Skateboarding video game with the world’s most famous skateboarder… or actually the only one known to most. Tony Hawk Pro Skater, or as it is called in my case – Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding (stupid reason behind rename at the end) is one of those cases where I have played sequels before the original. The second game improved a lot upon the original, which makes me feel like the game is lacking content, but I can’t really call it a regres, because it was actually the first. I can skip this, but there are some aspects of the Dreamcast’s version I simply cannot overlook.
In Tony Hawk Pro Skater we take control over one of the selected skaters available. There are Tony Hawk… and other unmemorable guys you’ve probably never heard of. Everyone has the same campaign, but they are played separately. The only difference are unlockable skins for your boards. You progres by fulfilling tasks. Each map has two for scores, one for finding a hidden tape, and final two are map specific. First map is very basic, shows you how those tasks work and lets you familiarize with controls. It feels like a “free4u” tutorial. Once you proceed, you will encounter much bigger and more interesting map, which is a school. There you have a lot of space to skate and it contains even a hidden area. After several sessions on this map, it simply doesn’t get boring. Aside from free roam maps you will also play on downhill maps, which are long and do have its ending, and competition maps, which are small, but full of ramps and rails, where you have to score the most three times in a row.
The campaign is certainly interesting and diverse, making the game replayable. Trick system alone is very satisfying, although it doesn’t coops with Dreamcast controller too well. If press left or right on the D-pad to hard you may perform accidentally a harder trick, which is done by pressing diagonal direction. Playstation controller does much better job here. Besides that, controls are very responsive and allows you to do impressive combos if you are skilled enough to do them, because doing tricks without a fall isn’t that easy. A fun fact is that there is no command list within the game. The only way to know how to perform your tricks is through the manual. Manual also describes special tricks combinations, which you can do by fulfilling a special bar by performing stunts without a fail.
If you don’t like two minutes limit on each map in carer mode you can play a freely in a separate mode, but you won’t earn anything there. You better complete the story mode at least once to unlock every map in the game. I wouldn’t say there are a lot of areas, but I do not complain about those 9 available. They are enough to keep you entertained alone, but they may not be enough for split screen mode.
Yes, the split scree mode is more fun in this game than you’d think. You compete with your friend for the highest score within two minutes. There are also a tag paint mode (the best trick on the obstacle) and single trick mode (you have only one combo for the score) but these aren’t as much fun as free roam mode is. Once you start you will notice one major downgrade in this mode. Most of those big maps are cut in half for some reason during two players game. However, this doesn’t take the fun out of the game, especially when you make your friend fall down. That’s actually the only interaction the two skaters can have.
So the downgraded maps in split screen mode are disappointing, especially considering graphics. These look poor, just like they were taken from Playstation and improved resolution only and it is a Dreamcast we are talking about here. For me, it is just a lazy port from PSX when it comes to graphics. The only improvements I can notice are stable 60fps and much better drawing distance. This makes playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater smooth and pleasant, however, I wish character’s models were improved as well since they look bad.
Music is a fine selection of licensed punk rock tracks in number of… 11 or 14 depending on the version (EU has more). This number of tracks is way too few, because those songs can get repetitive pretty quickly. If you use restart function often you will beg them to stop soon.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater is still a great game, however, I do not see many reason for playing it over THPS2 or 3 expect for a really low price. There are no manuals to perform, the game is less crazy than sequels, there are less character’s animations and less tasks to do on every map. If you have a Dreamcast you can buy this game for dirt cheap, however, buy the second part if you can. If you have other console you can buy the other ones easily. Second and third sequels are better in every way. First Tony Hawk Pro Skater is fun but it feels like a raw version of what the series is going to be if you played further games first.
As for that rename… Activision took British people for idiots and renamed the game for Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding, because they were afraid of people confusing “Pro Skater” part for ice skating. Yea, its a dumb reasoning, especially when you CAN SEE A SKATEBOARD on the box.