There are many games I can recall playing for hours in my youth – Pokémon Red, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Mario World, to name the big ones. For years I spent my time in worlds that could best be described as imaginary (if not extraordinary), but my first adventure in (somewhat) realistic gaming was not Goldeneye, not Madden, but the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) series.
THPS featured an exciting and challenging new style of gameplay, which I could even poorly attempt in real life. I learned about the pros – Tony, Bam, and Bucky – the tricks – benihana, airwalk, and indy 900 – and the skater lingo -revert, grind, manual, and goofy foot. I began with the first iteration of the series on my Nintendo 64, but I truly became a fan with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, which I continued to play until the current generation, meaning the last Tony Hawk game I bought was Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, which was released in 2004. Eight years later, I’m finally going to return to the games of my tweenage years with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, or… THPSHD… takes the best levels of the original two games and brings them further into the twenty-first century: better graphics, HD resolution and they’re even replacing the hidden tape with a hidden DVD! Although it is being developed Robomodo instead of Neversoft, Activision gave Robomodo the original blueprints for the levels, so everywhere you play will be just like you left it over ten years ago, only in a much higher resolution and running on the Unreal Engine 3. The fantastic soundtrack of the original games is also returning – well, half of it. In an interview with Mr. Hawk himself, he states that as the games have progressed so has music, so the half of the soundtrack will feature tracks from the original games, while the other half will be more recent tracks. Finally, the Tony Hawk’s latest will feature levels from the original two games, but gameplay elements from more recent versions, such as manuals and reverts, in order to creating longer combos and increase gameplay.
New graphics, updated gameplay, and great music are not all the game has to offer. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD will be a downloadable game on XBLA and PSN, so as a game that comes from the internet, it will take full advantage of the internet. At least leaderboards, online play and DLC are all coming to the game. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was the first game in which I experienced online play, and perhaps the most exciting aspect of this was the level creator and uploader. Not only could you create any sort of insane, physically impossible level you wanted, but you could play levels from others as well. No word has been released on what the five online modes will be, but as a staple to the original series’ online play, I’m sure this will be there. On Wednesday, the game’s first set of downloadable content was revealed to be levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, making an already stellar level selection to have the potential to become even better.
Games like this changed the world of gaming – at least for a good four or five years they did – and they’re about to change it again… maybe. Anyway, this summer, if you’re tired of Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3, and the wait is too long for Assassin’s Creed 3 and Bioshock 3 – I mean, Bioshock Infinite – then Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is looking like it’s going to be a good stand in for the time being. The game is said to drop this July. More details about the game and its release date are sure to come at this year’s E3.