Tony Hawk has been skateboarding now for like 60 years and he is just recently getting his props with a whole slew of games and memorabilia carrying his name. And what's more is that all of it is great. Hoping to capitalize on that bandwagon are the people at Infogrames and Rebellion who have put together this little game based on the smash hit PSX version.
The irony is that even though Tony Hawk was never released on the NES in the days of skating popularity in the 80's, the new Gameboy version makes it seem like was. Due to the limited capability in the graphics department, Tony and all of his friends and rivals are depicted in retro NES glory. Playing it I was reminded of Skate or Die and 720 and I could almost hear Def Leppard and Twisted Sister on the radio.
The game involves two very different modes, the half-pipe and the street skating. In half-pipe mode you choose from a variety of pipes and go to town pulling off tricks and combos as quickly as possible. Time is a factor and bailing hurts as it takes precious seconds off of the clock. Though it was cool to watch the skaters perform aerial maneuvers, the tricks got old really quickly and there was no competition. I kept beating my own score, but that is only moderately satisfying. After all I looked pretty silly talking trash to myself.
The street level was much more rewarding, but it has its own set of problems. Basically you go downhill through a myriad or ramps and obstacles. You jump off the ramps to do tricks and grind on everything else. All this time you have to keep up your speed because you are racing against 3 other opponents. You are scored on time, tricks, and placement. Plus along the way you can grab tapes for bonus points. One added advantage is the turbo boost, which can be picked up and used to gain much needed speed.
The problems with the street mode do not outweigh the fun aspects but they do get in the way. One problem was the lack of depth perception. The game uses an overhead view so the characters should get bigger if they are grinding on something. However, they do not change size from the ground to the rails. They do get bigger when they jump, but no matter where they land they are always the same size. This can be especially frustrating at high speeds where the objects move past your character at an insane rate and you can never tell exactly where you are depth-wise.
Another problem is the trick pictures, which is meant to be an interesting feature but becomes more annoying than amusing. Every time you do a trick on the street course the screen flashes a picture of the trick you just did. The problem is that every racer has the same generic picture and you have to do tons of tricks to get points. This leads to having tons of the same pictures constantly coming up. It really adds a hindrance to the rapid flow that the game is supposed to have. It is cool the first time you see it but by the fourth course it really gets annoying.
Though Tony Hawk won't do for the Gameboy Color what it did for the Playstation, it is still a fun skateboarding game. Aside from the couple of minor problems that the game possesses, it plays really well. It is fast and requires great skill to succeed, but only a small amount to enjoy. Plus it is the kind of game that is easy to pick up and play for a little while. This is perfect for small trips here and there. Just don't expect it to be just like the PSX or Dreamcast version because it does not even come close. However, if Tony Hawk came out 13 years ago it might have looked a lot like this. So put yourself back in the 80's, go rent Rad, put on some Poison, and play a little Pro Skater on your Gameboy Color.
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