720 Degrees ReviewJoe Shaffer
There was a time when console games couldn't compete with their coin-op counterparts in terms of video and audio capabilities. Though developers tried their damnedest to replicate the "arcade experience," the results were often underwhelming. This is because most such ports lost key features or details when making the move from cabinets to televisions. You can see precisely what I'm writing about when you take a peek at the NES iteration of the skating title 720 Degrees.
Where the original version had a fairly elaborate design for its time, its NES cousin is a stripped down, bare bones copy with awful music. This is evident when you enter the 8-bit port's skate park, which consists of a few lame jumps and a bunch of random passers-by, placed there to frustrate you. You can fool around there for a while and rack up some points, which you can use to secure event tickets needed to enter competitions, but you don't have much time to screw around in 720 Degrees. You see, there's a very stringent time limit, and failure to abide it results in bees. Not harmless honey bees that a certain science-loving Facebook page refers to as "bros," but African killer bees that tend to fly in a skull-and-crossbones formation as they approach you. One touch from those puppies and it's game over. Thankfully, you have a hefty but finite supply of continues.
Unfortunately, even that won't save you. The timer tends to run down very quickly, sometimes not even giving you a chance to skate from one event to another before unleashing the stingers. As a result, you will die a lot... in a skateboarding game... If you're intent on finishing 720 Degrees, this is probably your biggest hurdle, and it really shouldn't be. This is especially so when you realize that there is no way to expedite travel from one location to another. That's right, in a game that's all about showing off your skating skills, there's no way to boost your velocity. The situation only worsens when you happen to bump into one of the aforementioned pedestrians, as they usually stun you in an effort to further waste your time.
Typically, I'm a fan of added challenge, but the time limit in 720 Degrees is strict and unnecessary. Imagine if the developers of other sports titles had tossed in some unrelated constraints to their games. Would Tecmo Super Bowl be as awesome of a football title if its players had life spans? Would the Dave Mirra series be as effective if you had to occasionally elude pissed off bears? I'm for creativity and experimenting with unique combinations of elements, but uniqueness is not necessarily a merit. One has to consider if the originality presented in a title is actually worthwhile, and 720 Degree's usage of a time limit and murderous insects is a definite no.
Instead of worrying about how long players spend in the skate park, the developers should have focused on the actual events in which they participate. 720 Degrees boasts four competitions, each of which has a few different variations, none of which are terribly exciting. There's a ramp contest with a control scheme and a sense of timing are still mysteries to me. It took me a few attempts just to score one proper trick and kind of get the play control down. Most of the time, though, I wiped out. The game also includes a slalom that's incredibly slow and dull. You don't skate down the ramp so much as mosey to the bottom. If you miss a pair of flags, you can actually whirl around and roll through them from the opposite direction, which is the opposite of what you can do in an actual skateboarding slalom event.
You could try hitting the jump competition, but it's just as blah as the rest of the title. Mainly, that's because witnessing the jumps isn't all that awesome in an 8-bit environment. It's tough to judge exactly how high your leap is in a 2D game, which robs the event of its charm. Perhaps the dullest contest of all, though, is the appropriately named "Downhill," in which you skate down an incline. The only trick is to not wipe out when transitioning from one ramp to another, which doesn't require much skill to master. There are no other obstacles or limitations; you simply move from the start to the finish and try not to screw up.
In other words, 720 Degrees asks you to abide a tight time limit just so you can cruise from one boring mini-game to another. Even if you're a devout skater, you won't likely find anything of interest in 720 Degrees. You're better off forgetting this puppy and sticking to either Skate or Die or a more relevant skateboarding title on a current or last gen system.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.