Ian Ferguson (San Diego)

I was super stoked to have Skate or Die: Bad N Rad up as the first title for our Gameboy club (collective? I like that) Yokoi Kids. I’ve had the game since I was a kid, I got it from my friend along with a second Gameboy and a few games for about 20 bucks and I had just happened to get my first paper route! Money! Purchasing Power!

Quick little NB here – paper routes are awful. If you are a child reading this and paper routes are even a thing anymore: just don’t. You’ll end up working for a guy named Carl and never attend or throw a good sleepover because you, a child, will be getting up at 6am to put together newspapers to deliver them to neighbors who don’t tip well. Help your soul if you live in a state with snow.

Back to Bad N Rad! It’s a sound concept that resonated with the times. Let’s go on a skateboarding adventure! We aren’t competing in just big air anymore, this isn’t a “jam”, this is a mixed platforming and downhill skateboarding game with enemies and bosses. The game is frustrating and hard. A lot of memorization is required and there’s definitely a bit of trial and error to what you can and can’t touch in some of the stages. You have a life bar, some obstacles and enemies chip away at this like dogs and overhead spikes while some are instant kills like pits and spikes in downhill mode.

The alternating gameplay between two stages is a nice concept but neither mode, side scrolling and overhead, are done particularly well. Side scrolling is the better in my opinion. By tapping or holding down the left or right buttons you can accelerate and cruise on your board, duck with a button and jump with the other. along the way you’ll ollie over a lot of pits, duck spikes, speed down hills, avoid water and fire, and defeat bad guys by jumping on them and, seemingly, cracking them in half at the hip. You aren’t coming back from that one, tiger. The bosses are clever. It’s neat. It’s also fairly memorization based and the levels feel a bit long. the ollie/jump feels a little sticky or maybe it’s that the end of the platforms seem like they end before the sprite does. All said, it feels nice to whip through this levels once you have them down but it’s a pretty straightforward experience and not a complete thought, I guess is what I would maybe say.

The overhead levels are mostly a nightmare. I’ve never really been the fan of any the downhill levels in Skate or Die games and these might be the worst. turning feels sluggish and most sections that look as though one could weave through them are best having their obstacles jumped over. That is of course until you miss and trip over one at which point it’s likely the player will take a few cheap hits trying again as the game starts the skater right up next to the obstacle for another crash. You quickly lose life in this mode on top of everything and then you start from the top.

So, overall I haven’t made it sound like a great game and that’s true. Bad n Rad also tends to go with me everywhere I take a Gameboy (which is a lot of places!). I personally must like the game because I play it pretty consistently, ever since I got it for newspaper money. I’ve never beat the game but I can make it to the second set of levels (like a few Konami Gameboy games you can pick from a set of levels and once beaten you get more or a boss stage). I can’t ever suggest the game at work but something in me always wants to tell people to give it a try. Everyone likes some games of questionable quality and this is one of mine.


Ian Ferguson, a Gameboy enthusiast,  is a talking head on The Video Game Years and co-host of The Completely Unnecessary Podcast.

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