Burnout 3 sits comfortably among our favourite racing games of all time, so to learn that it might never have happened if it weren’t for a cancelled Skate Or Die remake was something of a shock for us. We met the team that worked on the project and heard all about the hardships and hurdles that led to its cancellation. When the team finally decided it was time to walk away, there was a very real danger that Criterion would irreparably damage its chances of ever working with EA again.
“Criterion started talking to EA in 2002 and they asked if we’d be interested in doing a remake of the old C64 and NES game, Skate Or Die,” reveals Criterion’s Alex Ward. “These guys wanted to make a skateboarding game, so we did it. This is the first game Criterion made with EA, and these guys were on what was then the Airblade team.” And having come off the back of an extreme sports game with a twist, the team were in a good position to develop and release a more grounded alternative to the million-point tricks of the Tony Hawk series.
“In Tony Hawk you were always on the board and it was all about tricks and high scores, but I wanted to explore what it was like to just go out for a skate and have that feeling of just doing whatever you want. There was that experience from when I went skating in real life that just wasn’t captured in videogames. I wanted to be able to get off the board – this was way back in 2002,” explains Criterion’s Craig Sullivan, the ideas of Skate Or Die foreshadowing EA’s Skate franchise some years earlier. But the project was apparently subject to all kinds of pushing and pulling at the behest of the publisher, as Ward explains. “We were told ‘you can’t just make a Tony Hawk game – it’s got to be like GTA,’ and that was the first time we were like, ‘Really?’ ‘It’s got to be open world.’ Well, what does that mean? Nobody really knew.”
The full scoop on the cancelled Skate Or Die project – as well as a lot more interesting behind-the-scenes info on the making of Burnout 3 – can be found in games™ issue 100, on sale from 2 September. For more information follow this link, or click here to see all 100 covers.
To avoid disappointment, you can also order a copy through Imagine Publishing’s e-Shop.