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720°

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720° is a 1986 arcade game by Atari Games. 720°, a skateboarding game, is notable in that it is the first extreme sports video game, and has a unique timed structure that requires the player score points in order to keep the game going. The game's name comes from the "ultimate" trick, turning a full 720° (two complete circles) in the air after jumping off a ramp. 720° has the player controlling a skateboarder ripping around a middle-class neighbourhood. By doing jumps and tricks, the player can eventually acquire enough points to compete at a skate park.

Story

From official materials:

"It's just you, your trusty skateboard, and a hundred bucks as you skate, jump, slide, spin and more through four levels of difficulty, picking up loose cash, earning money through events, and finally, earn a ticket to one of the big skate parks! If you're lucky, you'll get to buy some rad equipment to make you the coolest skateboarder alive."

Overview

The game begins with the player controlling a skate-rat skating around a middle-class neighbourhood using common objects as ramps for jumps.

The player begins with a number of "tickets," each of which granting admission to one of four skate parks, or "events," in Skate City, the "hub" between the parks. When a park is entered, one ticket is expended. The player gains additional tickets from earning points. Whenever the player isn't in an event, a bar counts down the time remaining until the arrival of deadly, skateboarder-hungry killer bees. Once the bees arrive the player still has a small amount of time with which to get to a park, but the longer the player delays this the faster the bees become, until they are unavoidable. Getting caught by the bees ends the game, though on default settings the player may elect to continue his game by inserting more money. Reaching a park with a ticket gives the player the chance to earn points, medals and money with which to upgrade his equipment, and resets the timer.

The player is constantly racing to perform stunts, both in the events and in the park itself, in order to earn the points needed to acquire tickets. Thus, the player’s score is directly tied to the amount of time he has to play the game. In order to win, the player must complete a total of sixteen events through four hubs, a difficult task.

Structure

The game consists of four levels each consisting of four events:

  • Ramp: the player climbs around a half-pipe structure, trying to gain more and more height and performing tricks in the air. This tends to be the highest-scoring event.
  • Downhill: a long course consisting of slopes and banks must be navigated to reach a finish line. The quicker the player reaches the finish, the more points are earned.
  • Slalom: this is an obstacle course in which the player is required to pass between pairs of blue flags scattered across the course. Each gate passed grants a little extra time, and scoring depends on time remaining at the end.
  • Jump: the player jumps from a series of ramps, attempting to hit a bull’s-eye target off the screen. There are cryptic marks on the ramp before the jump that provide clues as to the location of the target, but they are difficult to use effectively. This tends to be the most difficult event.

Scattered through the levels are several 'map' icons placed on the ground which when activated give you a map with the roads, parks and your location marked on it. Also scattered about the level are hazards and obstacles, the avoidance of which will earn points.

The player earns points and money for high scores in each event, and doing well at the events earns you the cash needed to buy equipment that at shops that improve player performance, and a chance at a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Completing all four events in all four classes completes the game.

Arcade version

The cabinet for this game is unique. The speakers for the game are mounted atop the cabinet in a structure resembling a boom box, in line with the game's skate-rat theme. The display is larger than that for a typical arcade game and very high resolution (similar to that used for Paperboy). The main control is also unique. This joystick moves in a circular fashion, instead of in compass directions like standard joysticks. The game also contains two buttons, one for "kicking" (which refers not to actual "kicking", but refers to pushing the skate board with a foot for speed) and the other for jumping. The game supported up to two players, alternating play.

Legacy

The game's catchphrase inspired another popular skating video game, Electronic Arts' Skate or Die!, in 1987, which in turned spawned another sequel called Ski or Die.

Ports

The game was ported to the Commodore 64 (twice) in 1987, the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum in 1988, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1989, and the Game Boy Color in 1999.

An emulated version of the game is included in Midway Arcade Treasures, released for PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox in 2003 and 2004.

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