Vans Sk8: Pool Service is a skating game by Fuel Games. $4.99
Vans Sk8: Pool Service [App Store] is the first game to be released on the App Store by Fuel Games. Vans Sk8 was created to include some big names in skating, with Bucky Lasek and Omar Hassan featured in the game. This is the next step in skateboarding on the App Store, after Illusion Labs brought TouchGrind which focused primarily on rails and tricks on the ground.
Vans Sk8 takes skating to the skies. The game is set in an empty swimming pool instead of the local skate park’s bowl. It is a great change that fits in well with one of the missions, which I will get to later. The game is great in the graphics department and with all the different tricks and movement in the game, it doesn’t lag or glitch up at all. The game has lots of different songs to listen to while playing the game instead of boring sound effects of rolling wheels. Bucky and Omar also feature with some voice input after the game.
This game is one of the best that I have seen graphically. While there is only one pool to skate in, it has been lovingly created and has a lot of detail. It is good to see that games of PSP/DS quality graphics are being made by developers that aren’t well known on the App Store. Games like Vans Sk8 show what the future of the App Store will be, and at the moment it is looking bright. The two characters, Bucky and Omar, have been crafted to actually look like them. I would be proud of this game if I was one of the skaters featured on it. It’s just a superb game.
Fuel Games has done very well to make this game completely reliant on what the iPhone provides instead of putting a dirty D-Pad on the screen. Instead of the old press A-Left or B-Down to pull a trick, you use the touch screen to decide what trick to do. Using one or two fingers, depending on the trick, you touch in the middle of the screen and drag your finger up, down, left or right. If the trick requires two directions then each finger must go in that direction. This is a great idea and makes it very simple to pull tricks. While there are a lot to remember and some challenges require certain tricks, pausing the game lets you have the option to look at the tricks list. To move your skater in the pool you tilt in the desired direction. This is very realistic to real skating as you can’t do quick U-turns in the same spot. While in the air you can tilt left or right to spin while doing tricks so that Lien Air can soon turn into a 720 Lien Air, giving you extra points. Last but not least is the most important part, Grinding. Grinding provides you with a higher number on your multiplier for Timed Run and helps out a lot. To grind you have to hold down two fingers either before you hit the lip or while in the air. You will start to grind as soon as the board gets to the lip. You must tilt left or right to stay upright, otherwise you will stack. To change to a boardslide you take one finger off the screen after already grinding. I have managed to grind for the whole 90 seconds, but it is certainly a challenge.
The soundtrack on the game is done by artists who I believe have tracks in other skating games. I will be playing or even on the menu and think to myself, I’ve heard this song. The game is played with music instead of sound effects of skating. Almost all games like this do that as it heightens the ‘coolness’ factor of the game if it has great music in the background. The songs change regularly and I really enjoy listening to them.
There are two modes of play. One is career mode and the other is free ride. You will be spend 95% of your time in career mode as the only thing quick play offers that career mode doesn’t is skating without a time limit.
Career mode focuses around one event called Timed Run. Career mode starts you off with a very good tutorial to get to know the controls and how to play the game. The tutorial starts with text instructions on how to play the game before taking you into the pool itself. There are some set instructions to do such as steering, grinding and doing tricks. The tutorial can be completed at any time in career mode under the event called ‘Training.
The entire career mode is based around the ‘Timed Run’ mode. The objective of this is to get as many points as you can, as well as achieving certain objectives to unlock more challenges. There are nine other different modes ranging from getting so many points by grinding to picking up trash from around the pool. Each of these nine challenges are unlocked by doing three certain achievements. The challenges can be unlocked in any order depending on what achievements you unlock. For example some of the achievements require you to perform certain tricks or get so many points in the 90 seconds or in your entire career. Getting so many achievements unlocks new skateboard decks for you to use and completing challenges unlocks different wheels to you to use. Currently they do not have any extra attributes or anything attached to them. The challenges are generally a lot harder to complete than getting achievements so it takes a lot of practice to actually win some of them.
The actual game itself runs very much like a console version when the skater is in a bowl, but with different controls. The basic moves are all available likes spins, grinds and aerial tricks. No tricks can be made while skating in the pool however. I don’t want to delve into how the tricks are made as it will all be covered in the Controls section, but they work very well for what the game is trying to deliver. The physics of skating are done well, as on the first time you get air you can’t get high enough to successfully pull off a trick, but you can afterwards. One thing I did find though is that if you land sideways you don’t crash, but I suspect that in real life you would do that while skating. Other than that it is a great game, which has been crafted to give the ultimate skating experience.
This as you can probably guess is a superb game to get. $4.99 for this game is a complete bargain, as I would expect paying upwards of $7 for it. While the amount of variation in gameplay isn’t much, I heard that there are meant to be more bowls and such coming. This is as close as we can come at the moment for a complete skating game like Tony Hawk on the iPhone, with free roam and the ability to do tricks on other ramps and such, but this is an excellent starter. It shows games like this are possible on the iPhone and will hopefully developers will strive to improve. An amazing game in all aspects, right down to the garbage bags that disrespectful people leave in the pool. Anybody who enjoyed Touchgrind or is into skating should check this out. You will have a ‘radical’ experience!
I would recommend this game if you enjoyed- TouchGrind
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