Publisher: Activision / Developer: Robomodo / Platform: XBLA

While I’ve never actually played the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, I did play the crap out of THPS 2-4 as a kid.  They weren’t the most realistic skating games out there, but part of the appeal of the series was the silliness.  After the slow, painful downfall of the Tony Hawk series, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is an attempt to revisit an older, simpler time, with features from THPS 1 and 2 redone with a prettier paint job and put up on XBLA.  Is this HD remake worthwhile or is Tony Hawk best left to fond memories?

At first, playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD felt slightly off.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about the game just felt wrong.  Maybe I just don’t remember how the game used to control?  Had I already grown out of the Tony Hawk games?

And then “Worlds Collide” by Powerman 5000 came on, and I felt at home again.

If nothing else, THPS HD is a faithful remake-slash-mashup of the earlier games.  Every little nook and cranny you remember in each level is still there, and the physics, collectables, and objectives are still exactly how you remember them.  A few of the skaters have been changed, and both the level editor and create-a-skater are frustratingly absent.  While there is no Spider-Man, Wolverine, DOOMguy, or other familiar unlockable characters aside from Officer Dick, THPS HD does offer its own set of unlockables, many of them quite difficult to obtain.

Despite the game’s faithfulness to what it is remaking, I couldn’t help but feel like THPS HD could have been so much more.  While the multiplayer mode has been expanded and the Hawkman and PROjectives modes are brand new, the fact that there are only seven stages, and the absence of a level editor and create-a-skater seem like they may have intentionally skimped on some features to offer them as DLC later (for instance, levels from THPS3 have already been announced to come later as DLC).

If you’ve never played the earlier Tony Hawk games before, you might not understand the appeal.  It’s clunky, the music is old, and the presentation can be a bit abraisive at times. THPS HD is an unapologetic ode to nostalgia, and for that I must applaud it.  While the lack of features may leave a bad taste in some gamers’ mouths and the seven levels might grow old rather quickly, it is still a fun game, and does a great job of keeping faithful to the Tony Hawk games we remember.