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Tech Deck Skateboarding

Score: 20%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Handheld Games
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Sports/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

A good franchise or license game is always really good. Who doesn't like playing games with their favorite movie star, hero or vehicle? But then, there's The Dark Side. Games that only a marketing manager could love... Games that serve as bright, loud reminders that some guy in a suit decided your Game Boy Color was just another place to advertise his product. Games that...well, you get the picture. End of rant. In the Good News department, Activision's new skateboarding title Tech Deck benefits from all the company's success with Tony Hawk 1 & 2, both in look and feel. Sure, the game is based on a line of finger-sized skateboards, so instead of Tony et al, we get Finger Guy. X-Concepts is the company behind the pint sized skateboards, and you may even remember the Tony Hawk signature model that came out with the launch of Tony Hawk 2. The point of the game is collecting these Tech Deck boards, based on successfully completing a level, and the boards are all wildly decorated. Once you score new ones, you can go back and browse your collection but the problem is, you don't get to ride any of them... Luckily, the skate parks look good, and are full of lots of fun stuff to grind, jump and ride on, so maybe you won't mind.


Tech Deck is a skateboarding game pure and simple. Well, actually more simple than anything else. There's a serious issue of 'Where's the game?' here that prompted my first rant on licensed games. Here is Tech Deck in a nutshell: You choose a difficulty level, which determines how many Tech Deck skateboards you'll have to find in each skate park. And, you go through each park collecting boards. Oh, there's also a Free Play Mode that doesn't involve gathering boards, but just lets you run through the park and do tricks. What I found strange about the main mode is how it doesn't involve much in the way of tricks. Sure you need to pull off some tricks to get enough points to collect boards, but unlike T.Hawk or one of the other similar games that has skating and tricks as the main object of the game, collecting boards in each level is all you really do in Tech Deck. I can understand this as a side objective or goal, but boring is the word for what you'll feel after a few levels of this game. There are higher difficulty levels that increase the number of boards hidden in each level. On the lower difficulty, you not only get a preview of where the boards are hidden, but a little arrow shows you where the next board is located. As the difficulty is notched up, the arrow goes away and you have to rely on memory for the location of each board. All this while the timer is ticking down. Not all the 50 skateboards can be collected without playing the X-Treme difficulty, which seems like a way to artificially extend the size of Tech Deck without actually adding more game. So, the appeal I see is for people already into collecting these tiny skateboards in real-life wanting to do it on a GBC. Except, isn't the fun of collecting these little boards being able to play with them? Besides viewing the collected boards, Tech Deck doesn't even let you outfit Finger Guy with an earned board! So, you earn the boards, and they just end up like trophies, which doesn't seem quite right. I'd make a Pokemon comparison, but even there you get to play with and take care of the Pokemon you catch...


Skating on the higher difficulty levels is a challenge, based on the short time you have to remember where each board was located and go grab it. Sometimes it is hard to tell where a board is, so you end up jumping like mad when the board is right on the ground. In these moments, you end up doing tricks without even trying, so there's no claim to Tech Deck being a game with complex, hard-to-learn tricks. It's really just so repetitive without ample reward that you'll find yourself wanting to fail just so you can put the GBC down.

Game Mechanics:

Controlling Finger Guy in Tech Deck is very simple. I like that you can change the D-Pad controls to either 'board relative' (moves according to which way the board is facing) or 'screen relative' (pushing in a direction takes you there, no matter which way you were pointed before). Much like Tony Hawk 2, boards keep on rolling unless you hit a pipe. Pushing out of the pipe is almost too easy, but once you get inside, the D-Pad only controls tricks, along with the (A) and (B) button. On the ground, (A) will Ollie and send you over obstacles to get the boards or launch a big trick. (B) will grind, and both buttons have roughly the same meaning in the pipe. Along with the D-Pad, you press (A) to pull kicks, rotations and various Helicopter derivatives. Using (B) in the air will do nothing, but using (A) to Ollie and then combining D-pad directions with the (B) button will pull different grind moves. All this combines with pushing the D-pad to flip front and back while in the air. I'm boring you because there isn't anything else. The tricks are fun in Free Play, but when you start going after boards, tricks just don't matter much. And that's too bad, since Activision has more than proven themselves capable of creating a fun skateboarding game. Somewhere in the process of Activision licensing Tony Hawk, X-Concepts licensing Activision and Activision licensing X-Concepts, I see that nobody bothered to spend time making this game great. In fact, I can't see that anyone took the time to make sure this game ended up average. My advice to the kids or parents who might be considering this game is to take all the money you'd spend on it and invest in more actual mini-skateboard toys. And if you already bought all the little mini-skateboards in the store, I can think of at least 2 skateboarding titles for GBC that would be more fun to play. Surprisingly or not, Activision did both of them.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

GameBoy Color/Pocket SpongeBob SquarePants: Legend of the Lost Spatula GameBoy Color/Pocket Toy Story Racer

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated