Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Sometimes you sit for hours and words won’t come out. You’ll type up drivel over and over again, the same crap reworded six or seven different ways, all of it saying the same thing but sucking more and more and more than it did the last time. Right now, this is one of those times. I don’t know what to say. I’m trying to write a review for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for the Dreamcast. I’ve tried all the introductions, the “Dreamcast is dead” nostalgia trip, the “don’t think the Dreamcast is dead” anti-nostalgia trip, and even writing something completely irrelevant at the beginning of the introduction in the hopes that it will lead into something. Like this one, that maybe you’re reading right now. It might still get backspaced to death.
This is the paragraph that I have to introduce the gameplay during. This is where I’m supposed to tell you how innovative the game is in comparison to its predecessor. I’m supposed to babble on endlessly about the new additions to the game, such as the manual trick and the skate park editor. Maybe during this section I’ll make bold statements, even going as far as proclaiming this to be the very best Tony Hawk game ever released! Perhaps I’ll do that. But then again, maybe I won’t, because right now, I feel like talking about the soundtrack.
I sing along to the songs. Not just because I know all the words, but because I actually enjoy most of them. That’s a rarity in games these days, at least when the songs aren’t all well known. Sure, you could probably blame radio exposure, since bands like Rage Against the Machine, Papa Roach, and Powerman 5000 were played all the time when the game was released, or you could blame the incredible amount of time I’ve spent with the game, but no, it’s just because they’re good. Stop pointing fingers. The music remains perfectly audible over the clicks and clacks of the skateboards and screams of pain from your star athlete as you slam them into the pavement, so that’s just another plus.
Speaking of the incredible amount of time I’ve spent with this game…well, the amount of time I’ve spent with this one is…….incredible. I’ve never played any other console game I’ve owned more than this one. There’s just a whole lot of crap to do. You’ll skate all over the world, in factories in Canada to a giant half-pipe you drop down onto from a helicopter, and each level is full of many varied goals, like tricking over certain segments or collecting items that are related to the are you’re in (subway tokens in New York City, Liberty Bells in Philadelphia).
Some of these goals must be completed in order to move onto the next one (about six out of the ten goals per level), which is typical for most games. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 rewards completists with increased stats and new decks to roll around on, so continued replays are a must if you want to see everything. Completion of the career mode also unlocks two more levels to add to the original eight, but if that’s not enough for you, there’s always the fully-featured level editor to keep you busy for a while.
Actually, that level editor is one of the biggest additions to the game. The original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was tiny. I can clear that game in thirty minutes these days. They didn’t want that to happen with the second one, so we’re given the skatepark editor. I like the editor a lot. You can’t make levels quite like the ones in the career mode, not really even close, but if you’re creative enough you can build a fairly sizable park with lots of ramps and gaps and jumps to do tricks off of. Should you choose, you can make a giant half-pipe and have your skater do tricks in it for as long as you’d like. Or you can make a huge skatepark to match the one in your hometown. It’s pretty cool either way.
It turns out though that the actual biggest addition (not one of the biggest additions, keep up with me won’t you?) to the game comes in the form of a single new trick, called the manual. For all you non-skaters out there, the move consists of a deceptively easy looking balancing act on your front or rear wheels. While that may not sound at all important to anyone out there, this simple balancing act enables us players to link together various tricks to rack up even higher points than were ever possible in the first game.
Ah yes, tricks: the bread and butter of the Tony Hawk series. Where would a skateboarding game be without a plethora of sweet moves to pull off? I’d say in the bargain bins, but since this is a Dreamcast game that I found in a bargain bin, that doesn’t work as an insult, so maybe it’d be in a secret, crappier part of the bargain bins that no one is allowed to touch…or something.
Anyhow, the developers had the good sense to include dozens of tricks that I never knew the names of before I played the game and made them all super-easy to pull off. Most can be performed by pushing a face button and moving the analog stick in a direction. This makes the game nice and easy to get used to, but as you progress in the game you’ll earn enough cash to learn some new tricks that require more vigorous button combinations to perform, which keeps the game from getting stale.
Everything looks good too, including the tricks. Everything does. Each of the tricks is smoothly performed with no random clipping at sight, with very few “how the hell did they do that” moments. Even the skateboards look just like it should and as for the actual riders, they look a lot like their pictures in the menus, which is a great thing. The draw-distance (you know, the distance you can see in a level) is substantially improved over the PSOne version of the game. One thing that slightly disturbed me were the “audiences” to some of the levels you’re playing: there’s no one in the seats, but a lot of people are cheering for you. There aren’t even shi tty sprites there; just empty seats clapping for you. It’s mildly creepy.
It must be time to wrap this review up, because I just misspelled mildly, creepy, and randomly added a “d” to the end of “because.” At the end of the day, I really like this game. Correction: at the end of the day, I really love this game. It’s the only sequel to the Tony Hawk series that ever made any substantial leaps at improving the core game. A Dreamcast and a copy of this game will cost you less than Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, which sucks ass. Plus, a Dreamcast is a great system.
So there, go buy it.