Back in May, we reviewed the iPhone version of Skate It [$4.99/Lite] from EA, a port of the existing Wii/DS game that was itself a spinoff of the Xbox 360 and PS3 Skate series. There was a lot to like about Skate It on the iPhone. It had better graphics than its DS counterpart, a robust career to play through, many different areas to skate, a heaping bag full of tricks to perform, and a nice level of customization that included a limited park creator. Despite this impressive list of features, two glaring issues held the title back from greatness. The biggest problem was the difficult tilt-only control scheme that took far too long to get the hang of, if you could at all. In addition to the control problems, Skate It had some performance issues, especially in regards to the touch recognition when drawing tricks onscreen using EA's Flick-It system. Surprisingly, EA released a new update today that looks to address both of these problems, and actually succeeds to a certain degree.
The biggest change in this new update is the inclusion of an option for a virtual control stick for moving your onscreen skater. Before, you tilted left and right to turn on the ground and spin in the air, and tilted forwards to crouch and gain speed or backwards to skid to a stop. Thankfully, all these movements can now be controlled with a virtual analog stick, with no tilting required at all. I forced myself to get used to the original tilt controls just because I love the Skate series so much, and in the end I found that they actually weren't that bad with enough practice. But this new control stick option is just so much more approachable, and means I don't have to be sitting in a certain position to play the game as I had to before.
Another nice control change in this update is the ability to perform different grabs by just tapping and holding certain areas of the screen. Before you had to first get airborne using one of the Flick-It gestures and then quickly perform a second gesture while in midair to do a grab. It was a little too complicated and imprecise, and I never could pull off the correct grab moves that I had intended to. Now you just need to get airborne and tap on a sector of the screen to pull off a grab from a selection of seven of the most basic ones. You still have the ability to perform the more elaborate grabs using the original methods, but these new options give you a quick and easy way to do a surefire grab when you need to.
Finally, this update is said to include various bug fixes and enhanced stability. For the most part I can't really tell much of a difference, as the game runs really well on my iPhone 4 and admirably on my iPod touch 2G. Owners of first generation hardware may see a marked improvement if they were experiencing problems with the game before. The trick recognition of the Flick-It system is still spotty, although not in a detrimental way. The big news in this update is definitely the nifty new controls, and if this was a source of frustration with you when the game was first released, it's definitely recommended that you check out this new update to Skate It as you'll likely find the game much more enjoyable now.