I remember the chaos that followed my purchase of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater almost a year ago. It started out as an innocent review. Naturally, things got out of hand. I became dejected, despondent. I never answered the phone, I never talked to my roommates, I failed three midterms, and my body odor became repugnant. Long nights and irksome days made up my life that revolved around my newfound lord and savior: Tony Hawk.
Needless to say, a few rounds of Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style fixed my insatiable cravings for unending interactive entertainment. Months later, I thought the scars had healed. Games went by and by. Then as E3 rolled around, screenshots of a new and graphically enhanced Tony Hawk on the Dreamcast began to surface. As any recovering THPS junkie would do, I shut myself off from the world of gaming. I began to read and write. All memories and lusting thoughts of Tony Hawk were slowly being pushed away until that fateful day.
My fellow reviewer and arch-nemesis, Greg, plopped a beta version of the game on my lap (note: I was aiming for his head, and missed- Greg) after returning from a weekend of debauchery at E3. With a smile, he left me there, my eyes bloodshot, my mouth dry and my fingers twitching as if all of those months of rehabilitation had meant nothing. Soon, I was hooked again. Even though only one level was skateable, I found myself drawn back into that forebodingly addictive world.
For those gutter dwellers (or what we call RPG gamers), an explanation is due. Tony Hawk is a skateboarding game that defied what a skateboarding game is supposed to be. Instead of being some lame-ass racing game like ESPN X-treme, THPS is an arcade-like (I say that because itís fairly easy to pick up and play) skateboarding simulator. When I say simulator, I mean that itís based around tricks and combo development rather than high-speed turns and banks. Due to this new concept, a great graphics engine and intuitive controls, THPS pulled ahead in the race for videogame supremacy.
Naturally, the game looks fantastic on the Dreamcast. The game runs at acceptably fluid 30 frames per second, the character models have been nicely fleshed out, and the gargantuan environments all have that nice, shiny and polished Dreamcast look to them. And because that fogging effect that weíve all grown to love on the N64 has been pushed far and away, the levels look much larger than before. Youíll never truly appreciate the Birdmanís power until youíve seen on the Dreamcast.
Why, God, why? The soundtrack is exactly the same. I can still stand two of the songs (Primus-Jerry was a Racecar Driver, Dead Kennedys- Police Truck), but the rest of the tracks just make me want to tear the crappy-ass monotone speakers from my television. I was hoping that the coders in charge of porting it over would have the foresight to see that the soundtrack needed some goddamn updating. Luckily, I just turned off the music and put on my Boy Sets Fire CD and everything was okay.
The soundtrack, however, is my only complaint. The game is work of brilliance in design. No game before (and no game after it for that matter) has captured the energy that embodies the sport itself as accurately as Tony Hawk has. While it took me some time to make the transition from the comfortable PSX pad to the occasionally questionable DC pad, I was soon busting out some ďmad phat maneuvers, kid.Ē (Dig my lingo! Dig it! Dig it!)
If you have a Dreamcast and you happen to like games in the least, youíve got no excuse for not adding this to your library. Thatís all you need to know.
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