Insert Disk collects Skitchin for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Skitchin for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic was the unlikely stop-gap between Road Rash 2 and Road Rash 3. With a huge portion of attitude Skitchin aimed to deliver a radical slice of the 90’s. Skitch your way to victory against the other rollerbladers. Just don’t get caught by the cops.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. I thought I’d take us back to the 90’s today and a bit of a somewhat unique game (or at least it was at the time). With elements of racing, pulling off stunts, fighting, skating and hitching, it can only be… Skitchin. Now back in the 90’s things were a little different to now. Heath and safety hadn’t been invented yet and if you wanted to sell games, they had to have attitude. That edgy feel that makes the 90’s youth culture so hilarious to look back on.
Skithin fits the bill here perfectly, the clothes, the language, that characters… the attitude. With a combination on skatin and hitchin, Skitchin delivers an experience all of its own. It’s fast, furious and unapologetically just does what it does. The game sees itself as an offshoot of the Road Rash series, also published by Electronic Arts.
September 1991 had seen the Sega 8 and 16-bit crowd won over by the original Road Rash. December 1992’s Road Rash 2 was then perhaps one of the best receive direct sequels on the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive.
Yes, tearing up the highway and beating your fellow rashers really hit the spot.
But where to go from here, Road Rash 2 was essentially a perfect upgrade to the original. A third Road Rash title at this time would surely seem like introducing an unnecessary sequel. This was the genius of Skitchin. EA were able to repurpose much of the Road Rash series assents and mechanisms and reinvent the concept. This time on roller blades. Skithin snuck in to a March 1994 release to break up the Road Rash entries on the Sega platforms of the day. Making the return to Road Rash 3’s new aesthetic in March 1995 more palatable.
As anyone to describe Skitchin and the will 9 times out of 10 simply reply, it’s Road Rash on skates. In many respects this is certainly true. However, the new format of the game led to some rather interesting tweaks in game play.
Yes, the weapons are here, the chaos of the chase, the police, the obnoxious competitors but look deeper and there much more on offer here.
Weapons can now be collected from the street rather than being stolen from the competitors. An orange cone will denote when a pick up is coming. Simply swoop down and enjoy the bounty. Then cave someone’s head in with it.
Between rounds there is also the opportunity to take part in bonus rounds of speed or skill to add to your bank balance. And you’ll be needing that cash too. The general wear on tear on your gear can get quite costly. So, bonus cash for placement, stunts and beatings will all help you thrive in the game. Take your cash to this dude behind some sort of bootleg Beanie Baby factory somewhere and replace and upgrade gear as you see fit. The way this guy is dressed is so 90’s it hurts.
It’s almost as if this cartridge contains a time warp to the 90’s itself. You almost expect Vanilla Ice to break out and lay down some beats. In terms of game play the concept never really wavers. Its all about hitching rides and beating down the coolest dudes on the road. The soundtrack is literally made for the Mega Drive. It’s loud and in your face to reinforce the edgy credentials of the game.
Early on you’ll find that you can win almost every race by simply finding a fast car and waiting to the end of the track. Later on though the need to fight off multiple enemies and change to a faster vehicle become much more pressing. Falling down late in to a race can have devastating results. In terms of the physical release I’d say that EA did a nice job here with presentation. The cover looks like it could have dropped straight out of an MTV commercial or amateur skating VHS. It sets the tone for the game well and I have no complaints.
For my money I would also say that the PAL edition is a more effective design that the North American design and obviously has a lot of Canadian influence due to the development team. It just seems to communicate the street vibe a little clearer. God bless Canada.
Of course, with this being the 90’s, this grungy title was only every going to end up on one 16-bit console. Sega’s Mega Drive and Genesis were a perfect match for the attitude. I just can’t see Nintendo entertaining such unsavoury content. Even Sega had to issue warnings on the front of boxes and then at the start of the game. I always felt this to be rather amusing at the time as the overtones of the game are overwhelmingly North American in content. Here in the rather quieter part of the UK the idea of gangs handing out on rollerblades just didn’t seem to strike any sense of reality. Having said that Frank Spencer had made this activity at least somewhat cool here in the UK a good decade earlier.
That 90’s North American grungy feel dripped from the game content itself. With competitors such as Fester, Thrasher and Caustic this was clearly not a native European game. Also, is Carcass Ozzy Osbourne? And isn’t Tank, Edward Norton. And Jackyll, he reminds me of someone but I just can’t place him. Nice hair though. Yes, this was a very alien game style to some of us but it really didn’t matter as the content was so good. It was simple yet very playable. Until you try and use a nitro and end up ploughing in to everything and anything.
If you like what you see here then you will be able to pick up a copy of the game relatively easily online. Prices fluctuate quite a bit at the moment but are unlikely to end up breaking the back any time soon. What more can I say? Skitchin is a fun concept that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The rotoscoped graphics hold up relatively well today as does the Road Rash game engine.
If you have a hankering for the extreme 90’s then this may just be the game for you. Until next time, happy gaming.