Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review

So much has changed since the inaugural Tony Hawk Pro Skater released. Inside the game world and out.

By: Drew Dixon

Filed Under: Review Sports


In two years of skateboarding, I learned how to do a decent ollie, a serviceable railslide, and land a handful of kickflips. I never managed to “drop in” a half pipe without busting. I spent more time carrying my Stereo skateboard with Grind King Trucks around town than I actually did skateboarding. I listened to The Drop Kick Murphys, Rancid, and The Bouncing Souls. I wore baggy pants, Etnies, and a trucker hat. I was a skater but I was really horrible at skateboarding. The original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater released before I realized the irony of my chosen identity.

I have a friend who hates sports games. She thinks it’s silly to play games on screen that can be played in person. THPS, however, could not have come out at a better time. It wasn’t long before I had cleared every sick score in every level and was able to beat all my friends at “horse” or “trick attack.” I could kick flip off the roof of the school into a crooked grind on the picnic table below and still manage a 360 indy nosebone off the end of the picnic table. I was doing things in THPS that I would never do in real life, things that no one would ever do in real life. THPS allowed posers like me a virtual space where I could not only dream but succeed.

When I loaded up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, I was surprised to discover that I hadn’t lost much skill. After a couple hours of play, I was pulling off 100,000 point combos and easily clearing each level’s “sick” score. If I were to pull out my Stereo skateboard, I would be surprised if I could ollie without falling.

A lot has changed in the 12 years since I last played THPS. Video games have grown tremendously not only in appeal but in size. Games are giving us bigger and bigger worlds with more and more to do. I have changed a lot too. I am a husband and a father and consequently find myself wondering whether Skyrim was worth the 100 hours I spent on it. Playing TPSHD takes me back to a time when both life and games were a lot more manageable.

The various levels of TPSHD are incredibly small by today’s standards and yet they are incredibly dense. Sometimes the games objectives feel childish—like “ollie the magic bum five times” or “collect 5 spray cans,” but in nearly every instance accomplishing these objectives reveals interesting gaps and objects to exploit for new tricks. I remember these gaps from the days I would come home from school and play TPS for a couple hours. These levels are testimonies of simpler times. Times when I had nothing better to do than “break 5 boxes” and “smash 5 directories.” I appreciate the density of these levels, how I can trick off almost everything in them, and yet, as I play THPSHD, I can’t help but wonder why I am playing.

Tasks like finding all three of the “hangtime” gaps, wall riding 5 bells, and finding the “secret DVD” require more of me than they give back. I suppose it is still mildly amusing to ollie over a bum in Venice Beach, but it is hard to justify doing so five times when I could be playing with daughter. Consequently, THPSHD just feels like too much of a grind.

I no longer wear Etnies and trucker hats anymore. I dress rather plainly. I am more concerned with comfort than style these days. I unashamedly don a brown and pink striped diaper bag in public. I spend as much or more time singing and listening to songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” as I do songs by bands like the Bouncing Souls.

I don’t regret my time in TPSHD. I am thankful for the game, it reminded me that I am no longer a poser.



Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD has a bit of good among foundational flaws

This review based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game provided by the publisher

Filed Under: Review Sports

About the Author:
Drew Dixon is editor-in-chief of Game Church. He also edits for Christ and Pop Culture and writes about video games for Paste Magazine and Think Christian.

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