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Reviews (0-9 / A-M)

720 Degrees

MANUFACTURER: ATARI
1
986 (1-2 Players)


 

Overview and game play

720 Degrees is a challenging skateboarding game with impressive graphics and sound for the date of its release in 1986. The game was successful as it was released when skateboarding was very popular and it was converted to several home formats. Upon depositing a coin, (or coins for a two player game), a difficulty level screen is shown. Press a button and your skateboarder will kick himself towards the experienced level or the training level. Once a level has been selected, the game begins with the player on his skateboard in Skate City, a fictional place where the only shops available sell skateboarding supplies, (boards, helmets, pads and shoes), and where the geographic features are ideal for practicing skateboarding tricks and manoeuvres. The objective of the game is to participate in different skating events at the skate parks in Skate City to attain the highest score possible. The four main events at the four skate parks are: jump, slalom, downhill and ramp. In each event, the player must complete the course within a set time or achieve a set number of points to earn a park ticket that allows access to the next park. As the game progresses in difficulty, players need to purchase skating supplies from the shops to increase their abilities. 720 Degrees allows players the freedom to choose the order of the events to participate by skating around Skate City to any of the park entrances. Extra points can be earned by performing tricks within Skate City such as jumping over ramps or sliding along edges of objects. However, if a player stays outside a park for too long a voice shouts “Skate or Die!” and a message appears for the player to proceed to a park. A swarm of killer bees then appears to chase the player and if they catch you, the game is over.

 

 

The structure of 720 Degrees is well designed and enables the player to learn tricks and earn points outside the skate parks as well as within them. Medals are awarded to players who complete certain courses in fast times and extra points are also given for time remaining. A particularly useful feature is the advice box that displays instructions to players about how they can improve their performance. Maps of Skate City can also be viewed by skating over the map icons to find the quickest way through the streets. With practice and some patience one can even perform one of the most difficult skateboarding moves: a 720 Degrees spin in the air, which is how the game got its name.

 

Graphics

720 Degrees features impressive cartoon style graphics for 1986, displayed from an isometric viewpoint. Atari’s designers used a higher resolution display than the average display in the mid 1980’s to allow for more details in the game. Citizens of Skate City drive around in their cars, on unicycles or on motorcycles and all are detailed and clear. There are even body builders who stand around posing! Some of the graphical details contribute to the game play by making it more credible and fun. For example, if the player crashes into anyone or anything, he will be momentarily stunned and will lie on the floor for a few seconds to recover. Some humour is added when the killer bees start chasing the player as they sometimes form objects like an arrow or a hammer to bash the player as bees in many cartoons often do. The bees’ idea is a particularly effective way to stop the player from spending too much time outside the parks and is a good element of the game design.

 

 

Sound

The music in 720 Degrees is a particularly strong feature of the game. Four large sound speakers are placed in the center of Skate City to blast out tunes while the player skates around. The tunes themselves are all up-beat rock melodies and different songs play during each of the stages. One games magazine in the 1980’s released an audiotape of tunes from some games that included those of 720 Degrees. Sound effects in 720 Degrees are adequate to represent the on screen action and the “Skate or Die” sample does much to encourage players to make haste to the nearest park. It may be a coincidence that “Skate or Die” is the name of another skateboarding game released for the C64 home computer about the same time that 720 Degrees was in the arcades, possibly to cash in on the skateboarding fad of the 80’s.

 




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