Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review #394: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

 Doing everything it can, pretending it's a superman.
 This is it. The game that started it all, the franchise, the phenomenon, the legend. Sadly, it hasn't aged very well, although it'd be more fair to say that subsequent games left it biting the dust. Welcome to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1.

 The game offers the standard selection of modes that future games in the franchise would have: Career, Single Session, Multiplayer and Free Skate. Career has you going through 9 stages, 3 of them being point-based competitions, fulfilling goals. The remaining six stages have 5 goals each: Two point-based scores you have to reach, collecting all SKATE letters, finding the hidden tape and destroying 5 of a certain item, all while under a 2 minute limit. Luckily, you don't have to complete every goal in one sessions. Formulaic? Very much so, but considering it was the first game, it's not altogether bad, plus, stages are different enough as not to make the goals feel as repetitive as they should.
 One of the game's biggest oversights is the Challenge list, as you can only review them by restarting a stage. The point-based challenges can get rather tough, as the point deduction penalty for repeating tricks is rather harsh, so if you want to 100% the game you better learn where the gaps are to maximize point gains. Increasing your stats also works a bit weirdly, as they increase as you fulfill goals, which is rather odd. Regardless, beating the game should take you between 20 minutes to an hour or so, depending on how quickly you learn the ins and outs of the game, as well as where everything is hidden. There's a small amount of unlockables to keep you invested, but not nearly as many as future games.

 Then we have Free Skate, which basically lets you skate around any level without time limits. Single Session is a timed round in which you must make as many points as you can on any stage of your choosing. Lastly, the 2 player modes contains the most basic of multiplayer modes, like Horse and Tag, but also the most memorable and you'll be seeing them again in every subsequent game.
 As far as gameplay goes, it covers only the bare essentials. X is used to ollie, and can be held for speed and a higher ollie, Square is tied to flips and Circle is tied to grabs, while triangle is used to grind. There're no manuals, no transfers, no reverts... it's only the basics. Heck, you must use your eyes to gauge how well balanced you are during a grind, as there's no balance meter! While I'm sure that at the time of its release this game was the bees knees, I can't help but feel limited since future games would add so many mechanics on top of these to make the games so much more fun and inventive.

 There're a few levels in this game that are downright fantastic, but there're a few like Downhill Jam and the mall that are kinda bad. Luckily almost every level in this game made it into future games, so this is not the only way to play them, and later down the line they even 'fixed' Downhull Jam and the Mall by respawning you back at the top once you reach the bottom. There were a few technical flaws as well, this one time I somehow went through a ramp, lying on the Mall's top floor and made it to ground floor through the terrain, which was odd, and the camera will obstruct your view every now and then since it will veer a bit too much to one side.
 The truth is, at this point in time, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 lives on as a curiosity. A game to play only if you are interested in seeing how Tony Hawk began, as anything this game can offer, other games do ten times as good. Tony Hawk 1 is not a victim of time, as if the game was contained in a vacuum it could be considered pretty good, but a victim of itself, a victim of the very games it would spawn and be surpassed by.
 4.0 out of 10

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