#122 720°

Posted: 5th October 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

275th played so far

IMG_4207Genre: Sports
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1986
Developer: Atari Games
Publisher: Atari Games

Right, let’s get this straight. Yeah, the game is officially called 720°. We believe 720 or 720 Degrees are also acceptable. We’ll call it that. Laziness!

We recently got a copy of Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play, a collection of different arcade games, with many that we need to play. Joust was part of this, and 720 Degrees another. Billed in the book as the first skateboarding game, this sounds like a nice way to see what legacy Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 built on. Somehow I get the feeling it’s not much.

Our Thoughts

Yeah, I know it’s unfair to compare two games released that far apart and, possibly aside from some very basic controls, the two games aren’t very similar when playing. The main thing, though, is that the general goals stays the same – score points by doing tricks. Here’s it’s mostly just jumps and spins, no big complicated names that we don’t understand, but they lead to the same basic result.

The game’s simplicity is an advantage though. With Tony Hawk, we complained about how complicated the controls were. Here, though, the controls are simple enough that the tricks are straightforward to execute. It’s a good thing to, as you need those points. An issue with the two-button controls is that they can feel a little bit unresponsive. There are times where you will fall off of your board for making too sharp a turn (something hard to compensate for with the graphics not giving many visual clues) and the jump mechanic can vary quite widely. Being a coin-op this would have led to more quarters in the machine. For us (where we can just press restart) it did not give much reason to return to the game apart from pride and/or stubbornness).

Your mission is to reach a skate park before the time is up. To get in, you need to earn enough points using your tricks. You need to finish different skate park levels to get to the next, more difficult level, while the skate park levels also pay for further upgrades to your equipment – higher jumps and such.

The skate park levels are surprisingly varied, with four different focuses (jumps, slalom, speed and tricks), with increasingly difficult courses. They’re difficult to get good enough on, but with some practice they’re good tests of your skill.

The real difficulty comes from in between. As said, you need to get to a park in time, but also score enough points to get a ticket to unlock that park. This is easy for the first two or three, but as you advance, the balance of speed, doing tricks and getting upgrades becomes more difficult and you’ll soon run out of time. That’s where it heats up. The game talks to you, ‘Skate or Die’ and some weird ghost-cloud starts following you, killing you when you touch it. You can avoid it by getting to a park quick enough, but combining that with having to get enough points, which you won’t necessarily have after a while, makes it a scary race.

The sound bite that goes with it is a nice touch, by the way. It’s not the first digitized speed (aside from Deus Ex Machina, future game Gauntlet got there earlier), but it still surprised me to suddenly hear it. It’s a nice touch and back in the days must have scared anyone playing this for the first time.

Final Thoughts

Look, neither of us will probably become big fans of the skateboarding genre. Despite the variation it can bring a lot of it feels showboating and (unlike snowboarding) the games are more about the self mastering combos rather than competing against others. It feels remarkably isolated compared to other sports games. Maybe when we play Skate 2 we will change our minds… but for now not so much.