You know if there’s one thing skateboarding games have never got 100% completely right, it’s transition skating. Skate got close, with some minor issues that meant it never quite felt satisfying, and SkaterXL got further still, although it suffered from the same issues as Skate around rocks and disasters, and it’s more sim-like controls often got in the way of just bombing round a bowl with ease. Enter “The Ramp“: a self-described skateboarding toy from Hyperparadise all about transition skating.
The word “Toy” is probably a more accurate description for what this thing is, and actually changes my perception of other skateboarding games like SkaterXL. Where The Ramp differs massively from other skateboarding “simulations” is that the whole game has this very cute isometric view, which makes everything feel like you are playing on a diorama of a skatepark with a tech deck. When you see the game and it’s unique visual style, the term “toy” really makes a lot of sense.
In many ways the isometric view reminds me of the old Game Boy Advance ports of the THPS games. All of those games used an isometric view, and at first it seemed odd and a little off-putting: skateboarding is inherently about overcoming and navigating the space around you, and being in tune with it. How can you do that from miles up in the air with a ¾ perspective? For anyone who played them, though, it quickly became obvious that any concerns about perspective were unfounded.
“The Ramp” utilises this same philosophy, and with the game so heavily focused on transition skating (there are no ledges, handrails or even flatbars in the game’s 3 levels), the spectacle of seeing your tiny skater boost airs as you survey the whole skatepark is quite ingenious.
With ledge skating, distance to obstacles and the intimacy of camera angles is important, as without that the technical aspects of that discipline are impossible. With transition skating, flow and awareness of the next quarter you are going to hit is what’s important. This is something “The Ramp” recognises, and where more realism focused skateboarding games of the past perhaps fell down.
Navigating level in the game is all about pumping and momentum, with the A button being used to crouch: hold A down, you crouch, release A, you stand up. Do this at the right time on a transition and you gain speed, do it at the wrong time or don’t do it at all, you slow down. There’s no ollie button, and currently no flip tricks, as the game is really all about vert – you boost into the air, and grab your board.
You can grind, although disappointingly the only trick you can do is a Disaster/Lipslide. Even with just this one trick, you can really get the feeling of hitting the lips on bowls and doing grind after grind after grind. It’s all very satisfying despite being a tad shallow in the trick department.
There are 4 levels in the game, with a standard Vert Ramp, a backyard pool, a rather confusing skatepark bowl and a mega ramp to skate on. I would have liked to see a small mini ramp as well, but the vert ramp basically scratches that itch so it’s a minor complaint. The skatepark bowl has a weird orange column plonked right in one of the corners which completely ruins any lines around it, but it creates an interesting challenge in navigating the bowl.
My favourite level was the backyard pool. It’s a standard L shape with a ladder on the coping to avoid, and it’s on this level that The Ramp really shines. Literally just pumping around this bowl and not even doing tricks is really fun, and it’s here that the game really shows just how much the developers understand transition skating on a very basic level. Swinging around the round corner on the pool to then boost a massive air on the straight is incredibly satisfying, and got me really hyped to get out and skate a bowl in real life.
My main complaints about the game are that it has no progression, the bare minimum in character customisation, and 4 levels – but given that the game is so clearly described as a “toy”, with humble ambitions and, most importantly, a very low price (you can pick this thing up for about the same price as a pint), I can’t judge it too harshly for this. If you have a few quid to spare and love transition skating as much as I do, you should definitely check out “The Ramp”.