The Ramp simplified skating game makes me want to see more minimalist sports games
I’m not a fan of pain, so I don’t skate. Sometimes I wish I had – or forced myself into it when I was of skating age, which almost overlapped his major boom period in the ’80s, when he entered for the first time in cultural awareness. I had a skateboard, because every kid had a skateboard, but it was a little hand from the ’70s, a little plastic oval on four crisp wheels that barely rolled yet. No, I didn’t skate: I was a kid on a scooter. I kicked this scooter through the streets of suburban Sarasota, from one end of Biltmore Drive to the other, to the Kwik stop on the Tamiami Trail. I was a fucking nerd.
People I know who skate talk about it in a way that doesn’t really match how skateboarding is portrayed in the media. Despite its speed, despite its danger, despite its integral connection to punk, hardcore and other aggressive forms of underground music, skateboarders often speak of skateboarding in the Zen way of surfers. It’s calming. It’s calming. There is a serenity that comes over you when you truly connect with your board and its movement and the enduring physical properties of the surface you skate on, on, or through. The risk of personal harm is extreme, but right now skating isn’t a bomb at the X Games or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater scoring hunt. It’s about existing in an elevated state, briefly, until you drop on your ass and then start over.
The ramp, a new skating game from Hyperparadise, is the rare skateboarding game that even tries to capture that elusive effect. No disrespect to Tony Hawk, who beautifully turns skating into a manic arcade sprint, or the Skate series, which captures the physique of skating well, but The ramp gives me an idea of what my friends talk about when they talk about skating. The ramp is peaceful, at least when my skater isn’t crashing on her head.
The ramp has no missions. It ignores points. You don’t collect things. You have just skated. You increase speed by holding down or letting go of the A button to increase speed at specific spots on the halfpipe or empty pool, fishing for enough airtime to pull off a cool trick. And then you do it over and over again – or maybe you just slide back and forth, enjoying the breeze on your face. The ramp don’t ask you to do anything other than skate, for as long as you want, with the level of effort you want. The stakes are about as low as you’ll ever find in a game, and that’s part of why The ramp is so refreshing. You can just enjoy it.
I would love to see more minimalist sports games like this. Obviously surfing or snowboarding would be a great fit for this type of game, but someone gives me a lo-fi, arty batting cage simulation where I just try to tear up guidelines over and over again, or a game purely on the shooting on the seek. As a purely personal endeavor, skating obviously makes more sense in this context than a team sport, but each sport can be reduced to its most basic individual essence. Throwing a kick, kicking, hitting your target at chest height at 50 yards: I would pay five dollars for any game that would let me repeat these simple actions over and over again, with no goal or worry anymore. important. The ramp understands the power and the quiet of keeping it simple, tapping into something deeper in both skating and sports in general than what we usually see with video games.
Editor-in-chief Garrett Martin writes about video games, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and whatever gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.