As a child, I wanted to learn how to skateboard. To this day, though, I can’t pull off much as an ollie.
Instead, I learned Tony Hawk. The arcade influenced Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (THPS2) became my skateboarding outlet and I learned all the tricks I fantasized about in a virtual park.
It’s been a few years since the Tony Hawk franchise has been the top skateboarding game. The latest entries, Project 8 and the motion controlled experiment, Ride, were critical and commercial failures, and EA’s more realistic Skate series has been the king of skateboarding games for some time. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD combines the original Tony Hawk and fan favorite Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 into one game.
The big question is: is the traditional Tony Hawk formula still relevant? The quick answer is yes, but the game certainly isn’t perfect.
Putting together lines that consist of grinds, manuals and a variety of tricks is still as intuitive as it always was. Surprisingly, after spending significant time with Skate’s more realistic joystick controls, returning to the Tony Hawk franchise’s simplicity was somewhat refreshing. I quickly remembered the game’s mechanics and was racking up scores in the 100,000?s in a matter of minutes. Players new to the franchise will have difficulty adjusting to its break neck pace and arcade controls, especially if they’ve played a lot of Skate.
The title’s simple fetch quest-like objectives are still as frustrating as they used to be. Players who are fans of the franchise will remember level lay outs and item placement. Surprisingly, I remembered many objectives. Thankfully, in this HD remake you can view an in-game map that allows the player to see the specific location of items and objectives. After completing the game’s original objectives, a set of new, much harder tasks is given.
Graphically, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD looks great. The title’s levels maintain Hawk’s original look and feel, but it has a fresh coat of modern, high definition graphics thrown on it. This means, for better or worse, the game’s oft-wonky physics are still present.
When I first heard about this HD remake I was pretty excited. I wanted to get a few friends together and play some HORSE. To my shock, local multiplayer and the HORSE gameplay mode—a feature that has multiple players competing for high trick scores—are not in this HD remake. There is multiplayer, but it’s online only.
The game’s 90?s pop punk soundtrack is as refreshing as it was when the titles were first released but a few notable tracks are missing (mainly anything by Rage Against The Machine.) Also, since the title is a mash up of the first two Tony Hawk’s levels and features, I expected to be able to create my own skater (one of the best features of THPS2).
The level selection is a bit off, too. But one thing stayed the same: the mall was a terrible level way back in 1998 and it’s still a horribly designed level today.
Many of the original two cohorts of pro skaters aren’t present. You can play as Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen and a few other professional skateboarders from the original game, but many are completely absent. My dreams of playing as Bucky Lasek in HD were completely crushed.
This is a title will be expanded on post-release through DLC packages. A Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 package which includes more levels and the ability to perform revert tricks has already been announced.
The nostalgia factor plays a huge role in making Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD a fun experience and gamers that grew up playing Skate may be put off by Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD’s forgiving arcade style gameplay.
Still, if you’re able to look past the title’s lack of local multiplayer and create-a-skater mode, this is the same solid Tony Hawk game you had a great time playing 14 years ago—it’s just a little nicer to look at this time around.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD was released on July 18, 2012 on the Xbox 360?s Xbox Live Arcade and is 1200 Microsoft Points.