Skate or Die!

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Skate or Die!
Titelbild vom Spiel
Game No. 187
Voting 7.98 points, 41 votes
Developer Michael Kosaka, Stephen Landrum, David Bunch
Company Electronic Arts
Publisher Electronic Arts
Musician Rob Hubbard (Title),
David Warhol aka "Dave" (Ingame)
HVSC-File Hubbard_Rob/Skate_or_Die_intro.sid
or GAMES/S-Z/Skate_or_Die.sid
Release 1987
Platform C64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC
Genre Sport, Multi Event
Gamemode Single player
up to 8 players (in turns)
2 players (simultaneous)
Operation Icon Port2 1.pngJoystick Keyboard
Media Diskette Datassette
Language Language:english
Information Follower Ski or Die (1990)

Description[edit | edit source]

Skating was very hip in the 80s for the youth. So the company Electronic Arts was full in line with the trend at the end of 1987 when releasing Skate or Die!. The game offers the possibility to compete in up to five disciplines either alone against three computer opponents (with different strengths) or against up to seven more human players. Before the start of the game, the game settings need to be selected in the skate shop. All players can enter their names via the "Sign-Up" function with the keyboard and then choose the colour of their board, except for black all colours of the C64 are available. With "Cancel" you end the sign-up. Then you skate out of the shop and choose if you want to play all disciplines or single disciplines (or practice if "Go Practice" is selected).

In the Skateshop you can set the number of players per sign-up and enter the names (1), choose the board colour (2) or view the highscores (3). When you have made your choice, you either select "Go Compete" or "Go Practice" to leave the shop and choose the discipline with the skater by skating through the corresponding street.
1st discipline: Freestyle Here you have to do tricks after skating up the ramp and before going down again - you can do anything from the simple turn to figures such as "Ollie Air", "Handrail" etc. Timing and precise controls are crucial, otherwise you break your neck just as spectacularly as in real life as shown in the picture and can collect your bones afterwards.
2nd discipline: High Jump Here you need to pick up as much speed - which leads to increasing height - as possible by shaking the joystick. The player skates back and forth five times maximum. If you think that you have reached a good height, you should signal that you are satisfied by pushing the fire button. If you miss this moment you will come a cropper (see image). If you don't ever push the button, the last try counts.

3rd discipline: Race Mastering the downhill race parcours in a good time without too many crashes is the main mission. But jumping over or skating through sewage pipes, jumps from ramps or over obstacles will be awarded not only with respectful comments but also with a significant amount of bonus points. If you fall on your nose, the laugh will be on your side.
4th discipline: Jam Not only speed counts in this race through backyards and side streets. By different kicks and punches you can also maltreat the opponent or the surrounding. If one player is far ahead, the one trailing is quasi beamed to the front in return for a time penalty. But even with an inferior time you can win by a higher score.
5th discipline: Pool Joust In this rather violent discipline one of the competitors is always equipped with a kind of paddle for five turns through the pool, trying to know the opponent from his skateboard. If the hunted player avoids the paddle skillfully five times, he will receive the paddle. To "paddle someone", the player that carries the paddle has to press the fire button at the right moment. Both the hunter and hunted player can delay the re-entering of the pool at the rim by moving the joystick in the direction of the pool edge.

Design[edit | edit source]

The audiovisual design at that time left only little to be desired and used the possibilities of the C64 very well. The title screen and music by Rob Hubbard caused some jaw-dropping right at the beginning. And unlike many other games with fancy title music and graphics, the quality of graphics and sound stay at a very high quality throughout the game, from the skate shop to the single disciplines. Unfortunately, all this high quality performance of every single discipline each of which has own animations and an own ingame music in two voices (one voice stayed reserved for the FX) resulted in extremely long loading and various disk flippings. So you have to suffer a little to enjoy all the many details such as detailedly animated and all in all very freaky sprites, soft scrolling at the downhill disciplines or also many saucy words.

Note for people interested in sound: The unique, sappy guitar samples in the title screen illustrate that the newer 8580 SID chips (without modifications/SID hack) are not capable of playing certain tunes - especially those including digis - designed for the 6581 series. Moreover, Electronic Arts - being a US company - created the game for the American market, which means for NTSC-Standard. Since an NTSC C64 is slightly faster clocked than a PAL system established in Europe, the Skate-or-Die! music runs noticably slower on PAL systems. PAL users interested in the difference might want to listen to the HVSC-SID file linked in the upper right with a SID player, to hear the music at NTSC speed.

Hints[edit | edit source]

Controls[edit | edit source]

In the Downhill disciplines (Jam and Race) every player is asked if he prefers "Regular" or "Goofy Foot" as controls. The difference is best explained like this: When choosing Regular Foot you control from the view as you look on the screen, so left is "left", "down" speeds up, "up" is to brake. When choosing Goofy Foot on the other hand, you control from the Skater's perspective. Left and right are swapped, speeding up is now "up", braking is "down". But beware: With pressed fire button, the controls are identical in both modes, e.g. at the race you duck with both the "Regular" and the "Goofy" with "down+fire" (for tunnels and high barrier) and you jump with "up+fire" (required for most of the obstacles).

Note for emulators[edit | edit source]

Emulator players be aware that program parts are permanently reloaded, so for example when using VICE, switch "True Drive Emulation" ON and "Virtual Device Traps" OFF, unless you play the Avatar version.

Versions[edit | edit source]

Some versions are either flawed or not easily transferable to let them run on a real C64. There is no solid singlesided and/or fastloaded version. A small list of versions with their features follows.

  • Sorex/WOW+ROLE
    • pro single-sided on 1541
    • pro fast-loaded
    • contra game sometimes freezes in the multiplayer mode in blue "Next Skater" screen
  • ESI
    • pro highscore saved
    • pro stable
    • neutral slow
    • neutral 2 disk sides
    • contra There are various ESI versions all of which seem a little complicated to transfer. If you use a real C64, try formatting the disk with Disk ID "EA" before transfering the image. The ESI/Hotline Version seems most recommendable of the ESI versions, Language German here (, posting #9) you find one with a virgin highscore list.

  • Avatar (EasyFlash)
    • pro no(!) loading times at all
    • pro contains short manual (docs)
    • pro stable
    • contra no highscore saver
    • contra EasyFlash required

Solution[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]

  • You get some tips (next to the usual sayings) from the owner of the Skate Shop, if you let the joystick rotate there a bit.
  • A detailled and at the same time clear manual for the game in German by H.T.W with hints for the controls are on Language German (see below -->Links).

Freestyle[edit | edit source]

  • In the darker areas of the halfpipe (quasi in the bends) you can pick up speed by pressing the fire button.
  • The simple Kickturn/turn without a jump results in more points, the longer you wait with the execution after you have stopped to board on the edge.
  • When doing "Handrail" you get more points if you stay in the handstand as long as possible.
  • If you do an Ollie Air/turn in the air, the board has to stand in an angle that runs parallel to the ramp when reentering, so you do not fall. The more turns you can make, the more points you get.
  • On the left side of the ramp you cannot do any figures in the gray area in the middle. Every try will end in a fall.

High Jump[edit | edit source]

You can improve the result by moving the joystick in circles instead of jolting left and right.

Race[edit | edit source]

If you are happy with about 10.000 points, you should prefer the left side of the screen. Jump at the skull, then through the tunnel (duck until you are out), then jump in the shop terrace, drive through up to the ramp, jump. If necessary jump over the block/stone, do not take the last bend, but jump over the green corner.

Jam[edit | edit source]

The difference of points between the first and the second skater on the finish line is often very small. Therefore you should set no great store by speed. What counts is to re-design your environment as often as possible by kicks and fist punches (kick away garbage bins, skate over green garbage, cause a short circuit in fuse boxes (?) and of course make the opponent fall. For this you always have to be in viewing direction to the opponent. If you look to the left, but the opponent is to your right, then you'd better do a jump (Regular Foot "up and fire") fast, as aftwards you always land with the viewing direction turned by 180° . A hit already counts 200 points, if your opponent falls, you get even 500 points. You can also reach that by placing your own board in front of him (out of his kicking reach) and quasi "leave him stranded". Absolutely avoid: fences, open manhole covers, air shafts and similar obstacles.

Joust[edit | edit source]

  • Attack: If you yourself hold the paddle at the beginning of the duel, it is essential to start at the right moment to place yourself directly behind the opponent and make him fall just at the first tour through the pool (s. image further at the top). If you have mulled four attacks, it is very risky to do the fifth. When the paddle changes the owner at the wrong point of time, the previously pursued player will probably hit it around your ears right away no matter whether your enemy is human or computer controlled.
  • Defence: When playing the skater without the paddle, you should choose your starting position tactically. Against weak opponents it is recommendable to change the course as often as possible, so that you stay out of reach of the paddle. Strong opponents could look through that strategy, however.

Cheats[edit | edit source]

None known, but all disciplines can be trained.

Caution, spoiler! There are various Easter Eggs, e.g. in the shape of a "hidden" path in the race. In Jam there is the possibility to drive a kind of "shortcut" after a mesh wire fence at the left border of the screen.

Voting[edit | edit source]

Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):
7.98 points at 41 votes (rank 106).
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
64er 9 Issue 7/89
C64Games 10 9th January 2010 - "Highlight" - 12.246 downs
Lemon64 8.4 9th January 2010 - 99 votes 8,18 9th January 2010 - 22 votes
ASM 8/12 Issue 1/88
Powerplay 70% Issue 2/88
ZZap64 92% Issue 87/12

Reviews[edit | edit source]

TheRyk: "Although there are multi event sports games with more disciplines and the loading times were rather long, many gamers name Skate or Die! among their favourites of this genre, so do I. The single disciplines have all been worked out with much love for detail. The music is mostly good, some tunes are even better. I do not like all disciplines to the same extent and most players might need some practice to get used to the controls. But even today I like playing it with friends, and be it only Pool Joust all night long. 8 to 9 points (of 10) are deserved in my opinion."

mombasajoe: "Solid, technically flawless skater game. There is probably not much more to get out of this topic. A game that you like taking out of the shelf every now and then 8/10."

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

In 1990 the sequel Ski or Die was released which was, however, by no means as successful as Skate or Die!.

In 2009 the game "Skate 2" for the PlayStation 3 and the XBOX360 was released, which contained a "Skate or Die!" T-Shirt (the Skate or Die! logo on black background).

Cover[edit | edit source]


Cassette[edit | edit source]


Highscore[edit | edit source]

Overall ranking[edit | edit source]

  1. Werner - 2X First, 1X Second, 1X Third (11.11.2008)
  2. TheRyk - 1X First, 1X Second, 2X Third (11.11.2008)
  3. Mindless - 1X First, 1X Second, 1X Third (?.?.198?)
  4. H.T.W - 1X Second (11.11.2008)

Single disciplines[edit | edit source]


Discipline Rank 1 Score Rank 2 Score Rank 3 Score
Freestyle Mindless 20.154 Werner 18.468 TheRyk 13.008
High Jump TheRyk 14' 9" H.T.W 14' 8" Werner 14' 2"
Downhill Jam Werner 19.718 TheRyk 13.082 Mindless 9.590
Downhill Race Werner 19.821 Mindless 17.637 TheRyk 11.137


High Jump

Downhill Jam

Downhill Race

Pool Joust
Unfortunately, there is no highscore possible in this discipline.

Links[edit | edit source]