|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Scott Nichols
In the early 2000s, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was the must-have game on PlayStation and N64. With crazy combos and tricks, a wide range of level of objectives, and a fantastic multiplayer, Tony Hawk became a household name as ubiquitous as Call of Duty is today. However, over the past few years the series has fallen from grace with a faceplant of epic proportions. A number of clumsy "innovations" were foisted upon the series, ranging from characters getting off their boards and walking around to a barely functional skateboard peripheral carrying a hefty price tag. But now Activision is wisely going back to its roots with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD.
When I say Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is going back to the series' roots, I mean that in a very literal sense. The game, which will be a "best of" collection from Tony Hawk 1 and 2, which originally released on PlayStaion and Nintendo 64 over a decade ago. Not all levels from the first two games will apparently make the cut, hence Activision calling it a "best of" rather than simply a recreation of those games. That being said, classic levels like the Warehouse, School, and Downhill Jam from the first game have been confirmed, recreated from the ground up with a new engine and an HD coat of paint.
Skeptical fans may point out that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is being developed by Robomodo, the same studio responsible for the recent Tony Hawk: Ride and Tony Hawk: Shred, both of which used the ill-fated skateboard controller. Worry not, because that unwieldy piece of plastic has no place in this series reboot. I would also add that the Chicago-based studio isn't entirely to blame for what are arguably the weakest games in the series. The developers were given the impossible task of building games around an accessory nobody wanted, and the games rightfully failed at retail. Now that Robomodo is working with the classic formula and using a proper controller again, they have a chance to refine what is already great rather than build something that is questionable to begin with. It's an opportunity for the studio to redeem itself, and it's one the studio isn't taking lightly.
Even though Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is based on the originals of the series, there is a surprisingly large amount still unknown about the game. First and foremost is the game's iconic soundtrack, which Activision's Dan Amrich mentioned may not include all of the classic tunes that fans remember. Music licensing deals for games are a one-shot affair, so Activision would have to draw up brand new licensing contracts no matter what music is in the game. Those bands that were obscure and underground in 1999 have become significantly more popular over the years, in no small part because of their songs featured in Tony Hawk games, and with popularity comes higher licensing rates. It is entirely possible that Activision could go easy on its budget while staying true to the spirit of the Tony Hawk franchise and license songs from newer underground bands, which carry with them a smaller price tag. Nothing is set in stone at this point, but while the levels will all be familiar, the same guarantee doesn't necessarily apply to the game's soundtrack.
Also unknown at this point is the skater roster. So far Tony Hawk and his son Riley Hawk have been confirmed, as well as Eric Koston, Rodney Mullen, Andrew Reynolds, Chris Cole, Nyjah Huston, and Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana. In addition to the pros, the Tony Hawk series was equally well known for its hidden characters. And with a new Spider-Man movie and Activision-published tie-in game coming this summer, a return of the webslinger may just be in the cards for the HD reboot.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD may be the reboot the skateboarding series needs to become a major player once again. Veteran gamers will get a nostalgic trip back to the king of extreme sports gaming, while younger gamers will finally get to see why anyone ever cared about the series in the first place. It may not be something new, but sometimes you just can't beat the classics. Look for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD on Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network this summer.
CCC Contributing Writer