On Saturday, March 6, 2010, I hosted a Tony Hawk marathon at my place between the hours of 10 AM and 10 PM. What ensued was non-stop Tony Hawk action, beginning with the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for PlayStaion, all the way up to Tony Hawk’s Underground for the PlayStation 2.
The plan was to play all the way through the original Tony Hawk saga for PlayStation and PlayStation 2. We weren’t trying to get 100% in everything, so we would swap games after unlocking the customary bail video or pro video (soft ending). After 12 hours of gameplay, we made it about half way through Tony Hawk’s Underground (the part where you come back from Moscow and have to pull together your own team). It would have been awesome if we had made it all the way through to American Wasteland, but I’m not entirely sure that would have been possible in 12 hours, even if we had been fully prepared.
The first place we got stuck was on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. It had been quite awhile since I last played this game, so I didn’t remember little details like where the Venice Ledge was.
Then Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 turned out to be a big time sink. Even though we were able to proceed through the goals at a rapid pace, it took a long time to unlock the pro challenges because of the sheer number of goals.
Although it may have been possible to get to the end of Tony Hawk’s Underground, I’m not certain it would have been possible to get any further in 12 hours. If you were really prepared, I suppose you could cut off a significant amount of time in completing goals, but Tony Hawk 4 is where you would inevitably end up spending 3 to 5 hours.
I was also hoping to share the controller with more players, but unfortunately those present weren’t terribly familiar with any of the games, so I ended up finishing all the goals. We probably could have been more effective with players that still remembered bits from Tony Hawk 2 and 3.
However, it was still a really fun day, and that’s what it’s all about. I’m not sure that I would do it again, but I enjoyed this wacky experiment.
In closing, I’d like to share some of the thoughts I had regarding these games:
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
This is still a really fun game to play. I do prefer the graphics of the PlayStation 2 games, to be sure, but in other respects I prefer this game to the newer installments.
For one thing, this game was pretty edgy, perhaps edgier than many other Tony Hawk games.
Secondly, the gameplay is more realistic than Tony Hawk games that came out later. It was a lot harder to string together combos, and you had to be creative because you couldn’t use manuals or reverts.
Thirdly, the level design is really cool and we haven’t really seen anything like it since. I don’t think I would enjoy playing levels like the Mall or Downhill Jam all the time, but they were a nice change of pace.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
I don’t have much to say about this one except that it’s a classic. Manuals made it far easier to string together combos, and getting high scores, at least for me, became a walk in the park. The soundtrack was pretty cool too.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
This game is far smoother than I ever remembered it to be. Maybe it’s just me, but landing vert tricks felt way easier than other installments of Tony Hawk. Although the goals still tended to be “collect this” and “do that”, there was nevertheless some attempt at creating more variation.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
This is where the game started to change in a big way. Although there were still goals like “land a high score” and “collect the S-K-A-T-E letters”, the game introduced many new elements that made it considerably more interesting.
There were still a certain number of goals to be completed in each level, but each goal had to be completed on its own, and would only start if you initiated the people with arrows over their heads.
The soundtrack was a little more mainstream than the others, but picks like “TNT” kept you grinning.
Tony Hawk’s Underground
I may have given this game a bad rap before, but I forgot how good it was (I’m probably thinking of Underground 2 – that’s the one that kind of sucked). There were fewer goals that involved tedious collection of random items (though there were still some goals like that). Essentially you begin as a no-name in the skating world, and have to work your way up through the ranks, and this concept rang true for a game that broke the numbering system.
This game also incorporated storyline elements, and although it was quite linear, it was worth playing through at least once. Repeated play-throughs would likely have less value.