Review by Pyro Vesten

"Toe-neey Howks Pro Skaytur tooh = Squirtus-maxiumus"

After having played the crap out of the Dreamcast Version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and having seen the GameBoy Color version of the game turn out to be less than brilliant I wasn’t really intending on buying this game. That was until one day, when Nintendo released the first 3 screenshots of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for the GBA. I saw them the day they had been released to the internet public and the moment I saw the very first screenshot I wet my pants. After cleaning myself up I came back for a second look.. I wet myself once more. I kept wondering, could this be on the GameBoy Advance? Do my eyes deceive me? How is it that a first generation game that has been put together in a matter of months look so brilliant? From that moment forward, I knew that I had to own Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, for the GameBoy Advance. Luckily for me the game turned out to play just as well as it looks.

I kept a very close eye on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 in the months leading up to its release, and snapped up a copy the day it came out.

The first thing you will notice about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for the GBA is that the action is seen from a top-down perspective. This takes a while to get used to after having played the 3D console version of both Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. The second thing you will notice, or at least I did is that the game runs at a blisteringly fast 60 frames per second, yes, you heard me right, 60 frames per second and looks gorgeous.

The levels are all pre rendered (which makes for some excellent graphics), and the camera angle remains fixed, so when you go down a half pipe for example, and the camera is inbetween its side and you, you become half visible through the object, so you can see where you are. This is a vital feature that very luckily was implemented in the game and helps the perspective to work excellently.

The other major change over the console versions is that because the game is played from a top-down perspective the controls are initially a little hard to get used to. I was terrible at the game at first, because I kept hitting all the wrong buttons to do what I wanted, and forgetting to do flip tricks and manuals in big strings of tricks I had put together. It was hard to get used to the controls after having played the DC version for so long, let me assure you, but in time you’ll be kick-flipping arse like a pro just as you would in any other edition of the game.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is the best looking GBA launch title by far. The pre-rendered levels look amazing, it runs at 60 frames per second, each skater is made up of 300 polygons (albeit rather low-detail polygons) but from the distance they are away from the camera, when you actually are playing the game they look amazing. Now, time for some mathematics people, 60 x 300 = 18 000. Now what does this mean you may ask? It means a portable console is pumping 18 000 polygons a second on a launch title that was put together in a matter of months! Unthinkable! Vicarious Visions and Activision have done a BRILLIANT job with the graphics in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. This really is jaw dropping stuff when you consider it’s merely first generation software and is running on a portable console, designed for creating 2D visuals.
The Dreamcast and Playstation versions of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 may have had a fully licensed soundtrack featuring ‘real’ songs (including the excellent ‘Guerilla Radio’ by Rage Against the Machine), but these are just not possible on the GBA (at least not at this stage ;), but the GBA version has 10 in-game tracks for you to listen to, which are very well done and sound great. When you consider again that this is ‘just’ a portable console you will realise just how great the sound in the game really is. The actual sound effects are also of great standard, from the rolling of the skateboard wheels over different surfaces such as cement and wood, to the sharp noise of a grind, to the hunger-inducing sounds of bones crunching when you bail a huge trick The days of bleeps and blops are well and truly over folks. Overall both the sound effects and music are excellent, and a great way to show off the audio capabilities of Nintendo’s latest portable. For optimal sound clarity I’d suggest playing the game with headphones though as the GBA’s lone speaker is rather mediocre.

Sorry folks, no multiplayer here. I can understand this though as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was put together in a mere matter of months. It stands very strong without the multiplayer mode though, but we can hope that later editions of the THPS series on the GBA feature some multiplayer modes.

So, you think you’re done? You’ve beaten the game with your skater of choice have you? Got 100% on all of the levels have you? Time to move on and let this little black cartridge collect some dust you say? Well think again. For with each skater you beat the game with (100% on every level), you earn a really cool cheat such as Anime mode, Disco Lights, unlocking Spiderman (yes, he’s an included secret skater), Perfect Balance, Moon Physics, and many more. Once you have beaten the game with EVERY skater 100% on each level, and unlocked the bonus level (which I will keep a secret so I don’t spoil anything for you) there is always the fun of getting high scores. What makes the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series so amazingly replayable is just how damn fun playing them is. You will spend literally months upon months after completing the game with one skater, beating it again and again to unlock stuff and working out the best lines and trying to get even higher and higher scores.

Once you’re used to the controls and new gameplay perspective you’ll find that TPHS2 is quite a challenge, but has a nice learning curve so series newcomers won’t find that they’re faced with frustratingly difficult goals that will require countless repetitions to finally beat. This said, even seasoned THPSers will find a couple of goals pretty tough. I can only imagine that someone unfamiliar with the series may have a tough time 100%ing the game first time through.

Pros:
- Amazing graphics
- Blistering frame-rate
- Godly gameplay
- Next to infinite replayability
- Best GBA launch title (in my opinion)
- Excellent sound, both musically, and sound effect wise
- Fun for everyone (whether you skate, love skating games, or haven’t even stepped on a board)

Cons:
- No multiplayer mode, though the game stands very strong even without it
- Lacks some of the things found in the other versions of the game (but what do you expect? It’s on a portable for crying out loud)
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 isn’t out yet…..

Buy/rent?
BUY! BUY! BUY! This, in my mind, is the best GBA launch title and will remain up there with the best GBA games ever released years after the system has been replaced by something new. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is a must-have for just about anyone. If you don’t already own it and are even vaguely interested in playing a great game I suggest you walk, run, drive, fly, ski, float, teleport, cycle, jump, hop, crawl or sprint down to your nearest video game store and pick yourself up a copy of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. If you don’t own a GBA, this is the reason to buy one. GET. IT. NOW!

Brilliant GBA game, excellent in ALL departments, fun and just plain out amazing. The awesome gameplay of the 3D console games has been converted flawlessly in the transition onto the GameBoy Advance. If there is one GBA launch game to get, this is without a doubt it. An essential gaming experience for almost everyone, whether you own another version (like me) or not.

9.4/10 - Fantastic
(Rounded to 9/10 for GameFAQs)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/23/01, Updated 12/06/03


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