Sunday Thoughts: Control is Key

Hold down Cross. Double tap up whilst hovering over Square. Release Cross, Tap Square and Left. Tap Left, right. Hold Triangle.

Boneless to kickflip to darkslide.

Hardly complicated, but when I see people ollieing onto a rail, I think why aren’t you preloading the jump with a flip, a spin, a quick grab? Why aren’t you mixing up your grind whilst on the metal? Why aren’t you comboing out of the grind with another flip and into a manual?

To me, as a age-old player of the Tony Hawk games, playing four or five moves when most only make one isn’t just practice, it’s now instinct; muscle memory lodged so deep in my brain it triggers whenever I walk past something grindable in real life.

[drop2]Those moves have remained constant through the various Pro Skater titles and well into the post THPS4 era, when driving a car, chasing Bam Margera and climbing ladders took over Neversoft’s priorities.

They’re not realistic – they’re not – but when I’m playing a videogame I want it to feel like one, and it’s why I’ve never taken to the terribly stoic Skate series.

Human beings need progression, challenge and direction. If we don’t get them we sit and rot, turning into mush.

For gamers, that means extra levels, more difficulty notches and the token, trivial Pavlovian pings of a trophy or Achievement. For Tony Hawk fans, it means reaching a x50 combo, breaking five million on a run in Canada, or looping The Mall with your eyes closed.

For me, it’s bettering myself on the Venice Beach level.

I’ve been to Venice Beach. Santa Monica’s a wildly diverse, distinct place: the muscle-bound hulks a mile away and the bearded, mildly unnerving homeless common enough to make repeat visits to the touristy bits something of a guilty novelty.

But I went to see the locations mirrored in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2.

San Francisco, too, to see that twisted metallic statue found just off the Embarcadero. Stupid? Crazy? Probably. But then you don’t know how much time I’ve spent playing those games, repeating the same lines until I can do them in my sleep, crafting another x multiplier and finding new routes for that two minute loop. Ad infinitum.

I bought an American Xbox – back when I had the money for such frivolities – just to play Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2x, a tweaked, updated version of the Dreamcast and PSone title with a few extras and better visuals. I already had a British Xbox.

Games like the early Pro Skater titles are to me the absolute apex of what the industry is all about. Mechanics honed to absolute perfection, levels expertly built, music so suited that the lyrics still circle my brain over a decade later. To others they’re a mystery.

That doesn’t matter.

I know that when the 18th rolls around, and the Xbox 360 version of Pro Skater hits the arcade, I’ll be doing this all over again. It won’t be the same, these things never are and the level count and soundtrack has been considerably compromised in the update, but Robomodo need only really do one thing to make it a hit for me:

Keep those controls the same.

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9 Comments

  1. I also loved the very first tony hawk’s, probably not as much as you by the sound of it but I remember playing it a lot. I’ve got to say though I’m not massively interested in remakes or re-releases, they kill the fond memories of games i had. I’ve played quite a lot of them, and not a single once have I enjoyed the experience. Every single time it has ruined my fond memories of those old games I used to love so I’ve decided I’ll never play an old game that’s remade or re-released ever again, gaming has moved on for the better and its easy to forget how amazing its become.

  2. As someone who used to skate in real life (too old and unfit these days) I much preferred the Skate series, however it still wasn’t particularly realistic. It was still possible to do impossible stuff, like backflip rocket airs onto a handrail, it was just a bit harder to do in Skate than in THPS.
    I still really like THPS (and I will buy HD when it’s released on PS3) with a few exceptions … underground and wasteland were terrible in my opinion.

    • A real life skateboarder eh somthing ive always watched guys do an thought i wish i had the skills an guts to do that sort of stuff an im sure you could still pull off a few moves in you’re old age ;D

    • Agreed R1M,I preferred skate for its realism,(again being a skater),I think it was because the TH games got a bit stale (no pun intended) I’m gonna get hd,we shall to have blast online when it appears :) I played THPS 2 to death!

  3. Tony 2 was fantastic many a happy hour definitely getting this when it finally gets to ps3.

  4. I must admit, while I prefer the originals, I’m happy with the current HD remake trend. Games like Tony Hawks, DMC and Sly Cooper are classics and every bit as much fun today. Provided you don’t muck about with the formula, looks at Capcom (StreetFighter and Marvel Remixes). There are still a few more series, such as the Crash Bandicoots and the original Twisted Metal games I’d love to se redone, not to mention the Black Mesa Half Life or Crimson Skies and the Rogue Squadron series.

    I honestly can’t say we’ve came on that far in gaming terms this gen. I cannot see me ever wanting a graphically updated COD game, or any other generic clone from this gen, the way I still long to fire up the SNES for Mario World or more recently Cannon Spike on the Dreamcast. This gen concentrates too much on online multiplayer, waving your arms around and screwing the consumer.

  5. love the remake trend R&C is amazing.

  6. Skate was ok was bit frusrating at times (sequels) because of the R+L setup, but years of Tony Hawk’s really did it because the gameplay of it was really fun until probably Underground 2 whenever it went downhill, the next games still fine but needed new ideas. Gutted that I may have to wait to buy the PS3 version is my only con.

    Anyway having more than one Skateboarding game is sweet and its always nice to have choice, I hope EA haven’t abandoned Skate because I’m sure it sells and with Tony Hawk’s maybe they could do a reboot or something if Pro Skater is a success or even just update it with new levels and feature rather than retail. (Just a wee thought)

  7. Cor. Imagine if cool controls were something that was pursued as vigorously as new blood splatter patterns.

    This article has made me want to get THPS. I’d love Alex C to watch me playing it too. Epic LOLZ.

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