TONY HAWK’S PRO SKATER 3 IS THE BEST ONE. Balls to you, it’s not the second one. The second one had the best soundtrack by a damn country mile, but the honour of best game goes to THPS 3. Sorry fanboys (pretty much just Jamie).
You must save the planet Skateboardia from angry pensioners! OK, that’s a lie. But hardly anything I review has a story and I crave drama.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater hit the Playstation back in 1999 and delivered easy to play but hard to master, high score fueled video game CRACK. I don’t think I have a single male friend that didn’t lose months of their adolescence to THPS 1 OR 2.
The defining purpose of Games Revisited is seeing if old good games are still good games now. The Tony Hawk’s series may be the quintessential old-but-still-good-game – take any entry in the THPS series and I guarantee it will still play like a dream today. So why single out the third entry?
For those unfamiliar with the THPS ethos, it’s simple – you have 2 minutes and 10 objectives, complete as many objectives as you can in the time allotted. This may be completing a high score through doing as many tricks as possible, or ferreting out items from hard to reach places using ramps and grinds.
So again, why is THPS 3 the best? BALANCE. It’s not a big secret that the THPS series went seriously off the rails (pun not intended but holy shit I’ll take it!) after the fourth game. Silly additions like getting off your board, unnecessary tricks like sticker slaps, dull attempts at storylines, stupidly large maps, and an over reliance on Bam sodding Margera led to the games becoming over-complicated and boring.
But those first two…they’re uncomplicated, well designed and simple. Simple. Reeeeeeeally simple. THPS 3 added reverts, breeding a whole new level of combo racking ability with one simple press of the shoulder button when your skater comes down from an air trick. Hit the revert and you can link into a manual, from a manual you can grind, from there you can hit flip tricks and so on and so on. You hit the ground from an air trick on THPS 1 or 2 and that’s that. Done. Combo over.
I understand this may be the more realistic bent, but here’s the thing – THIS IS A VIDEO GAME. If I wanted realism I could buy a skateboard and be in hospital with shattered kneecaps before the week is out! Give me gargantuan million point combos, let me skate inside an airport, don’t let Bam Margera touch me or talk to me, this is the gospel for a perfect THPS game. The maps in THPS 3 are all really well balanced between both character and skateability, something that has been a constant struggle for the series – it was either a bland emotionless skatepark or a vast shopping mall with nothing to actually bloody skate on. THPS 3’s maps hit on a sweet spot – just big enough to be interesting and warrant exploration, but not so big it’s daunting.
Airport! Canada! Skater Island! Suburbia! Just awesome.
Still looks superb. The character models lack animation and aren’t exactly the most well defined, but THPS 3 still runs smoothly, there’s no pop up and the levels are bright and feel alive thanks to some strategic pedestrian placement. And good lord, who doesn’t love a THPS soundtrack? THPS 3 might be my favourite one for a couple of reasons…
And most importantly
The Adolescents – Amoeba
Just bloody brilliant. One of the single most playable and straight up fun games ever created, only bolstered by some refinements to the game mechanics and some fantastic level design. Legitimately one of the finest games ever produced.
Pros : The most fun you can have garnering high scores, great levels, you can play as Darth Maul, immensely smooth and playable, awesome soundtrack, AMEOBAAAAAAAAA! AMEOBAAAAAAAAAAA!
Cons : Almost every game that followed it was the drizzling shits, you can play as everyones favourite emo-tough Wolverine.