Sloof Lirpa



Tony Hawk's Final Fantasy Amateur Skater Review

By: John Doe

It's official: Videogame designers have officially run out of ideas. Putting Tony Hawk and his board in a Final Fantasy based storyline is not only farfetched but completely idiotic. That's at least what I thought, until I played the game. 80 hours later, I emerged from the basement with a whole new outlook on life. I had played the best skateboarding/arcade/RPG that I had ever played and life was good. Very good.


Due to the extreme popularity of Final Fantasy 8 and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Activision and Squaresoft put there heads together and came up with a revolutionary concept: Tony Hawk as the lead character in a skateboarding RPG that features the tape collecting stunts of Tony's game, with the melodramatic pathos of a Final Fantasy storyline. They fleshed out the plot, and searched for a team capable of pulling off what will probably be considered one of the finest moments in gaming history, next to Lara Croft's Naked Trampoline Party game for the PC. Upstart development team, Sloof Lirpa based in California, rose to the challenge and the rest just might be history.

You start the game as Bellisimo, an orphaned child on the planet Kronusvilla. Watching your parents being murdered before your very eyes, has left you mute, but burning with rage. You seek revenge but are unable to leave the planet and track the killer, due to government restrictions. Within a short period of time, you meet a girl named Rosa who you fall in love with. As you work your way through the first part of the game (at least 8 hours in game time), you will watch the relationship grow between you and Rosa. After 10 years of game time (12 hours) you will get married and have a child, named Tony the Hawk. Of course, at this point you become Tony and then have to watch your parents, Bellisimo and Rosa get run down by a transport truck. After you bury them, you find a skateboard hidden behind a gravestone and the skateboarding aspect of the game starts. At first Tony is unsure of his movements, but finding skateboarding videotapes scattered throughout Kronusvilla increases his abilities. Without spoiling the plot, Tony eventually leaves Kronusvilla for Port Gothtown, a city that will smuggle orphaned teens to other areas of the universe. Luckily everything in the cities have curved surfaces so Tony can bust some fat air while tracking down the murderer of his grandparents (Bellisimo's parents remember?) Throughout the quest you'll meet other skateboarders who will challenge you to tricks contests. These are the "random battles" that you would find in a regular RPG. Beating the opponents earns hit points and skate points. You can also earn Trick Materia that will help you do magical skateboarding stunts. You will meet so many people on your quest that the only game I can compare this to is Sega's Shen Mue. You'll even meet other skaters from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater on your quest, as well as have a run ins with Officer Dick, Private Carerra, Bob Burnquist, Chad Muska, Squall, Vincent Valentine, Sephiroth, Cloud, Barret, Tifa, Aeris and an entirely new cast of characters, the strangest being Engledink Humperbert, a cheesy lounge singer on the planet Swanbali.

The innovative gameplay is out of this world! After many hours of game time, if you save ALL (do not use ANY) Trick Materia, you will find a metallic-colored Chocobo that has been run over by another transport truck. If you give all of the Trick Materia to it, before it gasps three times, you will save it's life and it will become possible to ride. If you have discovered the brass bearings, and you can get the Chocobo to eat them, it will turn into a freakin' hoverboard that you can fly in the air with, like the Silver Surfer! You will be able to reach all sorts of hidden areas in the game with that board, not to mention pull off some mean tricks. There is so much to do in this game, that you'll have to play through it two or three times before you see half of it. Because the game is so open ended, you may reach the end without ever finding the murderer of your grandparents. Play again and look harder for clues! The first time I played the game I had no idea that on one planet, Tony has to enter a snowboarding competition!

Like FF8, this game has a side quest which is a collecting game, but with a very cool twist. If you find the coupons within the game (I have found 76 at last count and there are rumored to be close to 350) you can save them to a memory card, and using a device like a Dex Drive, you'll be able to put your saves on to computer. From there you can copy the saves into .jpeg format and using a picture viewing program you can print them out in full color, which you will be able to then trade with your friends. Whoever finds all 350 first will have to put them all together (they form a huge picture) and read the instructions. If followed correctly, a prize that I'm told is out of this world, will be yours! Are your "cool" detectors screaming yet? Unfortunately for me and fortunately for you, the coupon contest isn't open to reviewers, as we usually receive games a month or two in advance.

Graphically this game is on par not only with Tony Hawk and Final Fantasy 8 but also with Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. It is a testament to the talent at Sloof Lirpa. The animation and special effects are dynamite! Wait until you see what that Trick Materia can do! Not only are the people and fx cool but the cities are huge! Some cities are reputed to be 30 square miles in size (Kronusvilla) and some when you get off the planet are two or three times as big. I explored one city for awhile and ended up getting a job in a factory to earn money to buy skateboarding clothes and equipment. I'm telling you this game is very well thought out!

Pulling off tricks is tough at first, and a lot harder than Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. I felt the control was a combination between Tony, FF8, Thrasher: Skate and Destroy, Pong and the Addam's Family pinball machine (if you play it you'll see what I mean). It's not bad, but just don't expect to get up and running as fast as you did playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. I was surprised that the L3 and R3 buttons (pushing the analog controls in, like buttons are the L3 and R3 controls) were used as much as they were, but they were definitely needed later in the game.

Musically this game is so eclectic it hurts! For the first 16 hours of game time or so (it will be different for everybody) the music is very atmospheric and orchestral. Once Tony starts zipping around though, you'll be jamming to Offspring, Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys and more! In one of the towns (you'll have to discover where) there is a jukebox where you can switch the game disk and put in your own CD's while exploring the city.

It's no mystery that I'm not a huge fan of RPG's, but this isn't your average RPG; it's almost a way of life. Could this be the best game of 2000 (and it's only February)? My vote is in. Call, write, scream, e-mail, do whatever it is necessary to pre-order this game for April, Day One. You won't be disappointed, I'm pretty sure of that!






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