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Retro Let's Play: Skate or Die! (Atari/EA 1987)

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by JSmithDTV, Mar 2, 2023.

  1. JSmithDTV

    JSmithDTV Member

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    Retro Let's Play: Skate or Die! (EA 1987)

    Welcome once again to the OCAU retro game of the month, Skate or Die!

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    Why?

    This game was one of my all time all time favourite C64 games and when I remembered it I thought it would be a good choice as a blast from the past.

    History;

    Of course there have been many games based on skateboarding and prior to SoD in 1987 was the infamous 720º, where the term Skate or Die was first used in a game;

    upload_2023-3-2_11-48-20.png

    I did like 720º, but Skate or Die! was better and was the game to have when it came out.

    There is some interesting history here on the phrase Skate or Die which apparently is from the 50's and related to an article on rollerskating instead of skateboarding. However the game Skate or Die really cemented the term in skating and popular culture (eventually memes too);
    Released: 1987
    Publisher: Electronic Arts
    Coder: David Bunch, Stephen H. Landrum
    Graphics: Michael Kosaka
    Musician: Rob Hubbard/Kyle Granger

    The C64 version of Skate or Die! had awesome music that took full advantage of all of the SID chip's capabilities;



    Note for people interested in audio: The unique guitar samples in the title screen illustrate that the newer 8580 SID chips (without modifications/SID hack) are not capable of playing certain tunes, especially those including digis designed for the 6581 series. Of course Electronic Arts created the game for the American market, so NTSC. The Skate-or-Die! music runs slower on PAL systems.

    Skate or Die! was released for the Commodore 64, Atari ST, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Apple IIgs, Amstrad CPC, and IBM Compatibles running MS-DOS. It was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) by Konami, and published by Ultra Games. In 2007, the NES version was re-released for Nintendo's Virtual Console service in Europe (excluding France) and Australia. The Atari ST conversion was contracted to CodeMasters, who contracted Kinetic Designs to do the work.

    In 1990 the sequel Ski or Die was released which was not as successful at all as Skate or Die!.

    In 2009 the game "Skate 2" for the PlayStation 3 and the XBOX360 was released, which contained a "Skate or Die!" T-Shirt (the Skate or Die! logo on black background).

    Gameplay;



    In Skate or Die, players compete in up to five events either solo or against computer opponents (with different strengths). Before the starting the game, settings need to be selected in the skate shop. All players can enter their names and then choose the colour of their board (except black). Then you skate out of the shop and choose if you want to play all disciplines or single disciplines (or practice).

    1. Freestyle

    Here you have skate the ramp and pull tricks. Timing and precise controls are crucial, otherwise you break your neck. The aim is to score as many points as possible in 10 attempts. Judges determine how much style and skill you have shown.

    2. High Jump

    Also on the ramp, but trying to get as high as possible.

    upload_2023-3-2_13-48-54.png

    3. Race

    Mastering the downhill race stage in a good time without too many crashes is the main mission. Jumping over or skating through sewage pipes, ramps or over obstacles is awarded bonus points.

    upload_2023-3-2_13-50-3.png

    4. Jam

    Not only speed counts in this race through backyards and side streets, but fighting off your opponents whilst dodging or jumping hazards. You can use attacking moves to either remove hazards or knock your opponent over. Even with an slower time you can win with a higher score.

    upload_2023-3-2_13-49-10.png

    5. Pool Joust

    In this stage one has a paddle and needs to knock the other play off their board.

    upload_2023-3-2_13-49-36.png

    Tips;

    High Jump - You can improve the result by moving the joystick in circles instead of jolting left and right.

    Race - If you are happy with about 10.000 points, you should prefer the left side of the screen. Jump at the skull, then through the tunnel (duck until you are out), then jump in the shop terrace, drive through up to the ramp, jump. If necessary jump over the block/stone, do not take the last bend, but jump over the green corner.

    Jam - The difference of points between the first and the second skater on the finish line is often very small. Therefore you should set no great store by speed. What counts is to re-design your environment as often as possible by kicks and fist punches (kick away garbage bins, skate over green garbage, cause a short circuit in fuse boxes and of course make the opponent fall. For this you always have to be in viewing direction to the opponent. If you look to the left, but the opponent is to your right, then you'd better do a jump (Regular Foot "up and fire") fast, as afterwards you always land with the viewing direction turned by 180° . A hit already counts 200 points, if your opponent falls, you get even 500 points. You can also reach that by placing your own board in front of him (out of his kicking reach) and quasi "leave him stranded". Absolutely avoid: fences, open manhole covers, air shafts and similar obstacles.

    Joust - Attack: If you yourself hold the paddle at the beginning of the duel, it is essential to start at the right moment to place yourself directly behind the opponent and make him fall just at the first tour through the pool (s. image further at the top). If you have mulled four attacks, it is very risky to do the fifth. When the paddle changes the owner at the wrong point of time, the previously pursued player will probably hit it around your ears right away no matter whether your enemy is human or computer controlled.

    Defence - When playing the skater without the paddle, you should choose your starting position tactically. Against weak opponents it is recommendable to change the course as often as possible, so that you stay out of reach of the paddle. Strong opponents could look through that strategy, however.

    Cheats - None known, but all disciplines can be trained. There are various Easter Eggs, e.g. in the shape of a "hidden" path in the race. In Jam there is the possibility to drive a kind of "shortcut" after a mesh wire fence at the left border of the screen.

    Version comparisons;

    upload_2023-3-2_13-29-53.png

    [​IMG]

    Loading/title screens and at Rodney's (semper fi or die!!! :) ). Top row, left to right: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, NES.
    Bottom row, left to right: DOS CGA, DOS EGA/Tandy, Apple //GS.

    Source (quite a good and long write-up of the various releases) - http://frgcb.blogspot.com/2015/06/skate-or-die-electronic-arts-1987.html

    Covers etc.;

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    How to;

    So dust off ya ol' C64, if you have the OG, or download an emulator. I like this one personally;

    http://www.ccs64.com/


    Get skatin' and enjoy! :cool:



    JSmith
     
  2. jimbogimp

    jimbogimp Member

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    funny comment
    Nice choice! Love skate or die!
    Hoping I'll hey some time on it this month.
     
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  3. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Oh M Effing G!!!

    Amazing game!!!! Last game me and my brother went halfs in buying when it came out.. Esp after the real intro to this was of course Epyx's California Games, the Skate board ramp.. (both games released in 1987, not sure which one came first, but Cali games came first to our household)

    california-game028-00.gif

    Such a huge influence at our place.. We surft/snowboarded and skated in our childhood, and my one year older brother left computer's behind for surfing, though these 2 games brought him and his waxhead mates back to gaming at our joint over parties and such..

    Awesome games these 2. The surfing in Cali games needs a mention too.

    Skate or Die for me was insane and amazing, no idea how many hours I clocked up on that puppy, but it was a lot. The free practice is where we spent most of our time. Absolute magic game this and thanks for the fun run down memory lane.. Grabbing this Right bloody now!!! :D
     
  4. OP
    OP
    JSmithDTV

    JSmithDTV Member

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    Oh for sure, California Games was the bomb as was the prior Summer Games (1984) & Winter games (1985)... loved the surfing stage! :cool:

    Also in 1987 was the movie Police Academy 4, which had Tony Hawke as well as Steve Caballero, Chris Miller, Tommy Guerrero, Lance Mountain and Mike McGill. It all just tied together... a great skating game, a movie, must buy a skateboard asap etc.

    [​IMG]



    JSmith
     
  5. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Bought one last month, Powell Peralta Andy Anderson Heron
    deck, Indepependant trucks and a bunch of knee pads for old koddgers.. *and* bought my kid a board/pads also.. Its in your blood, though taking it slightly easier these days than before 40.. lol great movie too.... "Tackelberry!!!!!!" lololol
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2023
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  6. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    Oh, I'd forgotten that tie-in.
    Classic :thumbup:
     
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  7. Trizae

    Trizae Member

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    Hell yes I used to LOVE this game!
     
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  8. OP
    OP
    JSmithDTV

    JSmithDTV Member

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    Yeah, a great character... Mahoney, Hightower (yuma yuma yaaaaama, RIP Bubba Smith) etc., awesome stuff. :leet:

    I doubt we would have ever had THPS in the form we know without 720 and Skate or Die!



    JSmith
     
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  9. NismoR31

    NismoR31 Member

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    Just finished building one yesterday. Caballero Dragon Wing Flight 216 deck, Indy titanium trucks, Powell Peralta dragon formula wheels, Bones super reds bearings. How good is having money now that you're old lol

    Got my kid a board for christmas & quickly got the itch for my own. Got a cheaper one & decided I'm keen to keep going so bought a dream setup. Definitely all padded up & well aware I don't bend or bounce like I did 30 years ago :lol:

    PXL_20230302_071316396.jpg PXL_20230302_071335185.jpg PXL_20230302_071347104.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2023
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  10. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    Nice game. I never realised that was Tony Hawk showing up in Police Academy. Probably because I never heard of Tony Hawk until the Playstation games. Only 5 or 10 years apart, but that meant half-a-lifetime back then.

    It would be good to play the DOS version with EGA graphics, and Tandy sound. That's the best you'd get out of the DOS version. Unfortunately it's one of those (many) titles of the time where the configuration options/combinations made available are fickle and limited. The only way to get Tandy sound out of the official game, is to choose the Tandy graphics option, which is of little use on non-Tandy hardware.

    Somebody in the distant past created SKATECT.EXE (ftp), a patched version of SKATE.EXE, which forces the game to use Tandy sound output when you choose CGA graphics. The downside being, CGA graphics. I did a quick hex compare of the two EXE files - it's only a handful of changed bytes. No idea if a similar, tiny magnitude of changes could also force Tandy sound when EGA mode was chosen. (or perhaps there's a reason why the original patcher didn't do it)
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2023
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  11. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Ot: same bearings, I went with bones 56mm rough riders.

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    Back on topic, which is the best version of this game? I'd say like JsmithDTV, the C64 version probably plays the nicest. Though I have to say, never have I played it on the st/Amiga.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2023
  12. elvis

    elvis OCAU's most famous and arrogant know-it-all

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    I never put 2 and 2 together and realised that this was EA's first self developed and published video game. Today I learned.
     
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  13. NismoR31

    NismoR31 Member

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  14. elvis

    elvis OCAU's most famous and arrogant know-it-all

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    Yeah I was digging through their games list, and it's a tough one to quantify. That game seems to be attributed in some places to Eric Hammond as the individual developer, and in others to EA as the developer. EA definitely published it, but I can't see definitive information as to where the line in the sand was for the sole developer of the game (if they were an employee, a contractor, or someone independent who published through EA).

    This article...
    https://www.polygon.com/a/how-ea-lost-its-soul/chapter-8

    ... says ...
    "1987 was the year of big hits like Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer and Earl Weaver Baseball. It was also the year of a skateboarding title called Skate or Die!, the first game developed internally by EA."

    ... but also ...
    "Through 1983, he [Trip Hawkins] worked with a programmer named Eric Hammond to design a basketball action game. "

    So it sounds like maybe Hammond wasn't a full EA employee, and that "Skate or Die" then falls back to being their first "internal" game?

    I know this is all kind of splitting hairs a bit. But historically speaking, it would be nice to know where the line in the sand is.
     
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  15. DrMonkeybutt

    DrMonkeybutt Member

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    From memory, I think this was one of the first C64 games that overcame the three channel audio limit to emulate a a fourth 'voice' on the title track. Mega Apocalypse may have also used four voices (also written by Rob Hubbard in the same year).

    http://www.zzap64.co.uk/cgi-bin/displaypage.pl?issue=033&page=160&magazine=zzap
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2023
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  16. Flamin Joe

    Flamin Joe Member

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    I think you are spot on in that assessment. In the very early EA days there was no internal development team as Electronic Arts was very much focused on providing developers (or "artists" hence the name) an avenue to have their games published. Hawkins for the most part was very much the director of the company and didn't have much actual hands on development and it was left to whoever they contracted externally to develop the game.

    In saying that, One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird is an interesting one because it was developed by Hammond who I don't believe was ever an EA employee, but unlike other titles released in that era in the Album cover style keeping in line with the "artist" marketing, he wasn't featured heavily like the other developers with now cringeworthy album photo shoots. He does however get his name alongside Erving and Bird who also had some input into it's development.

    Purely speculation since we are not privy to the contractual arrangement, but I would say the fact it involved two of the top NBA players at the time (which in itself I believe was a first for games to involve big sporting names), it probably made more sense from a marketing point of view to it being solely considered an Electronic Arts game. It was also Hawkins idea and he was apparently a big fan of Erving so most likely saw this project as his baby.

    So in short, I believe it's safe to say Skate or Die is EA's first ever game purely because it was solely created within the walls of EA and didn't have (as far as I'm aware) any major input from an external developer.
     
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  17. breech

    breech Member

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    Skate or die stoked my skating addiction along with Calgames, 720 and skaterock on the C64. Punk Rodney Dangerfield as the skate shop clerk, classic :D
    I've been thinking about building up a Vision psycho stick or boneyard using the repros that are coming through. I had a blank clone back in the day.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Going even further off topic, I found a Konami sequel that sounds similar to e1m1 music that predates Doom :D skip to 13:00

     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2023
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  18. clonex

    clonex Member

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    Many hours spent on this and Ski or Die
     
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  19. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    IMG_20230304_065940.jpg

    My kids Mike Valley. Pretty nice for pre assembled board.
     
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  20. ruki

    ruki Member

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    Just to add to the historical aspect of Skate or Die!

    The Burnout devs (Criterion) where lined up to build a new (not sequel) Skate or Die! game in ~2002 which they pitched to EA, they wanted to do a "this is what being a skater is like" game and EA pushed for it has to be "GTA on a Skateboard". Criterion told EA they were walking away from the project and the reset is lost to history.

    A small amount of info can be found in the Games TM Issue 100 (pg 148) which was release with 100 different covers to celebrate the issue and therefore the price is daft for them unless you get lucky. There is subsequently also no scans online of the issue.

    if i ever get around to migrating SVGT to mediawiki (as has been the plan for a number of years) then all this kind of info would be in one easily accessible spot

    https://timeline.mameau.com/

    https://web.archive.org/web/2017070...criterions-cancelled-remake-led-to-burnout-3/
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2023
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