Xbox Summer of Arcade has started with its first big release. A classic made into high-definition; Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. Can this version bring back the magic the original brought a second time or should it have bailed?
I can’t even count the number of hours I put into the original Tony Hawk series. It came out at a perfect time. Jackass the movie was released and inspired people to do stupid things, skateboarding was also making a comeback. My friends and I would play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and than go outside and try out some of the moves and fail. Now the game looks prettier but feels different.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skated HD is more of a celebration of the series (when it was good) rather than a reboot or remake. Essentially taking some of the memorable levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 and thankfully excluding Tony Hawk Underground and combining them to make a new game. The open-roam aspect is (thankfully) gone coming back to the checklist structure the first couple of games were based on. You have two minutes to complete as many goals as you can, this includes collecting the letters to form the word S-K-A-T-E, reaching a “sick score”, finding a hidden DVD (which in the original was a Hidden tape, so nice update there) and level specific goals. This is true arcade classic and really is the way to play a Tony Hawk title. But you better remember what the checklist said since you can’t, for some reason, bring up the checklist during gameplay. There were moments where I couldn’t remember if i had to jump over a hobo two or three times and couldn’t check the list. Very odd.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD does bring back memories since it’s been a long time since the original was played but the physics feels sort of clunky. I’m not usually one to rag on physics but I remember the series being loose and more arcade-like whereas this time it feels heavier and harder to control. I find the skater I choose falls at every crack on the floor and sometime will float through the ceiling for no reason. The controls aren’t as tight as I remember either, maybe it’s the old age but it didn’t feel right. I had a hard time doing simple things like steering my character onto a pipe to grind and he/she would would awkwardly fall into the pipe.
A lot of your favorite skaters make a comeback including Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen and more and the great things is you can even play as your avatar which is fun to see and is actually funny mostly because of how out of place it is. The create-a-skater feature is sadly missing but playing as a cartoon-character wearing a Sonic outfit is still good enough. Playing as each character earns you cash which can be used towards your stats, like Ollie, Grind, Manual and so on, or can be used to buy new tricks or skateboards. There also aren’t that many levels, about 7, which included classics like the Hangar, Downhill Jam, School, Warehouse and more, all the way you remember except this time crisp and more realistic looking.
The soundtrack sort of makes a return too. The only song I was hoping to make it in there was Bad Religion’s “You”, and it’s there! There are just a handful of songs from the old titles and I’m surprised they got that many since I’m sure it’s expensive and due to licensing there could have been some holds. Music is opinion-based so I can’t say if they’re all great, I can however say there is enough of them and hopefully more in the future.
Multiplayer alone is a reason to own this. I’m surprised how much I enjoyed playing trick attack and the old classic, graffiti. This is something the original series missed out on (since the Internet wasn’t invented until 2010) so being able to play with friends or strangers online is always fun. You can even check the leaderboards and show your friends who’s the true skater. The odd thing however is that you can’t play local multiplayer, forcing you to only play online. Still, playing online will definitely keep you busy as you try to score as many points as you can to become the Lord of Dogtown (that’s a thing right?).
The gameplay in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is more or less the same as it originally was, although like mentioned it does feel a lot heavier to control. Control isn’t as easy as it once was but it’s not unplayable. grinding on a rail, then jumping into a kick-flip, while manualing for 10 seconds while continuing the combo by doing a 360 melon is still as enjoyable to see as it is to accomplish. Of course a lot of these trick can be further experiences with if you have the brain capacity to remember the button combos as well since, like the checklist, it can’t be brought up during actual gameplay for some reason.
The only way to see your movelist is when you’re buying new tricks. This really hurt the experience as I was doing the same trick because for the life of me couldn’t remember how to do a special and didn’t feel like exiting the game just to write it down on a physical piece of paper. You can however check a map which shows you where all the items are, but I found this useless since it doesn’t show where you are on the map, sort of defeating the whole thing.
If you’re new to the series you might feel a little under-whelmed since you’ve most likely played other skateboard titles. If you’re an old fan however you might feel a little giddy inside. It looks better but somewhere in the back of your mind you remember it playing so much better. It’s definitely not bad, just different. Still the music, and HD upgrade is nice, but silly things like not being able to check your to do list or check your own trick list during gameplay are things that have to be fixed. When standing back and looking at it as a whole, it’s actually not bad. The amount of skaters should keep you busy, and online multiplayer will definitely keep you busy especially with free skate. I’m not going to lie, it’s good to see a Pro Skater title that I still enjoy playing after all these years. It’s especially good to see one that looks a lot better than this.
Pro (Skater…haha)HD looks good
Play as your avatar
Online multiplayer Soundtrack
ConsControls feel tight Physics are crazy Can’t check your checklist during gameplay Can’t check your trick-list during gameplay