Poor Tony Hawk. He use to have a place in gaming back in the late 90′s. Over the past couple of years, each effort has been worse than the last. Nothing could have saved Tony Hawk until now. I must say, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD marks a triumphant return. Yes, it may be a HD “remake”, but that doesn’t stop its greatness. Even after 13 years, the game has aged rather well. And let me clear one thing up: this isn’t an HD title like you’ve seen before. Instead, Robomodo re-created everything in the game while still using the original code. This means every item, object, skater and board has all been re-made from scratch. This is how you do an HD title properly.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD consists of levels collected from the first two installments along with half of the games’ original soundtracks. Upon starting the title and hearing Goldfinger’s “Superman”, nostalgia slapped me in the face. With a smile, I simply said, “Bad ass,” and started playing.

You have 10 characters to select from, along with a few secret ones. Each and every level has the same exact challenges as their originals, with the exception of hidden tapes now called DVDs. Everything is in the same place just like it was 13 years ago, but now much prettier.

Warehouse looks more sexy than ever.

With this title being a complete make-over, the real question is, “Does it feel like the original?” Yes, yes it does… and it feels damn good. Like I said before, even after all these years, the gameplay still holds up and feels fresh, while still being stuck in the 90′s. It took me a good minute to get back into the feel, but once I got going, everything felt natural, and I felt like a kid again. Career mode is still the same and must be completed with and each and every skater if you wish to max out their stats. You can even play as your goofy Xbox Avatar too! I did run into a couple of annoying glitches. For instance, occasionally I’d wreck and continue to do so over and over again, even after respawning. There was also a time where I couldn’t ollie and was forced to restart. Thankfully, these didn’t happen too often.

Upon completing goals, you’ll earn cash. Cash can be used to upgrade your stats, get new boards and buy more tricks. You can also unlock “PROjectives,” which is a brand new set of goals, but you’re given 1 minute instead of 2. You can still customize your tricks and select the ones that will get you to the top of the leaderboard. Not that it really matters, we all know how leaderbaords end up in video games these days, but at least you can compare to your friends. In the single player portion of the game, you can choose from three classic modes: Career, Free Skate, and Single Session. In addition to that, Robomodo created two new game modes: Hawkman and Big Head Survival.

New game modes like Big Head Survival are a welcomed addition.

Big Head Survival is a game of  pulling off big tricks quickly. When not scoring points, your head slowly inflates and increases it’s growth rate over time. High points will reduce your percentage, but if you hit 100%, pop goes your head and confetti disperses. Unfortunately, if you choose to use your Avatar, you’ll be carrying around a ballon. Microsoft will not allow violent actions to happen to Xbox Avatars.

Hawkman is a little different. Each level has multicolored coins you must collect as fast as you can. Each color represents a different action you must do to collect them; grind for yellow, air tricks for red, manual for green, and wall ride for blue. Once you learn where everything is, it’s a blast to try to complete the entire run in one continuous trick.

All these returning game modes and features are great, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD’s biggest fault is its lack of split-screen. Most won’t care simple because they added 4 player online, but I’m old school. If I were able to sit down and play this with friends in split-screen, it would be a whole new level of fun. It’s certainly not a deal breaker though. The online portion of the game does hold up really well, though trying to find a match was a little painful due to limited number of players at the time. The times when I did get into a game, it ran flawlessly. No lag, no glitches… just straight up classic gaming from the 90′s in HD and online.

Online mutliplayer really spices things up!

My biggest turnoff with the online are the limited number of options. You can play all the levels and game modes with up to 4 people, including old school modes: Trick Attack, Graffiti, etc. However, once you select a mode, there’s no way to change it without returning to the lobby. This also applies once a Trick Attack game is completed. There’s not even a “replay” option. You’re forced to return to the lobby. It’s manageable, but annoying. Still, having the option of being able to skate around your childhood levels with 4 friends is pretty satisfying.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD also offers alternative outfits for each character, for example, a low-res Tony Hawk. Before you ask, no, I didn’t unlock Spider-Man. That’s not to say he’s not hidden somewhere in the game.

The hands down coolest thing in game is the ability to use cheat codes, which is something that isn’t too popular in this day and age. For players who just want to sit back and have some dumb fun, this is sure to be a much-appreciated addition. There’s also detailed pages of “How To Play” for new players and a detailed map with locations of all your goals while playing which can really help if you’ve never played the originals since you can’t rotate the camera.

Officer Dick!!!!!!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD just raised the bar for HD releases. No other upgraded title compares to this remake. It has the old school feel, the current-gen look and brings back a great set of memories along with creating new ones. EA’s Skate may have dug Tony Hawk into the ground with its innovative stick controls, but Tony Hawk has been resurrected in an amazing way, even if it’s just a “remake.” There’s simply no other skateboarding game that can leave memories like these games did back in the day, then bring them back on a greater level.

For $15 you just can’t go wrong. It brings close to everything you ever wanted from a remake—along with some fantastic additions—while at the same time not ruining the nostalgia. Activision has accomplished a great feat with this title, providing tons of content at a price that feels right. If you’re an old school gamer, it would be criminal not to pick this up day one. For new players, you can now experience what you missed out on over a decade ago. If you don’t… then it pains me to inform you that you have brain damage. Just kidding. Maybe.

Here’s the Rundown:
+ An HD remake that’s actually remade
+ Original soundtrack along with some new tunes
+ 90′s coding with current gen graphics that works
+ Online multiplayer
+ Officer Dick!
– No split screen
– Minor annoying glitches

9 and 9.5 represent the pinnacle of the genre, a game that defines what that genre should be about. These scores are for games that you not only feel would be worth your purchase, but you would actually try to convince your friends to buy them as well.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD was developed by Robomodo and published by Activision.  The game was released on July 18, 2012 for 1200 MSP ($14.99) on XBLA with a future PC and PSN release.  A copy was supplied to RipTen for review purposes.