Once again, the Birdman has
successfully conquered a handheld system. Since we got over that whole Game Boy Color
phase, games like Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 have become a lot more fun on the portable
console. Like number two in the series, THPS3 succeeds in all the right ways, putting the
infinite replayability and addictive gameplay of the beefier home console versions in your
pocket. Its just what we needed an excuse to veg out on THPS3 when were
away from the TV. Playing on your GBA in the sunshine is almost like getting real
exercise, and much more fun than actual exertion.
Writing the review for THPS3 on the
GBA is actually a bit more fun than reviewing the console versions of the game because it
is a little different. So we get to spend most of our time here outlining the differences.
I assume that most of my readers are familiar with Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3. You can
check reviews on PS2, PC, and Xbox if youre unfamiliar with the
series. The GBA version of THPS3 stays pretty close to the original. All of the original
moves are still in the game, so you can pull huge combos to your hearts content
making use of the manual and revert move. Just as in the console or PC version of THPS3,
the revert move is essential to really progressing in the GBA version, and like the GBA
version of THPS2, the graphics and control scheme is handled very well. Although each
level is seen through a static isometric perspective, that single annoyance is relatively
easy to get over. There is always some frustration in not landing your revert just right
because you cant actually see the ramp youre riding, but overall the camera
angle becomes fairly easy to deal with as you progress in the game.
As many of the
original features of the beefier home version of THPS3 have been kept in the GBA version.
You can now create a custom skater to either abuse or further the fantasy of yourself as a
pro skater. The levels have been trimmed down, both in physical size and number. The
Foundry, Suburbia, Rio, the Airport, Los Angeles and Tokyo made it into the GBA version.
Each of these levels retains the design, look and general feel of those in the home
version, but each of them have been radically redesigned to accommodate the GBA. They are
not small levels by any means, and the differences are welcome. It adds another reason to
play the handheld version because of these new designs. To accompany the new level
layouts, there are new goals in each level. For example, in Suburbia you must now steal a
hot dog and get it to a bum, and in Los Angeles you must grind a dinosaur statue.
All the play
modes have made it into the game career mode, free skate, single session, and a
bevy of multiplayer games. This time around, you can hotseat a game of HORSE, which is a
very welcome addition to the GBA version. That means you and a friend can pass the GBA
back and forth to play HORSE, one of the most popular multiplayer modes and the only one
that doesnt require both skaters to hit the level at the same time. Other
multiplayer modes, available for up to four players using the Game Link cable, include
Trick Attack, Tag, King of the Hill, and Free Skate. Other modes of play become available
after beating the game in various ways, too.
and sound on THPS3 for the GBA are just excellent. Animations look very nice, and the game
comes very close to approaching the first generation of THPS in graphic quality. The
environments are just as interactive as in the full-blown version of the game, although I
did notice just a slight difference in how easy it is to get on rails and ledges. In the
home version, you can truly skate whatever you can envision skating. In the GBA version,
you can do the same, but sometimes it is trickier to make those trucks stick on a
particular edge. Once you get used to the different button placement on the GBA, the game
can be just as engrossing and rewarding as the original version.
And like the
original version, there is plenty to keep you coming back. You unlock movies for each of
the skaters as you complete their careers. You unlock secret characters like Wolverine and
Shaun Palmer as you finish various skaters careers. There is a sponsor tour mode
which changes the locations of various items and a whole armload of cheats, costumes, and
various little treats to unlock as you complete the game with different skaters and in
different modes. This game will definitely keep you busy for awhile.
Hawks Pro Skater 3 for GBA is one of the best GBA titles to own. Packing loads and
loads of THPS goodness, this will keep you busy for hours. Because the game is so good,
and so popular, there is a decent chance that you will even be able to find other THPS
fans to link up with and get some multiplayer rolling. Although the look and feel of the
GBA version will never be quite as perfect as the home version, it doesnt get much
closer than this. Go skate!