Game Overkill

Game Overkill – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

So if any of you have been reading these “reviews” and felt like they sometimes go a little long, you’re in luck! Austin Clark has provided the perfect TL;DR review for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater:

Why do I love THPS 2? Spider-Man on a skateboard. Need I say more? NEED. I. SAY. MORE!?

Why do I love THPS 2? Spider-Man on a skateboard. Need I say more? NEED. I. SAY. MORE!? – Austin Clark, 2014

That’s what he had to say when I asked him, and everyone else, why he listed the game. As great as his comments were, I think I’ll still provide my own more detailed thoughts on a game I’ve also grown to love.

I’ll start off by pointing out that I didn’t even own THPS 2 until a couple years ago, and even worse, back when I was in high school and throughout my first few years in university, I hated the series. I had a group of friends who had a party every day, and by party, I mean a bunch of them, usually about 20, went to one friend’s house, and they smoked pot and played THPS. EVERY DAY. FOR YEARS. That’s all they did. Smoke up and play THPS.

I hated those games because they were always so stoned yet so good at them and they never wanted to do anything else. They kept playing HORSE, and since the winner kept playing and you had about 20 people wanting to play, it meant I had no chance to play more than 3 minutes every hour, so I never got to improve. I never owned a PS1 (until very recently), and while I had a PS2, my hate for the series was too strong. I just associated it with a lame waste of time that was entertaining only to my permanently baked friends and people like them.

At around the time my first kid was born, I was looking for something stupid, fun, and easy to play that I could pick up for 15 minutes and pause whenever needed. I was playing Demon’s Souls and loving it at the time, but my kid sucked at sleep, usually waking up every hour and often needing half an hour to fall asleep again. I quickly grew tired of Demon’s Souls infuriating lack of a pause feature (and I didn’t play it online because I hate online gaming, so it really was stupid that you couldn’t pause), so I found THPS 4 for about $5. I loved it. I played the crap out of it. The game is amazing. I decided to buy other Tony Hawk games as well. I got THPS 1, 2, and Underground 2. THPS 1 was too.. .crappy… after starting with 4, but 2 has aged well enough for me to bother playing it.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - 360 Switch Benihana

As much as I’ll admit to liking THPS 2 and can say positive things about it, it still pales in comparison to the 4th in game in the series, and since I didn’t really play it when it came out, I lack to ability to judge it based on how it compared to other skating games at the time (I’ve never played any of them) or what innovations it brought to the genre. Luckily, some of the people who listed the game let me know why they listed it and have done all that for me. First up, everyone’s favourite French Canadian pretending to be a cat:

I don’t know much about skateboarding, but what I learned, I learned in Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Ok, to be honest, I learned in Coolboarders 2 on the Playstation and tried to port the knowledge. I did play Tony Hawk as a youngster and, while skateboards were still a cool thing to want to do as a teen, there’s no denying that this game is more than other cool extreme sports games. There’s a reason why this is on here. In fact, there’s a ton of reasons. The lincensed soundtrack that clearly resonates with the target audience, but the game was probably good enough to earn these bands a few extra fans. Sure, there’s the over the top moves and crazy characters to unlock, but it’s all based on a solid, SOLID, foundation. The controls are responsive and, even if you know nothing about skateboarding, the stages are built to guide you through. I’d even go as far as to say they’re almost built like Sonic stages. You know where to go next every time. At the same time, the unlockables and collectibles allow you to explore and really give some replay value to this classic. In the world of extreme sports games, this one will always be a head above the rest in my opinion.

Jonathan Hallée, a.k.a. BigJonathan91

A few people mention this game’s soundtrack as a highlight, while I personally think it’s the worst of the four Pro Skater games. Yes, it has Anthrax (with Public Enemy), Millencolin, Swingin’ Utters, Bad Religion, and Lagwagon, but it also has Powerman 5000, a Rage Against the Machine track not from one of their two good albums, Papa Roach, and a bunch of other crap I don’t remember. I’m not complaining about the number of tracks, but the ratio of good to bad songs. While a game like THPS 4 isn’t immune to having terrible songs (it has ACDC, Flogging Molly, The Distillers, and a few lame rap tunes), with songs by Agent Orange, Avail, The Bouncing Souls, The Offspring (from one of their four good albums), Jody Foster’s Army, Iron Maiden, and Rocket from the Crypt, plus a bunch of rap that isn’t terrible, you quickly forget about the few bad songs. With THPS 2, I am constantly pausing the game to change skip the terrible music because I hate 66% of the soundtrack. With THPS 4, I l isten to the songs I hate because it they only make up something like 5% of the soundtrack. Seriously, even THPS 1 had better music than 2.

Quick, someone say something I liked about the game before it starts to look like I hated it. Maybe Brian Steedman (@CrazyToledo) can help:

When it comes to the Tony Hawk games the reality is they’re probably one of my favorite video game series of all time. Not only are the games extremely enjoyable, they’re also the reason I got into skateboarding. Besides sparking my interest in skating, the soundtrack for THPS 2 is one of the best video game soundtracks ever and has had a huge influence on my musical tastes. One of the main reasons why I felt like THPS 2 should be included on the list is the series, especially THPS 2, turned a generation of kids and teens onto skating and introduced them to new music they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise (I know this holds true for myself and a good number of friends). Oh, and the game itself is extremely addicting and one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played. The second Pro Skater basically took everything from the first game and improved it, while also introducing countless features we’d all come to love (manuals, cash, create-a-skater, create-a-park). Growing up there were probably way too many days and nights spent just skating around and discovering new lines to skate on all of the levels. While I think the best game in the series would be the fourth Pro Skater, this one was by far the most influential and put the series and the sport on the map.

Well, the first half of that didn’t help, but the second half did. I guess I didn’t play the first game long enough to notice that you couldn’t do manuals. When I think of THPS, I think of using manuals to string a crazy series of tricks. The cash collection stuff, I never cared for. As for being able to create a park, too tedious and time consuming…uh, I assume. I never tried it. Finally, creating a player never interested me because the game already has the best possible skater ever. With me on this one is my GMZ partner, Daniel Lamplugh (@thedancingpanda)

The Tony Hawk series is among my favorite series in all of video game-dom. Easily in the top 10. THPS2 wasn’t my first Tony Hawk game, nor was it particularly the one I have the most memories of. In fact, I only bought it two years ago. Before then, I had only played it a time or two. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 did introduce something that would become a staple for all the series to come: the Manual. The two wheeled roll added a new dimension to the scores. Suddenly, you could chain combos for higher scores, and keep your combo while transferring levels. Not to brag, but I am amazing at THPS2, and I can rack up almost unheard of combos with just manuals and flip tricks.

And of course, who better to showcase the manual than the greatest skater of all time, Rodney Mullen. Mullen’s inclusion is imperative in measuring the greatness that this game contains. Mullen invented the majority of the tricks that skaters use today. Rodney’s inclusion in THPS2 signifies the growing importance of street and flat ground skating, against the vert focus of the first game.

Rodney fucking Mullen! If you’ve scoffed at Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for allowing players to make completely ridiculous moves, especially when it comes to using manuals to string combos, take a look at this:

That’s it. Reviews over. Rodney Mullen is in the game. 10/10. GOTI (Game of the Infinity).

But seriously, this game isn’t that special in a lot of way. No story. Bad graphics. Hit-or-miss soundtrack. Yet somehow, it’s is incredibly fun and even a little addicting. A great game to pop in for a quick 15 minute gaming session or a multi-hour grind-fest without the tedium of the grinding most gamers are used to. There is so much stuff to unlock, so many skaters to play with, secrets to find, gaps to clear, things to collect, and just plain fun to be had that you almost never even noticed that you’ve essentially been playing a sports game all along. I personally may have preferred THPS 4, but since it didn’t make the list (nor did any other Tony Hawk game), I am very pleased that not only did THPS 2 make the cut, it ended up taking 91st place. If you’ve never played one of these games, this one is a good place to start. You won’t regret picking it up, unless you don’t enjoy fun.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - NeverSoft

So what’s your favourite Tony Hawk game? I’ve heard the Underground games are pretty good, but I’ve heard nothing but bad things about the subsequent games. I’d love for someone to make one of these for modern consoles, without the silly skateboard peripheral nonsense. Just a traditional Pro Skater game, but with better graphics, maybe the ability to download and play user-created parks, online multiplayer for the people who enjoy that shit, an expanded soundtrack, etc. I’d buy it.

Anyway, the next review will be for Shining Force, for which I’ve only just started my playthrough. After that, I’ll be playing a game I mentioned in this very post: Wild Arms. This time, I’ll be playing more than 15 minutes at a friend’s house.