Unlike previous volumes of N3, today’s game wasn’t a GameCube exclusive, seeing releases to the other major consoles of the day as well. However, it was the GameCube version of the game that I picked up in Retro Reload, so it only made sense to bring N3 out of the mothballs to cover it. I picked the game up for a mere pittance as well, which is always a bonus!
Aggressive Inline is an extreme sports game not unlike Tony Hawk or SSX, whereby you have to chain together tricks to score points. The longer and more complicated a chain gets, the more points you will acquire. It’s instinctive to play and also quite addictive, especially when there’s a particularly difficult trick that you want/need to perform but you just can’t quite get it right.
What separates Inline from previous extreme games though is that you have a pair of inline skates attached to your feet as opposed to a skateboard or a snowboard. Though basic gameplay doesn’t change that much, with grinds, manuals and big air still being prevalent, there are certain key differences to wearing skates over hanging onto a board that have an effect on the game.
For instance, being on skates means you can leap on poles and swing along them both vertically and horizontally, something that is necessary to complete certain challenges throughout each level. Not having a board also tends to mean that you don’t quite get the same level of air that you might find yourself getting in a Tony Hawk game. Having a pair of skates also means that you can move backwards as well, something that wouldn’t be possible on a board.
I found the differences to be a refreshing change of pace after years of playing Tony Hawk, and I think both styles of gameplay are good in their own different ways. On the whole though, if you’ve played a Tony Hawk game in the past, then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty adapting to your new gear.
Each skater has a “juice” bar that is visible in the top left of the screen. This works as both a way to power up your skater as well as working as a time limit for each level. Every time you perform a successful trick, manual grind, etc., the juice bar will raise slightly. The more points you acquire, the higher the bar will rise. If you manage to fill it all the way to the top, then it will start flashing and your skater will enjoy a momentary burst of speed. This can become important when performing certain tricks as you’ll need the speed boost to perform some of them successfully.
However, if you dilly dally on the stage or mess up a couple of your trick attempts, the bar will start to drop. Should you ever reach a point where the bar empties in full, then you’re promptly kicked out of the level then and there. This is a different approach to the earlier Tony Hawk games, wherein every level had its own time limit ticking away, thus giving you a set window in which to get everything done. This setup essentially means you can spend as long in a level as you want trying to complete the assorted challenges, but it also means you have to keep a constant eye on the juice bar to make sure the level doesn’t come to an abrupt end.
Each level in the game has its own challenges, and by completing enough of them, you will be able to unlock the next level and advance onward. Challenges range from simple things such as scoring a certain amount of points in a set time limit, completing grinds from ear-popping big heights, all the way up to completing intricate and difficult multi-combos so that eager photographers can get something for a highlight reel.
In most levels, you’ll be able to skate up to random people and press the action button to be assigned with specific tasks. There are also a slew of hidden challenges that you will have to work out on your own, such as in the second level where you come across a sobbing girl who needs you to get something down for her from a great height. You rescue the object for her by grinding along something high, of course, which is lucky that her specific query fit so well into your narrow skill spectrum. But the key is that the solution isn’t spelt out for you and that you need to work it out on your own.
The game includes a roster of real inline skaters of the day, but I must confess that I hadn’t heard of any of them due to not being much of an extreme sports buff. I spent most of my time playing as Eito Yasutoko, who Wikipedia tells me won a gold medal at the 2003 Gravity Games. So, I guess I chose well.
Graphically, the game looks very…2002-ish, if that makes any sense? The levels themselves look nice with some good detail, but the human characters look blocky and aren’t exactly animated with much gusto. At the end of the day though, for a game like this, gameplay is all important, and it certainly delivers on that front.
Considering how cheap you can pick up Aggressive Inline for all platforms these days, I highly recommend picking it up if you see it whilst out and about. It’s enjoyable to play, has a great soundtrack and is both familiar and different all at the same time. It’s a solid 7-8 out of 10 game that will more than provide value for money considering how little it will hurt your wallet.
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Until next time;