Maybe it's just the bad taste left in our mouths from all the craptacular Game Boy Tony Hawk games, but our initial expectations for this handheld version of Downhill Jam weren't very high. Imagine our surprise when it turned out to be just as fast and frenzied as the Wii version due out next month.
Forgoing the open-ended worlds of previous Tony games, Jam points your board only one direction - down. All the grinding, flipping and tricking is intact, though, so you're getting a sweet mix of head-to-head racing and goal-oriented course runs - a totally new movement for the series. Even though all the tracks are one-way, their serpentine construction offers plenty of paths to the bottom.
While you might be rolling down the main road in San Francisco, one rival skater is grinding across the rooftops and the other is sliding down power lines that blanket the street. One well-placed ramp later, you're cutting through a house and breaking ahead of everyone else. It's fast-paced, intense and smooth as can be - perfect for on-the-go sessions. Last year's American Sk8land tried to cram the humongous console game onto the DS, but this simplified type of action works so much better for portable gaming.
It's not all racing, so trick fans shouldn't worry. Each of the six worldwide locations throws nine tests at you, many of which require you to max out combos or get big air while posing for the cameras. Beat enough of these challenges and you're off to the next set.