The Tony Hawk series kicked off with two fantastic games, but for the past seven years it has tucked in protectively and let the momentum carry it downhill. Sorry about that, I need a lame opening analogy on my resume or I'll never get a gig at a game magazine.
While the enjoyable skating mechanics of the first few titles are still intact, each new iteration manages to place an increasingly larger barrier between you and the fun. Take the 5 billion point trick lines which require you to memorize and press more buttons than the Konami code to perfectly execute every move, from the Half-Fakey No-Nose 980 McTwist to skating forward. The retention rate for top Tony Hawk players is only 10%, with most developing crippling carpal tunnel syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder within three months.
Now this is what skateboarding's all about.Then there's the wacky "Dude, throw this tomato at a dog that's pooping out of its BUTT, and it's even funnier because the dog is wearing one of those cones around its head!" Bam Margera inanity that keeps coming back Rasputin-style when everyone wants it to die. Bam does whatever the bleep he wants, and what he wants is to make Tony Hawk players experience deep shame and regret.
With the release of the sublimely straightforward Skate, the Tony Hawk series is in trouble. You might even say it's time to skate or die, if you're melodramatic and think that referencing old games makes you cool. If the Tony Hawk series hopes to return to its former glory, a number of fundamental changes need to be made. Here are a few suggestions.
Even if these suggestions aren't good enough to implement (that was false modesty, they're totally great), I hope that Mr. Hawk and company can get the series back on track so I can stop worrying about it so much. I've almost forgotten what it feels like to sleep through an entire night without waking up in a cold sweat.
Quite possibly the best $10 Xbox Live Marketplace game that's being packaged and sold at full price. 7/10
Spider-Man: Friend Or Foe
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Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
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Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
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Soul Nomad & The World Eaters
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The Orange Box
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Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask Of The Betrayer
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Undercover: Operation Wintersun
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Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions
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Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron
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Race Driver: Create & Race
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The first phase of The Olive Garden's cyber rollout will introduce their Neverending Pneumatic Pasta Tube. This works on the same principal as bank drive-thru deposit tubes, but with unfrozen linguini and spaghetti.
Do you remember the crazy clothes and hair of the 1990s? Do you remember Crystal Pepsi and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Do you remember where you hid the box your mother gave you?
It's still okay to like Ben Stiller, guys.
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