Remember a game that absolutely changed the way you looked at video games? A game that kept you playing throughout the night, only to wake up the next morning and spend even more time wasting your hours away? Usually this is reserved for a Final Fantasy or Madden, but since I’m not super into those games and always wanted to be a skateboarder as a kid, my vice was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater that was released on August 31st, 1999. I was a freshman in college and this game came out just one week after I got to school; and it changed my life.
Before Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater there were no skateboarding games, except Sk8 or Die; which is amazing. But there was nothing for that subgenre of sports fans. My parents had tried to get me into basketball and baseball, but I could really care less. When I got my first skateboard, that’s when I really took to physical activities. I could go far and far and carry the board into public places, unlike my Huffy. THPS let me relive the joys of my youth, without all the scars and broken bones. Plus, the soundtrack was AMAZING. Being a huge punk/ska fan, it had so much good music. Goldfinger, Suicide Machines, and Suicidal Tendencies were just a few of the great names. Those songs echoed through my head as I walked to class, imagining each railing I saw as a new place to grind, each curb an opportunity to ollie over.
Tony Hawk and Acitivision continued their relationship through 10 more games; getting worse as times went on. I loved 1-THUG, but when American Wasteland came out, you could tell they were really grasping at straws. There was more incorporation of non-skateboard vehicles, and with most members of the Jackass crew, it was just a big commercial for Dickhouse Productions. The final nail in the coffin though, was the inclusion of the fake board in Tony Hawk: Ride and Shred in 2009 and 2010. It was a horribly made piece of plastic, that hardly worked with a horribly made game. I tried it out, I had to; as a long time THPS fan, I was severely betrayed. It was like Tony Hawk had lost the drive to care and was only out to make money. Maybe it was the fact that the Skate series were destroying them in sales and Shaun White had a skateboarding game of his own. Whatever the case, the series had come to a grinding halt.
Now, we are in 2012 and are introduced to Tony Hawk HD. It’s a mix of the best levels from THPS 1&2 and brings back the nostalgia of the original series. I quickly downloaded it on the Playstation Network for a mere $14.99. As I proceeded to put in hours tracking down S-K-A-T-E and DVD’s like the good ‘ol days, it occured to me that it will never be the same. They kept a lot of the same songs, the missions were the same, and the game looked a LITTLE better; but I mostly just purchased it because my PS1 and 2 games don’t work on my PS3. I loved the nostalgia, but didn’t like the after taste it left in my mouth.
I may never get the old Tony Hawk back, but I will always one of the best games I’ve ever played. I look back at the time I got a million points in the original game, and how I tirelessly worked to achieve that goal again. Or when I used Wolverine on a skateboard, and he went Wolvie Berzerk! Tony Hawk revolutionized the sport in a real life and the gaming world, and his series will always be one that I shall never forget.