Saturday Morning Gaming: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (remastered)
I am not one of the “sports games” people. I mean, I appreciate the amount of craft that goes into making the next Madden or FIFA or The Show and I occasionally think “hey, I should play that”, it’s never enough to get me to actually shell out the cash to play it. There’s always something I’d rather play more and always something I’d rather spend the money on (which can include stuff like “groceries”).
I suppose Pro Wrestling games (which I do enjoy) exist in a grey area. Is Pro Wrestling a sport? Well… Okay, are Pro Wrestling games “sports games”? Well…
Anyway, back in 2001, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 came out and everybody gushed about it. First the video game magazines, and then the video game websites. Then people I knew! Like, people just wouldn’t shut up about the game. Even people that weren’t “sports games” kinda people talked about this game and how awesome it was. Okay, fine. I’ll check it out.
I quickly became one of the people that wouldn’t shut up about the game. Even if you weren’t someone inclined to ever get on a skateboard, this was a fun game. Even if you were someone who made jokes about how you always see kids in some parking lot trying to do a trick and they always, always, always, always fail and ask “has anyone ever successfully done a skateboarding trick?”, you’d say “holy cow, this is a fun game”.
Just taking your skater and mastering all kinds of tricks was fun. There were little mini missions like “collect the letters in SKATE” and you had to get them all in one combo to pass the mission. The main part of the game, however, was all about combos and extending combos and not crashing (a crash zeroed out everything you’d done in the moments before… so there was real cost-benefit analysis at work when you thought about going for it or just cashing in whatever points you’d already accumulated). “Oh, I almost got it!” is something that I said more times than I can count.
On top of that, the game had a soundtrack with fun punk, neopunk, rap, and rock tracks. Upbeat stuff, half of which appealed to old folks (Ramones, Rollins Band), the other half being new stuff that was hot (AFI, Pre-Smooth Criminal Alien Ant Farm) and it made a perfect companion to the vaguely antisocial stuff you were doing in the game.
It was just pretty much perfect, start to finish. It was a game that was so good and so polished that even people that didn’t really like sports games liked this one.
Tony Hawk 4 came out and refined the formula and then Underground came out and let you customize your own character. You want to play a bald, bearded, chubby guy who skated in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt? Well, you could spend an hour in the character creation screen and get a guy just like that. And the game now had a full-fledged story mode with a plot and everything! And since you were playing a custom character, they could have your character actually break the law in the game! (For some reason, they tried to avoid this sort of thing with licensed characters.) You were a guy trying to break into pro skating and you had the most evil rival in the world in Eric Sparrow. (Gosh, I HATED that guy.) It took the downright perfect game of Tony Hawk 3 and added a REASON to be making a jump over a flying helicopter.
Underground 2 was… let’s call it controversial. I hated the story in the story mode and so didn’t play it. Others tell me that if I liked the television show Jackass, I’d have a better understanding of what the game was going for.
After that the games more or less fell off my radar.
They’ve announced that they’re remastering Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and 2 (the two games that came out before I jumped onboard Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3) for the new generation and, HOLY COW. THIS LOOKS AMAZING.
I’ve already pre-ordered it. Even though I’m still not much of a sports game kinda guy.
So… what are you playing?
(Featured image is “Skate-Castelo” by zeibalsero . Used under creative commons license.)