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Ramping up the air time (Aspyr Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2)

posted in Reviews on September 9th, 2007

Approximately eight years ago, a company called Neversoft released a title that would shake up the sports game market. Aiming for a new audience with their game, Neversoft hired Tony Hawk and tried to bring the excitement and fun of skateboarding to the living room, while at the same removing the injuries-factor from the equation and thereby keeping parents happy.

After immense success, a follow-up tittle was released, called Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (THPS2) and now, in 2007, released a mobile version.

Ever since I was first exposed to this game by my host family during my first stay in the US of A, I have been in love with this franchise and as such, I expect quite a lot from the Pocket PC version.

Trucks and Wheels

When I first started THPS2, I was greeted with that familiar look and in fact, the whole interface feels and looks like its bigger (and older) brother.

The game provides you with a variety of options, such as a very entertaining Career Mode with which you can unlock levels that can then be played in both the Single Session mode as well as the Free Skate mode.

Other than the various game types, the main menu also provides you with access to the Create-a-Skater tool and you can even build your own skate parks.

Naturally, the first thought that you might have is “great! a nice way of extending the game” but let me shatter your dreams right here, right now. Building a skate park is no easy feat and trust me, I have tried on both the Playstation version and on the Pocket PC version.

Nonetheless, I should note that actually interacting with the park editor is quite easy. The buttons are set up in an easy to understand way and you have access to just about every item from the game itself.

Sophisticated crate scooters

THPS2 provides the user with a variety of unlockable options such as new board designs, which really only serve a visual purpose, but the money you earn by completing various goals can also be used to buy stats and tricks.

When you upgrade your skater’s stats, you gain a range of new skills - such as more balance while grinding or longer airtime, which, in turn, means that you can earn more points, combined with a few new high-value tricks, you will be hitting those high scores in no time.

Slides and Grinds

Both the PC and the Playstation version of THPS supported joypads and in general, you needed one to be able to carry out all those amazing jumps and not get wiped out because you did not turn fast enough. The Pocket PC on the other hand does not support a joypad, simply because Windows Mobile is not set up for that.

The guys from Aspyr solved this problem by creating a hybrid control system where you utilize both your hardware buttons and three on-screen buttons for flip, grab, grind as well as a larger button for jumping.

Depending on how you set up your game, the right part of the screen will either be blacked out and only display the buttons, or, if you crank up the graphics a little, you will see the buttons as an overlay of the environment, similar to this:

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

 

The system, in either configuration, works so well that you will be able to hit off huge combos with lots of points easily, although, you should probably not take my skills as an indicator for this.

One thing that is identical to the PC / PSX version however, is the amount of levels - THPS includes each and every (default) level that was also present in the original version, no kidding.

The only thing that is missing, as far as I know, are the bonus levels, but apart from that, you can enjoy every skater, every trick, every board design and loads of great music in the Pocket PC edition.

Skateboard Showroom

For a Pocket PC game, THPS2 has awesome graphics if you ask me, most of all because it is 3D and and you can interact with the environment in a number of ways - you can knock over things, crash right through them, grind on rails and try to play catch-up with vehicles.

I believe that THPS2 is one of those games you have to see to understand the beauty of it really, so I created a three minute clip that showcases a run through the first level. All you have to do is (left) click on this link and a new window will open with the video in it. A note of advice: the clip is 23mb in size, so you might not want to do this on a mobile connection unless you really are dying to see THPS2 in action.

Tail guards

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for Pocket PC is one of the best, if not the best, port of a PC-to-PPC game I have ever played. The control functions were ported in a very creative, yet usable, way and the game includes just about everything the original Playstation version included.

If you are looking for a (nearly) free roaming experience combined with a great sport, great graphics, the $20 you could spend on this game will seem a steal, considering the amount of joy you will get out of this title.

A thank you goes out to Kevin van Beers for volunteering his skating skills so I could record the clip.