Tony Hawk Ride Impressions: Tony's Way

Forgive me if I get some skateboarding terminology wrong in this post. I'll do my best to relate what happened when I turned my board sideways and hit the Vert ramp in Tony Hawk: Ride last week.

I'm the kind of person who has to double-check what "Vert ramp" means before I type it, to be certain I'm not getting it wrong. I was right. It's the big U-shaped ramp I sometimes see on ESPN2.

Tony Hawk: Ride, this fall's skateboarding game that comes with a wheel-less board controller, has a Vert ramp. I'd previously tried one of the game's gently-sloping downhill courses. For that demo, the board was pointed at the TV. I rocked back and forth to turn, leaned back, jolting the tip of it in the air to jump/ollie. I executed various tilts, leans and grabs at the board's sensors to do tricks.

Tony Hawk Ride Impressions: Tony's Way

Last week in Seattle, however, Activision personnel turned the board sideways so that when I stood on it my body was facing the TV. I questioned the need for a different control scheme for the Vert ramp mode I was about to try. The board doesn't have to be turned, I was told. "That's just what Tony recommended."

OK, Tony Hawk. Sideways it is.

My rider stood on the right, top edge of the Vert ramp. I tipped the nose of my board up, my foot raising it a few inches off the floor. I then put that nose down as the rider started down the vertical ramp. My rider was in what seemed like perpetual motion, going down, across the brief flat bottom of the U and up the other side... back down again, over and up the other side.

When we got air, I could reach down to the sensors on the edge of the board, cover them with my hands and perform a grab trick. I learned that just putting my feet over the sensors or my hands about 10 inches over sufficed.

To spin when I got ai,r I had to tilt forward on my toes or lean back on my heels as I was leaving the ramp. To do a kick flip or shove-it I did those leans once I'd cleared the ramp.

To do tricks on the lip of the ramp, I tilted the nose or tail of the board up at the right time. To do a hand plant, I had to cover one of the sensors right when I was at that ramp edge.

For someone like myself who doesn't ride skateboards, it was a lot to take in. But I think I'd get used to it quickly. By the end of my few minutes in that mode I had my rider making big spins that were amplified with fiery special effects. I didn't quite feel awesome still tentatively rocking the board, but my guy sure looked great on the screen.

So... sideways? Sure. I'll stand that way if that's what Tony recommends. It's not a different control scheme from going downhill, it seems — just a different way of looking at things.