Just thinking I'm a Superman.
When they told me Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was getting remade in HD, combining the best elements of THPS 1 and 2, I immediately responded with "Do they have the original soundtrack?" When the response was "Well, yes and no…", it set off a long string of half-disappointments.
Still, it's hard to argue with the grandfather of skating games, the originator, the millenial godsend. Tony Hawk has taken skating from the PS1 to the PS3, from posing at school to posing in the comfort of your own home. The series has come a long way, but has it cleared the gap into HD for better or for worse?
I'll repeat this: The soundtrack in THPS HD is incomplete. There is only one song from the first game, a handful of tracks from THPS 2, and a helping of brand new songs. What's more, you can't skip tracks and you can't fiddle with the playlist. If I hear "When Worlds Collide" one more time, I'm going to shoot this puppy. Do you hear me, Activision?
Hey, since I'm already nitpicking, I'll just say that no HD remake should ever pass over a menu option as simple as being able to skip the song playing in the background. It's just one misstep too many for such an iconic soundtrack. It might not be a big deal to some, but it's certainly a big deal to fans of the original games.
That's not to say that Robomodo hasn't added a slew of excellent new menu features, including detailed maps of all the levels that are easily accessible in the pause menu and a checklist for every level's extensive gaps.
Robomodo has also done a commendable job porting the tight gameplay and sensation of the original. Flying at breakneck speeds over a helicopter and catching the blade to open a hanger door feels just like it did in THPS2.
You really couldn't ask for a more faithful representation of the original games…. or can you? I've played the originals to death, so I noticed a few things. You probably will too. The Call of Duty generation might not, but screw them. They have no idea what they're talking about.
I say this because we remember where all of the hidden tapes were, and that they were tapes and not DVDs as they are in THPS HD. We remember where the alien was in Roswell, New Mexico. We even remember moves like the Christ Air and… and… who the hell is Riley Hawk?
That's right. Goodbye Bob Burnquist, Kareem Campbell, Rune Glifberg, Bucky Lasek, Chad Muska (Chad! NO!), Geoff Rowley, and Elissa Steamer. Hello… Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana… whoever the fuck you are. It's at this point I throw up my arms and sigh in disgust. As faithfully as Robomodo has recreated certain elements, the team (and Activision) have taken a huge, stinky dump on the rest.
It just feels like such a cash-in. Instead of fighting for licenses to the original soundtrack, they opted to include songs no one cares about. Instead of reaching out to the original cast, they've got Jake Harrison, a child I can only assume played the original game when he heard he'd be starring in the "new" one.
Guess what, Jake. You suck. You're not Chad Muska and you'll never be Chad Muska.
Normally, I'd happily look past all of these small, infuriating issues. Beyond my bitching and moaning, THPS HD is entertaining and faithful enough, while still maintaining an identity of its own. It's a downloadable title worth its weight in gold. There's a ton of single-player content, with new and old modes that make multiplayer a scream. Online leaderboards were created for the kind of score-battles you'll have with your friends over Xbox Live.
But I can't! I can't let it go because Activision has so happily achieved sponsorship for nearly every screen in the game. Even the clock that ticks down the time left in your run is sponsored by Nixon watches. If they're going to grub for sponsorships, they should have spent the extra dough on something important—the money paid by Monster Energy Drinks or Etnies shoes could have easily brought back the original crew and soundtrack.
And then there's the Xbox 360's D-pad. This… this is not Tony Hawk's fault. Don't blame Tony. Blame Microsoft for ever thinking the 360's directional pad sufficed for anything. I even have one of the transforming D-Pads and it made little difference. I assume that the PS3 version of THPS HD will be without this issue (seeing as the Dualshock's pad hasn't changed in over a decade.) [Or if you have Fightpad…. which just proves how terrible the Xbox 360 D-pad really is. ~Ed. Nick]
So am I disappointed? Yeah, I'm frustrated that the things I remember so clearly, so fondly, couldn't be bothered with. I'm frustrated that I have a desperate need for a Monster and a Birdhouse deck. For anyone with an itch to play Tony Hawk again, know what you're getting into. THPS HD is a remake that opted to leave what cost too much in the past, consequently hemorrhaging that which we've come to know and love.
Dammit! There's Powerman 5000 again! *BLAM*