Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam Hands-On

Tony Hawk returns to the Nintendo DS with a frantic race to the finish line.

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Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam takes the Tony Hawk trick mechanics and places them into a downhill racing game, complete with fast-moving courses and plenty of shortcuts. It's a definite departure for the series, but so far, it seems like an interesting change of pace from the goal-oriented Tony Hawk you're used to seeing.

Downhill Jam takes the Tony Hawk formula in a more racing-oriented direction.

Downhill Jam on the DS has a similar look to Tony Hawk's American Sk8land, the first Tony Hawk game to appear on the handheld, though the downhill nature and high speed of the game means that the levels are structured much differently. These race courses are full of big downhill lines, and since the focus is on getting there quickly, the trick system has been softened up a bit. Instead of having to keep one continuous combo going, now a counter appears whenever you stop doing tricks. When that counter runs out, the combo ends. So you can work a little flat ground in without having to continually manual, but not so much that you'll be easily able to combo your way through the entire course.

The other change for the trick system is that most any trick can be held, even flip tricks. If you do a kickflip and keep the button held down, the board will keep spinning until you let go. Since you'll be bombing off of huge ramps and seeing a whole lot of hang time, this seems like a cool addition. Doing tricks earns you some turbo boost, which you can unleash at any time by holding down the Y button while skating.

The gameplay in Downhill Jam is definitely fast-paced. The developers at Vicarious Visions have made it a little harder to wreck, instead instituting what they call "soft bails." If you sort of mess up a trick or land at a slightly wrong angle that, in previous games, would have put you flat on your face, you'll instead pull off a wobbly landing that costs you some speed but still keeps you moving along the course.

Races take place against three other skaters, and there's more to do than just win the race. Each level will have subchallenges to complete that open up medal challenges. These give you alternate goals to achieve instead of or in addition to winning the race. Completing goals will earn you cash that you can spend on skater customization.

Customize your skater and then show off your creation in Downhill Jam's four-player online mode.

Sk8land had some pretty popular skater-customization options, and Downhill Jam looks to be blowing this aspect of the game out a little more. You can get in and design the look of your shirt, pants, and board. You can also still record a couple of custom sound effects that will play when you hit gaps, bail, and so on. This stuff comes into play online, where you'll obviously want to look better than the other guys. Up to four players can play online, and the game will contain voice chat that works during the actual game, not just in some kind of prematch lobby. The online mode will also be used to store replays. You'll be able to download another player's best runs and compete against them as ghost racers.

Our brief look at the game left us wanting to see a little more of it. Considering what a cool game American Sk8land was on the DS, it'll be interesting to see how Downhill Jam comes together. Look for Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam to hit store shelves later this year.

Discussion

37 comments
pdo4545
pdo4545

all tony hawk games for portable consoles (except PSP) are bad trust me. The idea of it seem pretty cool but the gameplay sucks! and the graphics arent to good either

siebe9
siebe9

i understand that voice chat is chatting with other people??? Mail me

siebe9
siebe9

how i can use voice chat and when i can do it??please mail me on gamespot........

Kiplor
Kiplor

oooh in-game Voice Chat, Mabey this will be better then using Picto chat and anyway, why isn't pictocaht mic orientated!?!?!

aus_pride
aus_pride

i dont have wifi yet but hopefully this game will change my mind

HighPunchRyu
HighPunchRyu

I might get this because I skipped sk8land due to holiday rush..

sinceps1
sinceps1

I absolutely hate playing tony hawk for a long period of time, but this game might actually be competitive and make the time you put into it not seem like quite a waste. I gotta say after halo 2 onling gaming seemed to make sense to me... Voip is cool, i wouldn't mind a simpler typing chat thing either for some of the other games, but more and more I hope that even for the ds there is voice chat and all the essential online features..... shhh sorry for the speech

bror_jace
bror_jace

i am so getting this game...never been a fan of TH really....mainly cuz i never learned to play it,but i know a few people good at it and they seem to enjoy it,now if your talking bout racing im sooo there dude,online features will rule and now i can race my friends and kick their rears......cmon guys,whoever that doesnt think this game might be fun is a complete idiot.

Gamepro2421
Gamepro2421

this is going to be an insane game. The Tony Hawk ska8in francise has become quite dull latley with it's stupid recycled goal-oriented gameplay. Downhill Jam is going to be a fresh new pain job one the Tony Hawk series. Plus, the real time in-game voice chat feature is going to push the game over the top and make it truely worth your time and money.

LAZZOR
LAZZOR

Hopefully this'll rock!

MSkull01
MSkull01

It looks interesting. It may hopfully suceed in becoming a great addition to the Tony Hawk franchise. I'm keeping my eye on this one.

metalchocobo222
metalchocobo222

This looks like a cool new idea. I can't wait to check it out!

Ult_gam3r
Ult_gam3r

Keep complaining and see what happens.

CTC2967
CTC2967

I like cheese!!! and this game! i love tony hawk and the games ;) and the warehouse was mine!!! Me cant wait 4 this one!

Eggshnyne
Eggshnyne

I was kinda hoping it would have classic play too, with the racing.. but I think it will still be super cool with the online play, and the voice chat!!

schalkwijk
schalkwijk

wut i really wanna do is play this on the wii ^^

crills
crills

now i can talk trash while im **** on you

Ult_gam3r
Ult_gam3r

Why are you guy complaining that this will be bad? If you don't like it then don't play it. DOn't ruin it for others.

Rated_R_Gamer
Rated_R_Gamer

This game sounds good. I hate it when we get a bunch of whinny ppl who dont like change. Dont like this game? Go play skatelanf or wait for Project 8

Homsar13
Homsar13

man, i love the ingame voice chat that's gonna be in it

TensiNothing
TensiNothing

THDJ looks like a good improvement to the line of TH games. If THP8 lets you ollie 10ft high I'll probably stick with the unrealisticness of THDJ rather than the 360 or XBOX, because the game keeps getting more and more realistic looking, but the gameplay keeps getting more and more fake. in Project 8 I want to be able to ollie a set of steps and pull off a 360 flip and not be able to pull off a 360 flip a hardflip and a double kickflip. I mean, yeah I love the TH series and all, but I'm getting tired of all this fake stuff, especially after finally getting a deck myself and skating around town.

xDragonTeax
xDragonTeax

Yea ...im gona have to agree with Stoned Fox. The series Peaked with Thug. i mean i love THAW but its basicly a combo of THUG2 and THPS4. Its not all that great the only addition they added thats new is The Old school tricks. Its a good game but not great.

Flint247x2
Flint247x2

Anyone who hates this needs to shut the hell up. This game WILL be great. You need a change anyway. I love the new features!!

StonedFox324
StonedFox324

I don't know why people are freaking out...The Tony Hawk games have been going downhill.

faridmon
faridmon

you can play online with 4 people? ok thats it, am getting this game.

Jamez-X
Jamez-X

dude week! this game will be a disgrace to tony hawk gamez!!! we came so far with American wasteland now we are drifting!!!

Lennex2
Lennex2

This is pretty cool! I can't wait for it to come out. What I WOULD like though, is for Activision to release the frist three games as a 'classic' compilation for the DS, Wii, PS2, PS3, etc.

ozzsoad
ozzsoad

I've been playing Tony Hawk since the first one came out on the PS1, it's nice to see they're mixing it up a bit and not just releasing yet another Tony Hawk game with same tired concept. They're not as exciting as they use to be. Downhill Jam actually looks interesting. Plus, like already said, you can voice chat with people while playing, as well as go against three people this time.

dfnj123
dfnj123

I would have liked a port of THP8 on the ds(and the wii) but this will hav e to do. THP8 sound so much more deep in gameplay.

Bazook
Bazook

Well I still can't get online but when I do I'm getting this along with Star Fox and Diddy Kong Racing YEAH BABY!

ShadowMarth03
ShadowMarth03

Don't get why people are so stranged with the whole Racing aspect. Seemed like a natural fit to me. Can't wait for this one.

juanfraino
juanfraino

looks neat, im almost sold with the hole voice over ip (voip), i just need to play the game and see if the costumisation is deep enough to keep me coming to it.

kanoots
kanoots

Bleh. And THPS used to be so good.

pole211
pole211

Cool. Something set apart from the old Tony Hawk tradition. And DUDE. IT HAS WI-FI WITH VOICE CHAT. That means it's automatically super-awesome.