When we reviewed the recently released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, Chris Carlson talked about the nostalgia and warm fuzzy feelings that diving back into familiar stages in the Xbox Live Arcade release gave him. In so many ways, that’s how I felt when I first viewed the Kickstarter pitch video for UpUpStart’s Epic Skater. Members of the original Tony Hawk design team are working hard to recapture the sounds, speed and sick tricks while adapting the control scheme for iOS touchscreens.
The project is led by Andy Gentile, a former THPS top-ranked player and former Neversoft employee working on the storied skateboarding series. He’s assembled a team of former colleagues that live and breathe asphalt. For those looking for credibility before backing a project, Epic Skater is bursting with it.
The game’s aesthetic is extremely appealing, blending approachable, cartoony characters with real-world locations. The seamless blending of the two is a credit to artists Justin Mohlman (Singularity, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD), Todd Wahoske (Guitar Hero 3, Lead Environment Artist on Tony Hawk’s Project 8), Mark Scott (credited on 40 games) and Dallas Holloway (credited on five AAA games). The 2D, side-scrolling gameplay is a perfect fit for handheld touch screens. There are no virtual d-pads. It’s a smart decision that will make the game accessible to a wider audience.
Along the way, players will level up and unlock new tricks. The control scheme allows for eight of them to be in the repertoire at any time, so players will be able to mix and match their favorite skills. Each run will be accompanied by original music, but if you run into tracks you really can’t bear to hear, you’ll be able to turn them off individually. The team will monitor which tracks are player favorites (and least desired), possibly removing oft-muted tunes from later releases to save space.
The project has a (relatively) modest target of $50,000, which will make the single-player game a reality. There are also two stretch goals in place should funding explode. At $100,000, a Create-a-Dude feature will be implemented so players can build their own skater. Frankly, this would be smart for them to incorporate even if they don’t quite make it. Aesthetic creation tools are a gateway to in-app purchases, after all.
At $150,000, the team will work to build in asynchronous multiplayer. This will allow players to race against their friends’ ghosts (similar to how the new SSX’s multiplayer mode works). In addition, a new turn-based game type will be implemented. This intrigues me.
Watching Epic Skater in action gives me the same feeling as when I saw the immensely addictive Jetpack Joyride in action for the first time. The premise is simple, the control scheme accessible and the aesthetic charming. Do I want this on my iPhone and iPad? Yes. I think I do.
You can check out the pitch video below and get all the details on the Epic Skater Kickstarter page here.