|What more can be said about Tony Hawks Pro Skater? In case
youve been asleep since last fall, here are the gorey details: Neversoft developed
the worlds greatest skateboarding game; Activision published it; everybody loved it,
even gamers who dont skate; it sold over a million copies. Now, Edge of Reality has
converted THPS to the N64, and it is a beautiful translation. The only things N64 fans
lost are the video clips you get when beating the game with a skater. But, as if to make
up for that loss, EoR added a tutorial section that shows the commands for all the tricks.
When you finish the game with a skater, the special moves not documented in the manual are
shown in the tutorial mode.
So thats the short review. If youve played this at a friends house, or just read the many articles and reviews of the original PlayStation version, you know exactly what to expect. You may now proceed directly to your local games retailer and pick up a copy, assured that not a damn thing has been lost in the conversion. If you havent heard enough, or at all, about THPS, then read on.
In THPS you play one of ten skaters, Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Kareem Cambell, Rune Glifberg, Bucky Lasek, Chad Muska, Andrew Reynolds, Geoff Rowley, Elissa Steamer, or Jamie Thomas. In Career Mode, you take your skater through a series of levels, including the warehouse, the school, the mall, trying to accomplish certain tasks to collect video tapes. Mixed in with these levels are contests, which take place in Chicago, Roswell, or Portlands Burnside skatepark, and the ultimate goal is to collect all the tapes and take first place in all the contests. Because they eliminated the video endings, the tapes may seem a little out of place, but that doesnt matter because getting them is the fun part.
Each level that isnt a contest has five tasks: a high and higher score to achieve, collect the letters S-K-A-T-E, find the hidden tape, and a final chore that is level-specific. For example, on the San Francisco level you must grind on five cop cars, and you must destroy five mall directories on that level. The hidden tape goal is almost always the most difficult. Because you can ride on nearly every surface in the game, those tapes could be stashed anywhere. Youll skate to the rooftops of buildings, make insane jumps, and grind giant, hard-to-reach rails in pursuit of the hidden tapes. Getting all of the tapes with at least one of the skaters is a good idea, too, because then you gain access to a new character.
There are also Single Session and Free Skate modes for individual play, and both are great. Free Skate lets you discover secrets and techniques on the levels without that pesky time limit, and every skater I know is obsessed with besting his high score on Single Session. The Two Player mode is incredible. You can play one of three games: Graffitti, Trick Attack, or HORSE. In Graffitti, you and a friend skate around a level, "tagging" different objects by doing a trick off them. When you land a trick, the object glows with your color, and you can steal opponents objects by doing bigger, better tricks off them. In Trick Attack, two skaters get to putz around on a level to see who gets the best score. HORSE is the old game where one player does a trick, then the next player must match or beat it. If not, he gets a letter, and play continues. As on the PSX version, you can chose any word to play to, so you can embarrass your competition by making them MULLETHEADs or whatever other shameful tag you care to assign.
Control on the N64 is almost identical to the PSX version, so all that practice wont go wasted. You use the digital pad to move, shoulder buttons to rotate, and the four C buttons to pull tricks. At first, using the C buttons so much is tricky, but I quickly got used to it. The default button arrangement and function is still the same: ollie, grab, flip trick, grind/slide. Tricks are performed through D-pad and button combos, and all the tricks from the PSX version made it in. There are dozens of tricks you can perform, including signature moves like Tony Hawks 900 degree spin, and the possibilities for trick combinations are infinite. Again, since you can use almost every surface, from picnic tables to street lamps, every inch of every level is just a trick waiting to happen.
The graphics and sound on THPS are unbeatable. Well, the DC version will surely make us aware of the limitations of both the N64 and PSX, but the game does stand out in its class. Whats interesting, but not at all shocking, is how the N64 graphics are no better than those on the PSX. They are also not any worse, although the N64 version does seem to suffer from a little more draw-in, especially on some of the bigger levels. That, however, is pretty minor, and limited mainly to Minneapolis and San Francisco. What is truly impressive is how well the sound translated to the N64. THPS boasts a soundtrack featuring the Vandals, the Dead Kennedys, the Suicide Machines, Primus, and more, and all of it is crammed into that little N64 cartridge. The sound effects are the same as well it still sounds like youre skating, which is amazing. Wheels rumble according to surface and surrounding, and trucks give that satisfying grind when applied to metal rails.
If you are a skater, or skateboarding fan, you already knew all of the above, and are most likely just checking to see if Im doing my job. Well, I am. I dont think I left anything out, and if I did it was more for the sake of brevity. I cannot recommend this game more. However, if you are not a skater or fan, then you might be wondering how good this game could really be. You probably think I am a fan, and people who arent wouldnt be interested. Well, you havent been paying attention to your gaming news.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater is one of the greatest games ever made. The amount of variety and the technical excellence of the game takes it beyond the skateboarding genre. If youve ever enjoyed games that require you to develop a set of skills, think about fighting games, twitch shooters, and many puzzlers, then you will love THPS.