Do you remember the era of the 90s to mid-2000s when everything related to sports was “Xtreme?” Not only was this a big part of TV programming, music, and magazines, but gaming was heavily influenced by this trend too. During this time, a lot of series popped up like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, SSX, 1080°, and Wave Race, just to name a few. These series were quite popular for some time; there’s a good chance you recognized all, if not least most of their names. But, each and every one of them has been MIA for quite some time at this point. Recently, I got the chance to take a look at the new Crayola Scoot, and boy did it get me itching for these long-lost sports titles.
While Crayola Scoot is clearly targeted at a demographic far younger than any of the aforementioned classic IPs, it does borrow a lot from these past games. The entire gameplay concept and trick mechanics are very similar to the likes of Pro Skater, especially. Thus, as I was zooming around the colorful parks of Scoot, all I think about was the many hours I spent playing games Pro Skater 3, and Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland.
It’s been so long since the classic sports IPs have been relevant, that I’ve nearly forgotten just how big each of those series was during their heydays. Just think about it, how many of your friends owned a copy of at least one of the iterations from those series? What about anything from the Tony Hawk franchise? Considering their popularity, it comes as no surprise to me that Crayola Scoot borrows so heavily from this franchise in particular.
But, as mentioned, these classic sports IPs have long been gone out of the public eye. The Tony Hawk games took quite the tumble when each release during the mid-2000s was increasingly weak, before culminating in the dumpster fire that was Pro Skater 5. EA’s SSX series also fell from grace, but it disappeared suddenly just as it seemed to be picking back up steam after the 2012 reboot for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Nintendo hasn’t touched 1080° and Wave Race since the Gamecube era. Indeed, these series feel more like distant memories these days.
Similar to that of Crayola Scoot, there have been a few attempts at revisiting this long-dormant genre through the years. Ubisoft had the Shaun White Snowboarding series running for a little while. The company then released the open-world winter sports title Steep in 2016, which it continues to support to this day. This is easily the biggest example of a return-to-form for the extreme sports genre, although its overall popularity doesn’t appear to be very high. Going from AAA to a much smaller studio, there’s the likes of Session, developed by the team over at Crea-ture Studios. It takes a page from another one of EA’s long-lost sports franchises, Skate. While not released yet, there is some noticeable excitement around it since EA doesn’t seem to have any current plans to follow-up Skate after the last release all the way back in 2010.
It’s highly-likely that Crayola Scoot won’t prove to be a huge addition to this list of sports newcomers due to its niche appeal. But, there is at least a chance it will prove to be the equivalent of Pro Skater for many younger gamers today. I could just imagine these little players about ten years from now looking back fondly over their hours with Scoot the same way so many folks today look back at the aforementioned classics.
Even so, this won’t change the fact that the winds of trend have shifted. General sports titles like FIFA, NBA 2K, and Madden are still alive and well, but these always seem to be at least partially drowned out by the likes of the grittier titles. Most games today usually end up being either shooters, open-world action-adventure RPGs, or a mixture of both. Thus, a release like Crayola Scoot especially stands out due to it being all about splashing color everywhere.
The best days of the extreme sports genre are likely far gone at this point. While there might be a chance that it really will make a comeback, as some trends tend to do, there’s no real guarantee. In the meantime, the best option for any longtime fan is to either keep revisiting the classics or cling to the rare releases of titles like Crayola Scoot, Steep, and Session. It’s a shame that the genre has fallen so far from its heyday, but playing Scoot reminded me that it’s not completely gone just yet.