E3 06: Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

We all knew there was going to be a new Tony Hawk game announced at E3, but how about a Wii- and DS-exclusive title that bucks everything the series has done before? Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam puts you on a one-way, downhill track and focuses solely on fast-paced, teeth-grinding speed.

You play as Hawk or one of nine other grungy-esque characters, cutting through such geography-rich regions like San Francisco, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro, usually vying for a first-placed run. The Wii remote is held sideways - you tilt it left and right to steer, juke it forward to get a quick boost of speed. The first thing we noticed was that the guy playing Downhill Jam was not bouncing off the walls and wrenching out excited faces. He was calmly making adjustments as needed. So no, you don't have to flail around to get results on Wii games.

As you zip between traffic and 90 degree turns, you can still ollie, grind and trick your way through shortcuts and speed-boosting passageways. Jam looks to keep the actioned-up parts of the Hawk series alive by limiting the exploration. To shake things up, goals will change per course - sometimes it's a slalom course, others it's all about busting moves. New boards will also change your racing goals, as some are more suited for battle than cornering or jumping. Between the different racers, boards and 90 events, that's a whole lot of rolling downhill.

Downhill Jam is being designed with the idea that anyone can get right in and start playing - basically it's a new SSX. Multiplayer was confirmed, but no details on what, if any, Wi-Fi support there would be for Nintendo's new console.

May 10, 2006