The Tony Hawk franchise has returned to its roots. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to reinvent the Tony Hawk video game franchise, developer Robomodo has brought back Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a downloadable game that combines the best elements of the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games and gives them an HD update.
The mix of skaters included in the game show the developers desire to attract both fans of the original game and the new audience. Tony Hawk is included, of course. So is son, Riley Hawk, as well as Rodney Mullen, Eric Koston, Nyjah Houston, Andrew Reynolds, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, and Chris Cole. There are also a few additional characters that can be unlocked.
Seven levels from the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games are featured. Tony Hawk personally chose Downhill Jam to appear in the remake. The rest of the levels were chosen by fans. Warehouse, School II, Mall, Hangar, Venice Beach, and Marseille were voted in.
Unfortunately, there is no park creator or player editor. However, the game does include the option to use an Xbox Live avatar as a skater.
Robomodo has promised downloadable content that will add more levels and skaters. The first DLC will include levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 along with the addition of the revert mechanic.
Although the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is still an entertaining game, it is completely outdated. The HD remake reiterates that. The changes to the levels are obvious from the start. Minor details are now much more obvious and the improved lighting complements the environments perfectly. The inside of a warehouse looks and feels much different than Venice Beach with the sun setting.
Player models are created in much greater detail. Sponsors are probably most happy about this as the differences between Nike SBs and DC shoes have never been more apparent.
However, the game is not without glitches. Skaters sometimes go halfway through walls, although it is mostly during bails. Falls are also interesting to watch as high-flying bails have the same animation as on ground falls. Spots of blood spurt across the screen even if the skater has not fallen onto an object.
There was some concern over whether the original soundtrack would be returning. Robomodo was able to secure rights to some of the game’s most memorable tracks, including “Superman” by Goldfinger and “Bring the Noise” by Public Enemy. A few new songs were also added to the soundtrack.
Some might consider the gameplay mechanics as stale but they are true to the roots of the Pro Skater series. Each button designates a certain trick style and can be changed based on directional buttons. It takes a few sessions before muscle memory kicks in for anyone who played the original. It is certainly easier to get the hang of than the complex systems used in modern skating games.
The ability to manual was not added until the second installment of the series but it is included in all levels in the HD remake. It is much easier to land “sick scores” with the ability to string large combos together with manuals.
The career mode is the main portion of the game. Gamers can unlock levels and upgrade skaters by completing missions specific to each level. Some missions have been brought up to date. Instead of a secret tape, a secret DVD is hidden within each level. After completing all missions in the career mode, an even more difficult series of objectives, called Projectives, are unlocked.
All of the addicting multiplayer modes from the original games are back. Trick Attack and Graffiti are the same classic matches that remain fun time after time. The new addition to multiplayer is the Big Head Elimination mode. When tricks are not being landed, the head of the player expands. It will eventually pop like a balloon if no tricks are being performed. As players get deeper into the match, the inflation rate will increase continually. These matches can be quite nerve-racking with the increasing intensity.
Online matches are easy to join and connect quickly. Menus make it easy to enter a specific game mode and matches are usually easy to find. However, the online lobbies can be confusing as it is easy to accidentally exit.
Unfortunately, there is no local multiplayer for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. This is unacceptable for a remake of a classic game. Many fans of the original series built strong memories while playing split-screen multiplayer against friends. Nobody was playing online on the first PlayStation so the lack of local multiplayer is a giant miscue. Robomodo could easily add this feature with a patch and due to the positive reception of the game, there is a strong chance they will.
There is not enough meat in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD to make it a worthwhile full-fledged game but as a downloadable title, it is well worth the $15. It is as entertaining and frustrating as the original. It is also encouraging that Robomodo will be providing continuous support for the game.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is available now via the Xbox Live Arcade (as reviewed here). It will also be available soon for PlayStation 3 and PC.