NOTHING BEATS THE ORIGINAL TONY HAWK PRO SKATER
The rumors are percolating. The murmurs are rising. Is there going to be a new Tony Hawk Pro Skater game? Recently, it’s bubbled up again, as there are a couple of sources (of unknown reliability) stoking the flames. The last game, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5, came out in 2015. That’s the last edition of the most-beloved skating video games series ever. Soon, that may no longer be true. Maybe, just maybe, the next game in the series will be coming out in 2020. Personally, I say that you can keep your new Tony Hawk game. I’ll stick with a classic.
Like many skaters, OK probably every skater, who also plays video games I was into the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. It was a ton of fun, and a way to live quasi-vicariously through pixilated versions of iconic skaters. My dexterity on a board was marginal at best as a teenager, but I could hit the 900 with Tony Hawk in the video game. Not that I skated as Hawk too often. That was too trendy a choice, and I was an oh-so-rebellious teenager.
I have to admit now that I am an old-school gamer in general. I’ve never played a console more current than the first edition of the Xbox. These days, I don’t play anything newer than a Nintendo 64. Death to load times, I say. I like those old-school sounds and graphics. Given that, maybe this statement won’t be a surprise. Growing up, the Tony Hawk Pro Skater game that got the most play from me was Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 for the Nintendo Gamecube. Now, though, I only want to play the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
Specifically, I’m talking about the Nintendo 64 version. I grew up in a Nintendo family. All glory goes to that blue cartridge, a color choice that made it stick out in a world of bland gray. These days, Tony Hawk Pro Skater is my primary connection to the heavy skating time of my life. If you worship at the feet of photorealistic graphics and advancements in technology, you can scoff at me. Your scoffs will be drowned out by the soothing sounds of “Superman” by Goldfinger.
Yeah, it’s simple, but that’s not a bad thing. They were just showing what a skateboarding video game could be in many ways. It’s like an ex post facto proof of concept, but the concept was proven with flying colors. The gameplay was simple, but that’s what’s great about it. There are only so many tricks you can do, but I don’t need a ton of shit for my skating avatar to do. In the later games, you get trick overload. All I need is a few grab moves, a few flip moves, and a few grinds. Oh, and the specials, which were often tricky enough to pull off (especially if you didn’t look them up on the proto-internet) to keep you going.
Not that I didn’t use those codes and tricks, of course. I had to get all the levels to skate in, after all. And yet, do you know what the level I played the most was? The warehouse, the first level of the game. What can I say? It was small as hell, even by the standards of Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Who cares? It had a halfpipe! And a rail to grind! I would just drop into the pipe and pulls off all my tricks. For minutes at a time, whoever I was skating as (oftentimes Rune Glifberg because I liked doing the Christ Air move) would go back and forth in the pipe. In the original game, your run was soundtracked by a single song, which was chosen at random by the game. You would hear it over and over for your entire run. That’s how Goldfinger’s “Superman” and the Suicide Machines “New Girl” got burned into my brain. I don’t mind it.
The graphics are totally fine. In fact, I feel like they are kind of barely worse than in the later games. The levels are fun without being overly busy. That’s part of what I dig about old video games. They have a simplicity that works for them. Sure, sometimes I had to restart a free skate because the song that was playing was one I didn’t like. That’s about the only quibble I have with the game. Everything else made it as good, if not better, than the games that followed in the series. I will take Tony Hawk Pro Skater over all of them.
Call it nostalgia if you want. There may be some of that involved, sure. Mostly, though, I just feel like they never really improved on the original. Tony Hawk Pro Skater delivered me everything I wanted then, and it still does. You’d better believe I still have a Nintendo 64 that I play on occasion. Admittedly, Tony Hawk Pro Skater isn’t the first game I grab, because playing Super Mario 64 is just so soothing. I played it before any other sports game I have for the N64, though. It just holds up so well. They really nailed it on the first try.
I’m sure you skaters who have modernized your gaming setup are excited at the prospect of a new Tony Hawk Pro Skater. You’ve probably been waiting for five years at this point. Not me. Tony Hawk Pro Skater has been around since 1999. That’s over 20 years at this point. It gives me all I want from skating video games. I don’t need to dig into career mode. I don’t need anybody to play with, though a little multiplayer is fun every now and again. No, all I need is a free skate. I’m probably playing as Rune Glifberg. I’m probably in the warehouse. “Superman” is playing on repeat. Here I am, getting older all the time. Feeling younger in my mind.
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