8, 2017 at 1:33 am
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    There's actually a reference to this game in Skate 3. By reaching 1,000,000 board sales, you can unlock a tank-top with the game's logo on it. It's called "Skate Or Die Tank"

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  • March 2, 2017 at 2:18 am
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    being 10 yrs old playing that game was badass then. freestyle was the shit.

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  • March 28, 2017 at 7:28 am
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    Others have already said it, but Skate or Die 2 on NES was amazing for its time. I spent hours playing the vert level as a kid. Nothing even came close to it until the 1st Tony Hawk game, IMHO.

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  • April 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm
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    I played the crap out of this game back in the day! The second one was way better though.

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  • April 9, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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    the c64 version is my favorite.

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  • May 3, 2017 at 4:50 am
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    the half pipe one is kinda fun to see what the best lines are you can get

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  • May 21, 2017 at 1:38 am
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    The load screen theme song is a classic "Skate or die… di-di-di-di-die".

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  • May 21, 2017 at 9:38 am
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    i had this when i was a young kid never new what it was called

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  • May 23, 2017 at 1:59 pm
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    It was not a great game back in the day. 720 was the standard (only playable in arcades) and this was as close as you could get if you wanted to play at home. It was barely better than T&C Surf Design but that's not saying much.

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  • May 30, 2017 at 7:37 pm
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    It was either this or the abysmal T&C Surf Designs, so we were pretty happy. The Downhill Race event was great because there was actual freedom to try several (not-so) hidden gaps: diagonal off the big ramp, across the island, off the porch, over/off the porch stairs, over the grass at the end. If the swapped the direction on both downhill parts it would've been a lot more fun.

    Really, a version of downhill race with more modern controls, a huge playfield, and scrolling up would make a really fun skate game.

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  • June 1, 2017 at 9:16 pm
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    Hey Aron! just wondering if 720 degrees for NES was on your review list!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 11:44 am
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    The Kevin Harris skull Mountie graphic is a classic.

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  • July 27, 2017 at 9:22 pm
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    Review 720…

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  • August 3, 2017 at 4:51 am
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    Had one of them on the game boy, it was a mix of overhead and side scrolling, loved it

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  • August 9, 2017 at 12:54 am
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    what was the old DOS game where you skate street? color palette was 8 colors & the curb was red/orange if i remember correctly? mostly just ollie/kick flip up curb, and grinding a rail? it had only one screen i remember, and you played for score.

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  • October 18, 2017 at 10:27 am
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    joust was my favorite one back in the day. you need two players for it to be fun.

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  • December 17, 2017 at 1:59 am
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    720 skateboarding is better

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  • April 2, 2018 at 1:22 am
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    Beside Mario,duck hunt,world track power pad game, This was the first game I had..Pretty cool to see it again

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  • April 19, 2018 at 6:06 am
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    skate or die 2 was sooo much better. The half pipe was the best in that

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  • May 26, 2018 at 8:35 am
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    Please review Skateboardin' on Atari 2600

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  • July 17, 2018 at 4:14 pm
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    This was a classic. Do the Game Boy one, Skate or Die Bad n Rad! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfQnaqf4KJM

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  • August 23, 2018 at 2:53 am
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    720 in the arcade was awesome nes version not as good

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  • August 28, 2018 at 10:26 am
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    I played this game alot and had alot of fun with it. The trick to dominate all high scores. You have to get the NES Advantage controller with Turbo. You will top out on all scores including the high jump. You will get around 13 ft.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 1:34 am
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    I played the sh!t out of that game when i was in a hospital when i was a kid it was fun AF

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  • December 4, 2018 at 9:08 pm
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    Found you by accident, almost insta-sub. Good video!

    Reply
  • April 13, 2019 at 4:00 pm
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    This is my childhood. Thank you Dr. Nostalgia!!

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  • April 29, 2019 at 4:23 pm
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    The stangest part of the game is how it's completely different from the arcade version, around the same timeframe. I was very surpriseda s a kid! "Skate or Die!" and a swarm of bees would chase you!!

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  • June 14, 2019 at 1:27 pm
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    I had no idea this existed… Those animations look fantastic for '88!

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  • July 26, 2019 at 6:37 pm
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    Doesn’t the guy call you a Poser at the skate shop lol

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  • August 5, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    This game sucks now, but just to have had a game like this back then, based on skating, something I loved doing, was awesome

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  • August 19, 2019 at 2:08 pm
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    I loved the joust event

    Reply

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