Scratch on the touch screen to pull off some sick tricks on your skateboard.
Skate It on the Nintendo DS is the handheld version of EA's Skate. In the original console version (which was not released on the Wii), players could use the second analog controller stick to "flick" tricks, as if they were controlling the feet or board of the skater. The DS version takes this design and applies it to the touch screen of the handheld version.
Tricks are performed exclusively through the touch screen, but not by touching buttons. Instead, players need to draw a line in a certain way on the skateboard to perform a trick that naturally follows the motion of that line. For instance, a simple ollie is done by drawing a straight line from the back of the board to the front of the board. A heelflip is done by drawing a line away from the board, perpendicular to where your back foot would be in it. Spins are possible by drawing in a circular motion while in the air. It sounds complicated, but once you sit down and play it, the motions needed to perform moves make sense once you understand how things match up.
Performing basic movement around the demo skate park was fairly easy, and I was able to do jumps and basic spins without needing to look down at the touch screen to see where I was drawing. Pulling off certain grabs and flips required a bit more effort, as I needed to be a little more precise in where I was on the touch screen. Larger combination moves like spinning flip tricks and multiple grabs required a more complex “double draw” motion with the stylus, essentially doing two tricks back-to-back in one go. I only managed to pull off such a trick once, since the time you have to draw a trick pattern is limited to how much time you spend in the air. There's not much time to do the bigger tricks, so you'd better make sure you make your time count.
To that effect, the draw-to-trick system in Skate It DS feels a lot more realistic, as it were, than just pressing buttons and grinding away all day as in the Tony Hawk games. Since a lot of skateboarding game fans have been used to that system of play for so long, making the transition to all touch screen controls will be difficult. Then again, if you're tired of the same old way to play, the controls of Skate It are certainly a change of pace, and based on what I played at E3, they appear functional enough to work through normal gameplay. It's going to take a lot of practice to nail the sickest tricks, though.