- Reviewed Platform: Sega Dreamcast
- Available Platforms: Playstation, N64, Sega Dreamcast, GBC, N-gage
- Release Date: 1999/2000
There have been very few games that have taken the gaming world by storm, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was one of them. THPS set the bar for the extreme sports genre with it’s innovative and addicting gameplay, and would continue to do so for over a decade. It also gave skateboarders the chance to do a 360 backflip off the roof of a school without breaking every bone in their body. For the most part when a game is released that is this innovative, there are bound to be some rough patches and blemishes for it to improve on. Was this the case for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater? Or was this a masterpiece on it’s first attempt?
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater takes 10 of the world’s greatest skateboarders and let’s you shred around 9 different real world environments. You are given a 2 minute run to complete as many of the 5 tape challenges you can for each level. These tape challenges consist of 2 high score challenges, collecting S-K-A-T-E, destroying 5 specific objects, and of course finding the secret tape. These runs can be completed as many times as possible, but with much practice you’ll be able to get most of the challenges done in a single run. To break up the action of collecting tapes there are 3 skate competitions to take part in. You have 3 runs, each being 1 minute long, to rack up the highest score possible without bailing. Your score is then tallied out of 100 and you are ranked alongside the other 9 skaters. The best 2 out of your 3 runs count, and you must get into the top 3. As you complete competitions and collect tapes you will unlock a variety of decks which are based on real life designs from each skater. Once you complete career mode with each character, you will unlock highlight videos that feature all of their signature tricks.
THPS features revolutionary gameplay as you control your skater grinding on rails, catching air on ramps and halfpipes for grabs and flip tricks, all while trying to get the highest score possible. The more tricks you can chain together in a single movement, the higher your point multiplier becomes. When a decent amount of tricks have been landed in a row, you will build up enough of your special bar to be able to do your skater’s signature move. Vert skaters like Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, and Bucky Lasek have mainly signature grab tricks such as the 900, the fingerflip airwalk, and the kickflip mctwist. Street skaters like Elissa Steamer, Geoff Rowley, and Kareem Campbell, have mainly grind tricks such as the primo grind, the darkslide, and the casper slide.
When it comes to multiplayer, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is as competitive as it gets. There are 3 different multiplayer game modes to choose from: Trick Attack, Graffiti, and HORSE. Trick Attack mode is the classic split screen mode where you and your buddy go head-to-head for a 2 minute run, battling to get the most points. If you like to play dirty you can also plow into your opponent and plaster him to the concrete. Graffiti mode is somewhat similar, except when you complete a trick you “tag” the section of the level that the trick was completed on. Your opponent has to either complete a higher scoring trick on that section or simply just tag more sections than you. The last game mode is probably the most addicting and competitive. HORSE mode sends you to certain spots across the levels, where you and your opponent take turns trying the get the highest scoring single trick. The loser from each spot receives a letter, and if you complete the word HORSE, you’re the loser.
The controls for the Dreamcast port of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater are pretty solid, although they aren’t as polished as the original Playstation version. The skater is controlled using D-pad, and for the most part you’ll need to hold the A button and release it when anticipating a ramp or to ollie onto a rail. When in the air, flip tricks can be performed using the X button, grab tricks with the B button, grinds and slides with the Y button, and spins with the triggers. Once you master the basics you can experiment with holding different directional buttons while performing a grab, flip, or grind to do different tricks and increase your score. The only negative about the controls is the difficulty of turning slowly or while stopped to line up your skater to a ramp or rail.
The Dreamcast version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater isn’t the most impressive game graphically when you play it now, but at the time the graphics were above average. The character models aren’t really recognizable, but the environments are pretty well done. One of the downsides to THPS is the soundtrack. There is one track that always comes to mind when you think Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and there are some decent punk rock and ska songs, but the small selection can get extremely repetitive over the countless amounts of runs you’ll endure over the course of your time with the game.
Not only was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater a solid game, but it inspired a wave of sequels, spinoffs, and opportunities for other extreme sports to enter the gaming world. Athletes like Dave Mirra and Kelly Slater would go on to get their own franchises, but they never matched the success of Tony Hawk’s. The pinnacle of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, but there’s always something special about revisiting the original. So if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to check out a classic sports game, you can’t go wrong with any of the versions of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.