Review: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD (XBLA)

Review: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD (XBLA)

Music is a very strong memory anchor. To this day, over a decade later, any time I hear Lagwagon’s “May 16th,” or Millencolin’s “No Cigar,” or Goldfinger’s “Superman,” I suddenly find myself grinding the helicopter blades in Hangar, or taking that first rolling ramp down into the Warehouse, or pulling off my first 900, or any of the various other memories I have from the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games. I can still remember playing the original game on my PlayStation for the first time. I had been actively skating for around two years at that point, so a skateboarding video game starring Tony Hawk himself was something that I just couldn’t live without. It went on to become one of my favorite games ever, along with its numbered sequels.

Imagine my absolute DELIGHT when it was announced that select levels from the first two games in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series would be put together in a remastered Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD for digital download? It was significant, to say the least. Finally, it was dated as the opening game of 2012’s Summer of Arcade XBLA promotion, and my anticipation had a solid timeframe. I’ve been playing THPSHD for the last week, now, and…well, let’s get to it, shall we?

Details first. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, developed by Robomodo and published by Activision, gives you classic levels with a mix of classic and new skaters and songs. Level offerings consist of Warehouse, School II, The Hangar, Mall, Venice Beach, Downhill Jam, and Marseille. Each level starts off with 10 goals. They all have three Score goals, one S-K-A-T-E goal, one Secret DVD goal (replacing the classic VHS), a “Collect 5 X items” goal, and a 100% Goals and Cash completion goal. Aside from those, they each have three level specific goals. Once you’ve completed every goal in every level with a single skater, you unlock the Projective (Pro Objective) game mode, which reduces your level timer from 2:00 to 1:00, and introduces five NEW goals for each level. These are all standard: Sickest Score (a bump over the Sick Score goal), Collect C-O-M-B-O (all letters must be collected within the same combo trick), Collect 8 Skateboards, Land a X (points) Combo, and Bonesless the Magic Bum 3X.

The soundtrack features half classic and half new. The classics returning are Public Enemy ft. Anthrax’s “Bring the Noise,” Goldfinger’s “Superman,” Powerman 5000’s “When Worlds Collide,” Consumed’s “Heavy Metal Winner,” Lagwagon’s “May 16th,” Millencolin’s “No Cigar,” and Bad Religion’s “You.” There are some old tracks that I’m definitely missing, but these are good, solid tracks to play to. The new tracks, for the most part, fit in fairly well with the classic tracks and the feel of the game, but I don’t care enough about them to list them all.

The basic roster consists of Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, Nyjah Huston, Chris Cole, Riley Hawk, Jake Harrison, Emily Westlund, and your Xbox LIVE Avatar. Each skater has various strengths, but all can be equally leveled as you progress and spend your hard earned cash. Upgrade skills consist of Air, Hang Time, Ollie, Speed, Spin, Landing, Switch, Rail Balance, Lip Balance, and Manual Balance. Each skill consists of ten levels, with each skill starting at a different level for different skaters. As you upgrade your skills, each successive upgrade costs just a little more money, so that you’ll need to really hit a good chunk of each level’s goals in order to max your stats. You’ll also be able to use that earned money in the Skate Shop to upgrade your lip, grab, and flip tricks, along with your special tricks and your board.

Aside from the normal career mode in the single player game, you have the ability to Free Skate a level, play a 2:00 minute Single Session of a level, try a Big Head Elimination round (where you have to perform successful tricks to reduce your swelling head, which swells increasingly faster as the level goes on) in a level, or play through unlockable game modes like Hawkman (pellets strung out around the level that you must gobble up like Pac-Man) and Projective (detailed previously). Leveling up each of your skaters and going through the bonus goals of each of the additional modes provides an incredible amount of replay value and content. Finally, you also have a strong multiplayer mode with returning classic game modes Trick Attack and Graffiti, and including Free Skate and Big Head Elimination.

Now, for the complaints. Unfortunately, the multiplayer is online only. Local players are left out in the cold on this one. Also, while the faithful recreation of the original games’ mechanics is wonderful, it also means that some of the more frustrating minor issues have returned as well. Feel like coming to a quick, controlled stop on a short surface after a high speed vert trick? Tough! Feel like having any semblance of control over your navigation as you try to reorient slow yourself after a high speed vert trick? Tough! These are, of course, minor mechanic issues that can be solved with the application of SKILL (which I have in spades). The biggest letdown is the lack of a level creator/editor. I had a lot of fun back in the day putting together some crazy maps, and I’d love to see this feature make its way to THPSHD in the future along with the confirmed THPS3 DLC and anticipated THPS4 DLC.

The best thing I can say about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is that, while writing this review, I stopped no fewer than half a dozen times to get in “just one more quick run on Marseille…” The levels and mechanics of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 have been beautifully recreated and updated, while hearing Millencolin, Goldfinger, Public Enemy (ft. Anthrax), and the rest of the classic returning songs instantly takes me back to the floor of my old bedroom with my PlayStation controller in hand. This may be slightly biased due to my nostalgic love for the classic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, but Summer of Arcade has never been off to a stronger start. Kudos to Robomodo for successfully recreating one of my favorite gaming experiences of all time.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is available now on XBLA for 1200MSP.

Review

ProsCons
Mechanics and levels have been faithfully recreated
Classic songs are classic - new songs mostly fit in very well
So much content - single player, single player projectives, multiplayer, etc.
Platform for future DLC from THPS3/THPS4
Desperately missing park creator/editor
The few minor annoying mechanics from the original titles remain
Online multiplayer only
Rating
90 out of 100
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