The game 720 degrees is a solid adaptation of the Atari arcade game that brought the joys of skateboarding to the computer-game universe. As with the coin-op, the C-64 version of 720 degrees was designed as the ultimate theme park for joystick jammers. In addition to the sprawling Main Park, with its obstacles, ramps, sidewalk and blacktop, the layout includes four specialized event areas and a quartet of shops selling everything from helmets to knee-pads.
The player starts out with $100, to be used to buy equipment and a skateboard. Points are accumulated by performing spins and jumps in the Main Park, while avoiding cars, motorcycles, Frisbees and the world famous "Skate or Die" bees, who turn up when the player is almost out of time. Points are used to gain access to the four different event areas located at various points throughout the park: Downhill, Slalom, Jump and Ramp. After completing all four events, the player advances to the next skill level.
This little piece of skateboard heaven also contains four shops, each selling a specific piece of equipment: skateboards, helmets, shoes or pads. The player can make only one purchase from each shop on any given level. A new skateboard permits higher jumps, and the shoes improve speed, while helmets and pads protect the jammer from being wiped out in a crash.
Jumps and spins are the basic medium for obtaining points. On spins, the more the player-character spins, the more points the player earns. A single spin is a 180 degrees worth 100 points; a double spin is a 360 degrees worth 200 points; a triple is a 540 degrees good for 300 points; and the ultimate, a 720 degrees, is a quadruple spin valued at 500 points.
With the exception of the Ramp event, which is seen in a modified side perspective, 720 degrees uses an angled overhead viewpoint in all events and in the Main Park. The graphics are sound, if unspectacular, and the player-character animations are excellent. The Main Park is the most visually impressive part of the game, with its realistic layout, giant ramps and amusing obstacles. The three downhill events, on the other hand, don't have much to distinguish them.
The three downhill events are the Downhill, the Slalom and the Jump. The Downhill is a race against time, down a series of connected ramps built on stilts over water. The ramp sections are slightly separated, so the skater must jump from one to another. In the Slalom, the player-character also skateboards downhill, this time passing through a series of gates positioned along a solid ramp-way. The Jump event also sends the skateboarder down a ramp, but this one has both bonus markers (land on them for extra points) and water hazards, which must be vaulted with perfectly timed leaps. Obviously, these events are much too similar. They produce a visual redundancy that keeps 720 degrees from being memorable.
The Ramp event is the standard semicircular "concrete tidal wave", familiar to all fans of skateboarding. The skater starts out by riding down along the curve, building momentum, then shooting up the other side, into the air. While in the air, practiced jammers can execute spins, handstands, slides and skating handstands for points.
Beyond the uninspired downhill events, the biggest problem faced by 720 degrees is the fact that it must compete with Kosaka, Landrum & Bunch's classic C-64 version of Skate or Die (Electronic Arts). Although the 1986 copyright notice tells us that Atari's skateboarding coin-op predates and probably inspired Skate or Die, the brute fact is that Skate or Die does virtually everything better than 720 degrees.
Thus, 720 degrees is a modestly successful program and diehard skateboarders will probably want to check it out. But the sport was recreated better in the earlier program.