The Summer of Arcade is upon us, for those of us that have an Xbox 360 that is. The first game released as part of this yearly summer spectacular is a remake of a classic title from way back in 1999. That game is Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD. If you ask new or younger gamers today about Tony Hawk Pro Skater, most will have no recollection of it. The only exposure most of them have to a Tony Hawk game was the much-maligned Tony Hawk: Ride and Tony Hawk: Shred. Which brings us to the question of the hour, does the HD remake of Tony Hawk Pro Skater bring back the fun and joy of first couple games in the series?
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD features a mix of classic maps from both THPS 1 & 2, seven in total, including fan favorites such as Marseille and Downhill Jam. The classic Tony Hawk Pro Skater physics from the second game are in the HD remake as well. That doesn’t mean getting those massive combos by using manuals and kickflips is as easy as it was back in the day, thanks to the Xbox 360’s lackluster D-Pad. Speaking of disappointments, one major, super important feature, a tutorial, was left out of the game. Maybe this was on purpose, but with a huge part of the current gaming community new to this game, it’s a big oversight.
Visually the game is very pleasing to the eyes, especially when compared to the old version. Marseille looks amazing now, as well as most of the other levels in comparison to their original counterparts. One point of contention is the Venice Beach level, which due to sun placement is very orange looking. This makes the level decidedly different graphically when compared to the original, and not in a good way. Character designs are also well done with classic skaters like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen looking quite spiffy even in their later years. Along with the classical skaters, there is also new skaters, including Tony Hawks son, Riley Hawk.
Anyone that ever played the original THPS knows that the music was half the reason for playing the game, and I am happy to state that remains the same with the new version. Seven of the fourteen tracks in THPSHD come from THPS 1 or 2, while the other seven are new. Favorites such as Bring the Noise and Superman make their return to the game, while new hits such as Flyentology and The Bomb are sure to be favorites among the next generation. The sound effects are also very nicely done, with all the skateboarding sounds accurately reproduced. The only annoying issue that I ran into with the effects was the grunt as my guy wiped out, probably because I wiped out a lot.
In the career mode, goals and gameplay remain the same as they were in the original games. The only slight change is that instead of finding the hidden tape, you now have a find the hidden DVD goal. I guess to find the hidden digital download wouldn’t work. You still must complete 4-6 goals per map to unlock the next one, which can be irritating. I was stuck on the Mall map for too long. One nice new gameplay feature is the Big Head mode where you must complete tricks to keep your head from growing bigger and bigger. If your head gets too big, it bursts like a piñata, so its best to hit quick high scoring tricks instead of going for long combo tricks. Another new feature is the online multiplayer matches, which lets you play your friends on a level of your choice anytime you want.