Retro Monday: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”

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Title: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Developer: Neversoft

Publisher: Activision

Released: August 1999


Some of you may have read my thoughts on the new game “Goat Simulator”. In the write up I say how it harkens me back my younger years playing “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”. Whether that is good for a brand new game to remind me of a game that came out 14 years ago is yet to be decided. Anyway, ‘Pro Skater’…

During the 90’s, getting a celebrity face on a game was the way to go. That is what happened with Tony Hawk. Being a champion, the first person to land a 900° spin and (as I found out looking up stuff for this) he has a 144 I.Q. Neversoft decided on Tony after his debut at X Games 1998.

The game sees you play as one of 10 skaters in nine different levels. For six of the levels there are five objectives called ‘tapes’, after ‘VCR tapes’. If you don’t know what a VCR is, you missed out. Ask your elders. The other three levels are competition levels where you play for a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Rather then having ‘tapes’ you have a timed high score run where you are judged by at random by a selection of AI judges. You basically just need to get as close to a pre-set high score as possible and bail (fall off the skateboard) as little as possible as bailing acts as a score deduction.

Some people may remember my retro review of “Thrasher: Skate & Destroy” a few weeks back. Both ‘Pro Skater’ and ‘Skate & Destroy’ was released at pretty much the same time (Fall 1999) so they where in direct competition. ‘Skate & Destroy’ was called the more sim-like experience and was the more technically competent of the two, while ‘Pro Skater’ was pinned as the graphically superior of the two and was easer to play due to more simple, pick-up-and-play controls.

Out of the two, I have always preferred ‘Pro Skater’ to ‘Skate & Destroy’. I liked it to such a point I own ‘Pro Skater’ 1 – 4, the “Tony Hawk’s Underground” 1 and 2 sequels, “Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland”, and “Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground”. Other people must think the same because the series still goes on today. Although it isn’t as popular as before due to the latest section of the series comprising of Wii peripherals and a HD re-release of ‘Pro Skater’ 1/2. Even I, a devout fan of the series, think that the latest entries are pretty crap. The peak of the series for me was ‘Underground 2’ but it wouldn’t be surprising if you thought ‘Proving Ground’ was the peak.

When it came out, ‘Pro Skater’ quickly became the king of extreme sports games. Neversoft even tried to make lighting strike twice with two BMX games with Matt Hoffman, a Shaun Palmer snowboarding game, a Kelly Slater surfing game and even used the engine they used for “Pro Skater 4” for a Disney skating game. Recently, Neversoft was at the helm of “Guitar Hero” series after Harmonix jumped to make “Rock Band”. But most recently, Neversoft helmed ‘Extinction Mode’ for “Call of Duty: Ghosts”. There may even be a sign that they may be making more of that sort of thing because they advertised for more programmers experienced with first person shooters design.

It may off been the king of its day but in a modern perspective its faces the odd problem that it is beaten by itself. With the shear amount of sequels that came out, there is a newer, more modern Tony Hawk’s game you are bound to enjoy more. There’s “Underground 2” for silly, Bam Margera ludicrousness, “Underground 1” or “American Wasteland” for stylized story based game, or “Proving Ground” for arcade-esqe experience. As a retro game experience from the 90’s its ok but if you want something more updated there is big selection of better games from its own series to chose from.

Retro Score 4.5/5

Modern Score: 2.5/5

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