The Summer of Arcade is here once again and we have a few goodies coming our way this year. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the first release of the bundle and its a full 900 degree spin of awesomeness. Featuring classic locales in HD from the first and second games in the series, with new game modes and online play, its the perfect reboot for one of the best games of it’s time. Those new to the series will also finally be able to see what all the fuss was about back in the late 90’s, but may have a harder time appreciating it for what it was because not a single mechanic of the gameplay was changed: for better or worse.
There is definitely a nostalgic value for Tony Hawk that is being played on and you’re either on board or not. (No pun intended.) Those most familiar with the PSOne classics will feel right at home after collecting the letters “S-K-A-T-E” for the first time, others may just dismiss it as a old-game that had no right showing its face around town again. Even fans of the later installments might feel left out with no Reverts, Wallplants, or Cavemans to continue their combo. That just means no 2,000,000 point combos, which I feel cheapened the series later on anyway, but there is already talk of reverts coming in the next DLC.
The main additions to the series come in the form of two new game modes: Big Head Survival and Hawkman. In Big Head Survival mode, your skater’s head grows to gigantic proportions and you must nail tricks to prevent your head from exploding. This is one of my favorite modes because it’s fast paced and hilarious to watch as Tony’s head grows to unrealistic enormous before popping into a cloud of blood-soaked confetti. The new Hawkman mode is similar to Pac-man in the sense that you have a trail of dots that must be collected while performing certain tricks. Yellow dots are grinds, blue are wallrides, green are manuals, and red are air. The real challenge lies in trying to gather all the dots in a single combo and while the game usually doesn’t require you to do so, it will help your line and improve your knowledge of the level.
Some of the new features this time around are extremely helpful and awesome. While most of us remember the location of the Secret DVD in the Warehouse, if you are unfamiliar with the level there is now a map at the pause screen showcasing every goal and it’s location. You may protest that adding a map removes the exploration aspect to the game and you may be right, but since there are no new levels or secrets to be found it acts as a nice reference. There is also the addition of the “Quick Retry” button. By simply pressing the “back” button you instantly are reset to the beginning of the level maintaining any goals you’ve collected along the way. This makes completing the game much quicker and there’s no need to feel bad if you mess up your line because you can restart in a matter of seconds.
Unfortunately, with all the new features added, there are a handful of favorites that didn’t make the cut. “Create-a-Skater” and the “Park Editor” are nowhere to be found, although you can skate as your Avatar which adds a nice touch (even if the proportions are way off). You can’t dress up the skaters with new clothes. This was replaced by each skater having two different style options, the secondary style becoming available after completing their career. You also can’t fully customize the skateboards either, instead you left to sort through a small collection of five or six preset boards. Probably the biggest let down was the removal of couch co-op. Many days have my friends and I stayed up way too late playing Graffiti in my living room and those days cannot be recreated unless you have two different living rooms…in two different houses, because you can only play mulitplayer over Xbox Live.
All-in-all though, this is an awesome reboot for an awesome series and I had a blast getting a chance to “ollie the magic bum” one more time. While I was disappointed with the lack of features and customization, you can’t be mad at the solid gameplay and classic level design throughout. Even after all these years, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater still holds a special little place in my heart.
What did you think of the new Tony Hawk? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!