Remember, those scabs on your knees are a sign of achievement. Wear them with pride!
Summer is finally here. How do I know this considering the awful weather we in the UK have experienced lately? Because the Xbox Live Arcade Summer of Arcade promotion has started. And what better way to start the Summer of Arcade than with some extreme sports. Anyone fancy scabby knees and elbows?
Going back to a time when you couldn’t move for extreme sports videogames, Activision have presented the gaming world with an updated version of the daddy of all extreme sports games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. But hold onto that Eggplant for just a minute, this isn’t just an HD splash on the original Pro Skater game, but more of a tweaked HD “best of…” compilation of the first two games. The original developers Neversoft were obviously off doing other things, so the task came down to Robomodo to bring this title grinding its way onto XBLA.
Anyone who remembers the original games will know what to expect here, especially considering the majority of the game is the same, just a bit smarter looking. Players are given a semi open-world level and must skate their way around it, collecting items and fulfilling objectives in order to unlock the next level. The player is presented with overall scores to beat during their two minute run, with the “sick” score being incredibly out of reach. They are tasked to collect items such as hidden DVDs (which replace the VHS tapes of the original), the letters S,K,A,T,E, or hall passes. And they are given precise objectives to achieve, such as kick-flipping a certain gap, knocking over a load of barrels or wall-riding across some school bells.
The levels in the game consist of three from the original game and four from Pro Skater 2. It is not a huge amount of content, which is disappointing, but I have a sneaky suspicion that DLC will be incoming, offering more levels to play through. The levels are all well designed and faithful to the originals, with secrets for players to find and trick lines that will rack up massive scores for those who can pull them off.
The controls are just as well done, or just as infuriating, as they were in the far distant past. Face buttons control Ollies, kick tricks, lip tricks and grabs, whilst the triggers add a bit of spin. The moves are all contextual, so players need to learn what move can be accessed where, but otherwise it is all straight-forward and relatively faithful to the original. I know that wall-rides are just as difficult to pull off now as they were then.
Playing through the career, the player will have the chance to upgrade their character to a near unstoppable skating god, in theory at least. Beyond the career though, there are a few other modes, and some online multiplayer in place of anything local. Playing online is a lot of fun, but feels slightly alien considering this was never an option in the originals. A couple of new modes have also been added in the form of Hawkman and Big Head Survival (which is hilarious fun as the player has to perform tricks to stop their head exploding).
It is the visuals however, where Robomodo have made the biggest difference. New textures can be seen everywhere, and the skaters themselves look much more modern (and some new skaters have been added, including Tony’s son). But there do seem to have been a number of glitches make their way into this HD reworking, with characters often cutting through objects, and the bail animations have taken on a ragdoll effect which isn’t as impressive as it sounds.
As an older gamer who remembers the originals, Pro Skater HD has been an absolute blast, especially as I remember where many of the secrets are. However, I am not sure what younger gamers will make of this title. Gaming has evolved and the gameplay may seem simplistic as a result. It also doesn’t help that there are only seven maps in total, limiting the longevity – at least until the inevitable DLC arrives.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is retro gaming with a new coat of paint. Younger gamers may well wonder what all of the fuss is about, but for anyone who remembers the classic Tony Hawk gameplay, and has a yearning to get those thumbs all battered and bruised whilst chasing the “sick” scores, this will certainly hit the spot. A great way to start this year’s Summer of Arcade.