Tony Hawk Pro Skater. That singular four-word sentence transports me back in time to sitting in the garage on a bean bag, with my SONY PlayStation hooked up to a 13″ Color TV, playing the game for hours on end. I perfected lines. I mastered combos, and unlocked every last hidden secret and Easter egg imaginable. I loved the Tony Hawk Pro Skater Series of games. When I learned that they were re-introducing my beloved Tony Hawk Pro Skater on the XBOX Live Arcade, I ollied for joy! Did the game live up to my high expectations, or did i end up bailing like I did once Tony Hawk Underground came out? Read on to find out!
What I Liked
Scratch that – “What I LOVED!!!” I loved the fact that the fine folks over at Sandbox Strategies stayed true to the original game. They didn’t try to re-invent the wheel. Back are all the amazing locations that I knew so well… The Mall, the Schoolyard, the Hangar, and more… The characters were all back as well. The minor RPG elements were there too… Want to upgrade a skill? Skate harder? Want a new deck? Buy a new one in the Skate Shop. A nice little “nod to the new” was the inclusion of playable avatars. It was pretty sweet watching my avatar pull off skateboarding moves I never did dare when I used to skate. That was always a hallmark of the series. It allowed skater kids (and grown-ups) to bust moves they only heard or sometimes dreamed of. It was pretty special to feel that much more connected while watching my avatar out there rippin’ and shreddin’!
The 2 minute timed levels are back as well. In order to unlock new areas, the player must complete a series of goals within the previous level, all while within the confines of a two-minute timed instance. In newer games, I tend to rail against this type of forced progression. However, with a classic throwback like this, those timers had to be in the game. To allow people to progress while “free skating” would have been a cop-out.
The HD graphics look pretty damned good, and the game suffered from very few graphics glitches. Overall, the new textures really don;t add to the game-play, but it sure made looking at the television a prettier sight. I also have to commend the development team for bringing back the original soundtrack to the game. There really is nothing like hitting a major line or gap while listening to Public Enemy. This completely tied the whole experience together for me.
What I Didn’t Like
This boils down to two very minor complaints… With the new graphics, I expected to see the characters interact with the ground a bit more. When I fell off my board, the sound was spot on, however, I would have liked to see more convincing animations. My other issue with the game isn’t so much with the game itself, but possibly my ability to play the game as well as I once did. The controls were exactly the same as I remember them, however, there seemed to be either a little bit of lag from button presses to on-screen action, or more likely, a little lag between when I wanted to press buttons, and my inability to press said buttons fast enough. I do admit that twitch style gaming isn’t my strong suit like it used to be, so I did a whole lot of bailing and bleeding.
Wrap It Up B!
All in all, if you are an old-timer like me looking for a kick-ass trip down memory lane, then do yourself a favor and pick up Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD and enjoy. If you are a kid who wants to check out how Tony Hawk Ride got started, pick it up! If you are a fan of X Games style action games, then pick it up! If you don’t really care about anything I have said in this review, then maybe, just maybe this game isn’t for you – BUT YOU SHOULD PICK IT UP ANYWAY!! You just may enjoy it!