Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

Tuesday 31 October 2006
This Wii-specific Tony Hawk's arcade racer is less Pro Skater, more punk squabbler - a Wii-mote-steered party crasher targeted at instant appeal instead of its big brother's skate satisfaction. We had the chance to pick it up and play to see how pick-up-and-play it was, and found out that it's still not quite as easy as rolling off a hill.

Even with the controls sensibly bunched around the Wii-mote's D-pad and 1 and 2 buttons, you'll need to put in some tutorial time to train your hands - and we still felt a little disconnected from how the handlebar control related to our skater. It's a little difficult to tell how much tilt you're applying other than with the sharpest yanks (which visibly unbalances them), so too often we would oversteer right around, throwing the game out of its terrific constant speed.

Above: A stab at the D-pad will launch an unsporting shove or kick to knock fellow skaters - or pedestrians - off their feet for bonus points

We also found pulling off a huge trick score is just a matter of rubbing your thumb across the D-pad as fast as you can - perfect for the party-game atmosphere but it doesn't seem like there'll be much scope for skilled play. And the narrower levels have squeezed out some of that Tony Hawk's trademark of being able to improvise your own path and scoring lines.