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by Activision

2-01.jpg (6564 bytes)Once again, the Birdman has successfully conquered a handheld system. Since we got over that whole Game Boy Color phase, games like Tony Hawk’s 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. It’s just what we needed – an excuse to veg out on THPS3 when we’re away from the TV. Playing on your GBA in the sunshine is almost like getting real exercise, and much more fun than actual exertion.

7-01.jpg (6741 bytes)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 Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. You can check reviews on PS2, PC, and Xbox if you’re 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 heart’s 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 can’t actually see the ramp you’re riding, but overall the camera angle becomes fairly easy to deal with as you progress in the game.

8-01.jpg (6750 bytes)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.

5-01.jpg (7103 bytes)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 doesn’t 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.

9-01.jpg (6889 bytes)The graphics 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.

6-01.jpg (7221 bytes)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 skater’s 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.

3-01.jpg (8212 bytes)Tony Hawk’s 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 doesn’t get much closer than this. Go skate!

Shawn Rider   (04/24/2002)


Ups: Graphics; control; lots of modes and reasons to replay; multiplayer.

Downs: Isometric camera angle; sometimes environments are a little tricky.

Platform: GBA