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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Game Boy
GENRE: Extreme Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
August 27, 2002
Aggressive Inline

Aggressive Inline

Aggressive Inline

 Written by Matt Swider  on September 30, 2002

Review: Kyle: ?Hey Matt, what are you playing?? ? Matt: ?Aggressive Inline for GBA? ? Kyle: ?Oh? What's that like?? ? Matt: ?Dave Mirra BMX 2 for GBA? ? Kyle: ?Oh? What's that like?? ? Matt: ?Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 for GBA? ? Anyone else recog

It can't be denied that Aggressive Inline made an impact on the already revolutionary genre of extreme sports in being the first inline skating game to hit the home consoles. Acclaim debuted the title on PlayStation 2 and later brought it to the Xbox and GameCube, which all retain that same over-the-top feel that builds upon forerunners such as Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra. However, the connection between the console editions of Aggressive Inline and the Game Boy Advance version of the game is less apparent. Instead of attempting to recreate a low-end adaptation, the portable developer Full Fat opted to recycle their engine used in connection with the handheld release of Dave Mirra BMX 2 last year. While there's no doubt it's a great base to work with, a number of setbacks take a toll on the already taxed engine and the result leaves us with a less than aggressive translation.

Once again, Full Fat takes us into an isometric perspective with inclusive environments that would suit the taste of any skater. Keeping up with the crowd of extreme sports games, Aggressive Inline features ramps, rails, light posts, building structures, and even cars that can be used to perform tricks. Most of this is reminiscent of Dave Mirra 2, and while there are a few slight improvements, it remains obvious that not much has advanced since last year.

The downside to replacing the bike or skateboard with a pair of skates comes the way of a visual distraction. Sure it wasn't effortless to land tricks in Dave Mirra, but at least you had some indication of where the bike needed to be positioned. Aggressive Inline on the other hand requires much more practice to land tricks and even then, imprecise outcomes still occur. Since the small sprites that make up the inline skates aren't as visible as a bike was, it's tough to judge which direction is needed to adjust the skater in order to straighten out for the landing. This usually causes problems when attempting to jump off a ramp or onto a rail, but causes the most frustration when it spoils a trick combo.

Unlike Dave Mirra BMX 2, Full Fat implanted an original grind meter rather than basing it on specials. Once players perform a couple of other air tricks first, the power bar will become filled. Then and only then, they will be allowed to perform any sort of grind maneuver. Though this is a unique and somewhat novel approach, it comes off as somewhat unbalanced in advocating an excess amount of grinding. Plus, grinding not only increases the life of the meter but also boosts the score with insane proportions, which in my opinion is a whole other unbalanced issue.

Wearing the skates of one of nine pros, Aggressive Inline starts players out against some street punk who thinks he has mad skills in comparison. While this may be true initially, taking one or two turns around each of the twelve parks will send him crying back to mama. As anyone could guess, the challenges of each level are presented in a checklist beforehand along with the performance required to move on to the next park. Among the tasks are things like igniting rings, collecting letters or coins, weaving between orange cones, and reaching the top score.

While achieving a single goal and top score isn't too difficult amongst the first couple levels, later parks will require the entire checklist be complete before moving on. Adding further challenge is the fact that there are only so many times you can retry. Each course gives you three chances and once you give those up, one of your trio of continues will vanish. Since the completed tasks reset after each continue is used, this adds to the difficulty level, though not in the same frustrating manner as the control quirks.

One a rather surprising note, Full Fat was able to port the Aggressive Inline soundtrack chuck full of recognizable tunes from Hoobastank and Black Sheep, among others. Although these aren't complete versions, skating to the songs is pretty clear and that's extremely commendable on Full Fat's part. The only negative element I could find is that each song is assigned to a single park, thus leaving you with the same music until you're able to complete the challenges. Nonetheless, this is an impressive start and a trend I hope can continue with progress.

Besides the explained challenge aspect and self-descriptive freestyle mode, the final segment of Aggressive Inline comes as a multiplayer event. In it, two players are pitted in a single park and compete for points with tricks and combo challenges. Even though the sought after multiplayer support is greatly appreciated, the little substance that is found is rather thin in reality. Additionally, the fact you can't knock each other astray takes away a bit of the fun. All the same though, it's better than skating around solo.

Bottom Line
Taking the structure from last year and replacing the bike with matching skates is the basic feel Aggressive Inline will give Dave Mirra owners. However this is exactly the same we experienced a couple years back when extreme sports first premiered on the consoles. The Game Boy Advance lineup started with Tony Hawk, then Dave Mirra BMX 2, and finally to Aggressive Inline, each building on top of each other with new sets of features. Even if its a handful of gameplay quirks still tap the brakes on this portable game, it shouldn't come close to a grinding halt if you have a little bit of patience. Plus, the very impressive audio elements that contain tunes that shouldn't be missed. Since we've seen this isometric skating many times before though, I was hoping for something different or a little more flair this time around. However, sticking to what has worked in the past is only common sense and can still be a lot of fun.

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