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- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
With today’s reveal of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, I’m finding myself very excited. I wasn’t super fond of the first two games, but the third title in the franchise was my jam. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 Remastered is all but inevitable, and we may be seeing Tony Hawk’s Underground make a return, too. I can’t wait!
The Generation Gap
The first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games introduced many people to the world of professional and street skateboarding. They also happened to arrive in an era of transition.
The PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were certainly popular in their own right, don’t get me wrong. Each of these two consoles, however, had their fair share of limits. Gaming wasn’t quite as mainstream as the same way it is today. A lot of people played them, yes, but it wasn’t until the next generation when things really took off.
The debuts of the GameCube, Xbox, and especially the PlayStation 2 marked the moment when gaming was truly becoming mainstream, owing in part to two of these consoles being relatively cheap DVD players as well. That also meant that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was the first introduction to the franchise for many people and makes Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 Remastered even more likely.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 Remastered is probably coming
When you look at the raw sales of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise, each of the early games did pretty darn well. This was helped along by a multiplatform release strategy — and the third game stepped things up a notch. The first game is available on six platforms, the second is available on seven platforms, and the third is available on eight platforms. The second and third games also got a PC release, although it wasn’t as good as it could have been.
THPS3 also marked some major milestones for the franchise. A new console generation meant a new level of graphics. The larger-than-life, hilarious, and often controversial Bam Margera made his debut. Even the music stepped things up; niche punk bands were soon finding themselves in the company of bigger acts like Motorhead, Alien Ant Farm, Redman, and Xzibit.
All of these things combined into what I believe is the point where Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater really hit its stride. Subsequent games added little things here or there, but it was the third game that defined what an entertaining skateboard game would be like. Put it another way: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 Remastered is the Super Mario 64 of skating games. They’d be nuts to pass it up.
And THUG might not be far behind
The same formula won’t work forever with few exceptions (namely Coca-Cola and soap operas). Even the righteous fun of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater had to evolve, and that evolution was Tony Hawk’s Underground.
Rather than sail through parks and arenas with the pros, you suddenly found yourself creating a custom character and going through a story mode. You could even hop off the board and run around on foot! Character customization evolved even further, adding a greater personal touch to your experience.
Tony Hawk’s Underground did well enough in its own right (as did Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 and Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, mind). If Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 does well enough, I don’t see why we won’t see this game get a remaster as well. After that, however, things didn’t turn out so great.
Off the rails
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater has undeniably been a successful franchise, but most of that success was front-loaded. Many of the problems we’ve seen with stuff like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were first made evident with the Tony Hawk’s games. They weren’t innovating and capturing the imagination like the originals used to. Forays into peripherals — remember that awful skateboard controller? — and mobile gaming couldn’t quite match the blockbuster sales of the previous games.
Most importantly, Neversoft eventually closed down. These were the guys in charge of all but one of the Tony Hawk’s games from 1999–2007. From there, new developers took over, and they just couldn’t produce the same results.
Maybe Robomodo failed to capture that special Neversoft magic. Maybe people were tired of skating games. It’s hard to pin down any one reason, but a bunch of things combined together and nearly killed the Tony Hawk’s franchise.
Now, games like OlliOlii, Session, Skater XL, and even Skatebird show that there is still very much an appetite for skateboarding games. The return of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is most welcome, and I’m sure Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 Remastered will be equally well-received. I just hope it’s put in the right hands.