|Arcade system||Sega Model 2|
In Top Skater, players stand on a skateboard-like platform which swung side-to-side or tilted, manipulating the actions of the avatars in the game. The game has ramps, rails and other skating objects from which the player can do tricks to gain points. The player has a limited amount of time in which to perform tricks, but can extend this time by collecting time bonus rings or by performing certain tricks.
The game's style is like that of the later Sega game Crazy Taxi, noticeably the character art design and music type. Top Skater was also directed by Kenji Kanno. A sequel called Air Trix was released in 2001.
The AM3 team wanted to make Top Skater a game which would allow players to explore unrealistically large skateboarding courses and perform the fantasy tricks associated with skateboarding's image, rather than a realistic simulation. Because of this, recreating some of the tricks for motion capture would require an unusually large studio with equipment to propel the motion capture actor through the air, so all the animation was done by hand. The primary target audience for the game was young Americans.
None of the development team members skateboarded; instead, they watched professional skateboarders both live and on video for research. An AM3 member explained the game's trick-based approach: "It wouldn't make any sense to make a skateboard racing game. You don't need to skateboard as fast as you can. I just wanted to make the game cool and fashionable. If the game were a racing game you wouldn't want to do any tricks as you'd be absorbed in trying to race as fast as possible."
The team collaborated with Sega AM4 in designing the skateboard interface and cabinet. They installed an MPEG board for the sound, since using MPEG boards had recently become more financially feasible.
The developers selected Pennywise because they felt punk rock was both the most appropriate genre for the skateboarding theme and the best choice to excite players, and some members of the team were fans of the group.