Have you ever wondered what might result if, say, a Tony Hawk game was to merge with Splatoon? Probably not. But just in case you have, then Crayola Scoot from Climax Studios and Outright Games is definitely what that game would be.
It’s a little rough around the edges and not without the odd frustration, but Crayola Scoot is somehow charming enough to be worthwhile – especially at a time when there are very few decent skating games available. Combining Tony Hawk-style point-scoring trick combos with colour-based rivalry, it’ll have you flinging yourself around various skate parks, grinding, backflipping, and spraying your colour of choice all over the place. Playing as a young and colourful scooter-riding trickster, the overall aim of the game is to rise to the top of the Scoot Legends leaderboard. Seven computer-controlled rivals await you, and each time you gain a new experience level, you’ll have the chance to go head-to-head to knock them down the leaderboard.
Gaining experience means playing through a variety of levels in the three different worlds available. There are ‘Trick Run’ events, where you simply have to earn a higher score than your rivals by performing tricks and stunts. Then there’s ‘Crazy Crayon’, which will see you race your rivals point-to-point to pick up the most crayons; ‘Splatter Tag’, where one person has to tag as many others as possible with their colour; and ‘Colour Frenzy’, which is perhaps the main – and most entertaining – mode of the game. As you do tricks in the game, you’ll spray the surrounding area with your colour. In Colour Frenzy, you need to spray as much of the skate park as you can. Up against five rivals who can spray over your colour with theirs, it’s a fast-paced battle that requires an element of strategy to truly succeed.
If the Crayola branding didn’t give it away, Crayola Scoot is very clearly aimed at children, but there’s enough here to make it worthwhile for adults and the young-at-heart, too. In fact, the game’s sharp difficulty spike is probably enough alone to stop younger players getting the most out of the game. Each level has three difficulty settings – easy, medium, and hard, each representing one, two or three stars. You’ll get one star for winning a level on easy, two for winning on medium, and three for winning on hard. If you’re a completionist, don’t be expecting to get all the stars unless you have a lot of patience. Thankfully, the amount of stars you earn doesn’t seem to gate anything off, as level unlocks are tied to your experience gain instead. And, rather generously, you’ll gain experience for every performance, whether you win or lose.
On easy, Crayola Scoot is a cakewalk. Unless you really mess up, there’s not much challenge involved. In the score attack mode for instance, your next closest rival might score 4,000 points across the whole level while you’ll get more than that in one half-decent combo. But jump into medium difficulty, and it’s a different story altogether. The AI is fierce and doesn’t mess around. There seems to be no happy compromise; the game is either frustratingly tough, or far too easy.
While you can choose to play every level on ‘easy’ if you don’t want a challenge, to progress through the game you need to take on each of the Scoot Legend rivals. These head-to-head competitions involve taking it in turns to set a high score by doing the best combo you can pull off. If your opponent fails to beat your score, they’ll be awarded a letter from the word ‘SCOOT’. The player to spell the full word out first loses. The first couple of rivals are very easy, but after three or four, beating them poses a real challenge. It’s exacerbated by annoying environmental design – I frequently found myself hitting areas of the skate park that I shouldn’t be in, thus losing my combo chain.
The controls also take a little getting used to – the button mapping isn’t the most intuitive, with the right stick being used to jump and the left trigger being used to grind. It feels slightly cumbersome, and if you’ve played a lot of Tony Hawk games – where face buttons are used to jump and grind – it may be a hurdle that’s more difficult to overcome. It’s difficult to be precise in controlling your character, and that means going too high over a ramp or jumping off a grind too soon may put you ‘out of bounds’ and cost you your combo, or worse, a win.
So Crayola Scoot isn’t perfect. It has a few little niggles and could do with a bit of polish especially in its control scheme. But it’s fun. The bold, simple art style is extremely effective, and seeing a skate park completely covered in various colours after an aggressive round of Colour Frenzy is brilliant. The different game modes on offer – which can also be played in split-screen with up to three other players – offer enough variety to stop things getting stale too quickly, as does the ability to purchase new costumes and upgrade your scooter. Crayola Scoot might not quite fill the void for a good Tony Hawk successor, but it’ll at least provide a bit of entertainment in the meantime.