Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD review (XBLA)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD was developed by Robomodo and published by Activision. It was released on July 18, 2012 for 1200 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
The Tony Hawk games–everyone’s played at least one, and most have people have 1-2 favorites from the series. Their success paved the way for extreme sports games like the SSX and Skate series, and their soundtracks helped to bring the slightly obscure Punk Rock genre into the mainstream. Over the years the games have continued to try to expand and build on each preceding title. Pro Skater 2 brought the create-a-skater feature, Pro Skater 3 brought Tony and company to a new generation of consoles. Underground brought off-the-board gameplay and a story. Ride attempted to bring players even closer to skating realism with a skateboard controller. For better or worse, each new feature attempted to keep the series fresh and enjoyable.
But Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a trip back to the series’ roots. It puts a controller back in players’ hands. It strips out the story mode. You can’t get off the board. It’s just vanilla Pro Skater, and while some may prefer more flavorful ice cream, vanilla is the perfect flavor for Tony’s games.
Here’s what we liked:
That familiar feeling – Check the comments of any gameplay videos from Pro Skater HD and you’ll find that person who tries to critique the game. They say it’s too fast, too slow, that the jumps are too high, not high enough, that Tony’s nose is too big, and 100 other things. Well brother, we’re telling you right now that they’re dead wrong in every respect. Pro Skater HD is totally and completely true to the original two games. From control schemes to level design, everything about the game oozes attention to detail and a labor of love. Clearly Robomodo, Activision and even Hawk himself are trying to give the fans what they want, and they succeed in a big way.
Level select – Warehouse, School 2, Mall, Hangar and more–clearly if we couldn’t have every level from the first two games then the team behind Pro Skater HD understood that the fan favorites have to make it in, and they have, literally. The official Facebook page for the game held a poll to find out which levels the players really wanted in the game. Aside from Downhill Jam, which Tony requested be in the game, every level is the result of consumer input. It’s nice to see that kind of dedication to fans. And as for the levels themselves, they’re amazing. Like the entirety of Beyond Good and Evil HD, they’re not some HD-Star Wars-with-extras-you-didn’t-ask-for remake, they’re pixel-perfect upgrades. Every jump, every grind, every gap looks and feels just right.
Soundtrack – In the days following Pro Skater HD‘s announcement fans demanded the original soundtrack to the game(s) be brought back. While bands like Goldfinger, Powerman 5000 and Public Enemy return, the final soundtrack is a mix of both old and new. Seven songs come from Pro Skater 1 and 2, seven are completely new to the series. Each fits the game well, and none overpower the sound effects. You definitely won’t find yourself muting the music out of annoyance, in fact you may find yourself hitting up iTunes to pick a few new songs up.
The pros – It’s a given that Tony and a few of his friends will be a major part of any Pro Skater game. But aside from a few staples like Hawk, Eric Koston and Rodney Mullen the roster has always varied slightly between games. It’s more of the same here as Chris Cole is introduced to the series, having previously been featured in Skate. You’ll find a nice, if not small, selection of bonus characters too. Officer Dick, THPS1 Tony and Robmomodo’s sleek mascot Roberta all make the cut. We just wish we could play as Darth Maul. Maybe in the Pro Skater 3 DLC?
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Glaring multiplayer omissions – Let’s be clear here. The new modes and online gameplay are a wonderful and much-needed addition to Tony’s first Xbox Live Arcade installment. Here’s the problem: not only is H.O.R.S.E. mode missing, but there’s no splitscreen gameplay. It’s completely and utterly flabbergasting as to why they’re excluded from the game. For so long both of these modes were the staples of the series, and certainly in the classic games. Why then if these meant so much to players were they ignored? Yes, every game has a development budget, but these two should have been some of the first things written on a whiteboard during the initial planning of the game.
Where’s MY skater? – The other major omission is the lack of the create-a-skater feature. Since Pro Skater 2 came out in September 2000 every player chose to play through the game as their own personal avatar. It wasn’t until you went to a friend’s house and forgot your memory card that you actually took time to play as one of the included skaters. Sure, we love Tony and his gang of skating misfits, but we want our soda hat wearing, backpack lugging skater back.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD may have some issues in relation to missing features, but setting those aside it’s an absolute masterpiece. Robomodo, Tony and Activision have absolutely outdone themselves this time. They seem to understand that a smaller, digital, lower priced Pro Skater is more desirable than dropping retail money on a mediocre game with more content. We’ll gladly take this HD remake of two classic games for a fraction of the price. We hope that the team behind the game are smart enough to patch in splitscreen support some time in the future, but even then this is one game that you absolutely cannot pass up. So take some time away from mining for Gold Ingot and more strapping on your Converse and jumping on a skateboard. You’ll thank us later.
Score: Buy It