“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” is a fun dose of nostalgia

By Glenn Battishill

Back in the day (2000) a preteen and less cool version of myself played “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” like an addict. My memories of “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” live in the same special nostalgia-filled place as playing “Pokémon”.

The Tony Hawk game series peaked at “Tony Hawk’s Project 8” then crashed and burned when you had to play the game with a fake plastic skateboard. After no one in the world enjoyed playing “Tony Hawk’s Ride” and it’s horrible sequel, Activision finally wised up and put the franchise on hold.

Now, two years later, the franchise rises from the dead with “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD,” an HD remake of the first two, and arguably best, games in the franchise.

For those of you too cool to play the coolest game of the early 2000s the “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” series is a game where you skate around various areas with a set of objectives and a time limit. You get points by doing tricks or finding secret items. The controls were easy enough to learn but impossible to master.

As soon as the loading screen comes up and those old familiar punk songs start jamming you instantly flashback to a time when VCRs were cutting edge and that by itself is an accomplishment.

Then you load up the first level (of this game and the original THPS) and the fun skyrockets.

The controls are exactly the same as they were a decade ago, which is a testament to how effective they were a decade ago. (On Xbox 360) “A” is the crouch and Ollie button, “X” is flip tricks, “B” is grab tricks and “Y” is grind. Tricks are still accomplished by combining buttons and directions together in one continuous run.

Successfully pulling off a combination of tricks and seeing the score rocket is still insanely satisfying.

Seeing your skater bail off the board and slam their head against a concrete wall is still insanely demoralizing.

The selections of maps are pulled from the first two games and are essentially cut and pasted with new HD textures, which I’m sure is all anyone wanted. The developers have promised maps from THPS 3 & 4 as download content to give the game some extra longevity.

The soundtrack is both a huge plus and a huge minus. If there is one thing every game in the series did, it was compiling an awesome soundtrack and this game kind of disappoints because it only has one song from the first game, although thankfully it’s the best. The rest of the sound track is half songs from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2” and half new songs which have their ups and downs.

The game’s single player campaign is well paced and thought out but the multiplayer is equal parts frustrating and disappointing.

Firstly, there is no split screen multiplayer, a staple of the franchise, and the online multiplayer is missing some of the best game modes, like “HORSE”, are absent. The online matchmaking is either lightning fast or deathly slow but once the game starts all is forgiven.

At the end of the day, “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” is a huge injection of nostalgia that reminds everyone why the series was so popular in the first place. However, the game’s lack of original maps and music tracks combined with the occasionally shoddy hit detection and unintuitive menu navigation can leave you a little frustrated.

The game is currently only available for Xbox Live Arcade, but will be available Aug. 28 on Playstation 3 and later this year on PC via Steam.