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Can a Playstation game be accurately ported to a handheld?

By James Stevenson     June 29, 2001

Easily one of the top two launch titles for the Game Boy Advance, TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 2 manages to re-create the Playstation experience with the same graphics and intuitive controls that made the PSX game so popular.

When Activision sent us the first screen shots for TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 2 for the GBA, there wasn't a jaw not on the floor.  Somehow, the game looked remarkably like the PSX version, the only big difference being the camera angle.  The first time I played the game at E3, I had the same reaction: my jaw was on the floor.  The game has all the tricks, levels and fun factor that made the console versions the hottest videogame property on the market.

If you've ever played TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 2 on the PSX or DC, just imagine the same game, but from the 2/3 camera angle.  While this above-the-level-view can pose some depth perception problems, it allowed Vicarious Visions to fully re-create the HAWK 2 and five of its skateparks.

The game plays exactly the same as the console versions: you have a button to ollie, a button for grab kicks, another for kick tricks and a final button for grind tricks.  Pushing in different directions when you press a trick button performs a different trick.  The game also features the signature moves like the 900, as well as the manual popularized in Hawk 2.  The physics are dead-on to the console versions, and if you've played and THPS game, you'll feel right at home on the GBA version.

Remarkably, five skateparks from the console versions are accurately portrayed in the GBA version.  The sixth park, a bonus, is the hangar from the original TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER (a very nice touch).  A pretty good compliment of tricks and boards are included in the game and all the pros are included.  It's amazing how much detail has been put into this small cart.

There is only one small concern in the gameplay department.  That's the camera angle.  Although it works pretty well, it can be difficult to tell were some items are, because of the awkward depth perception.  Sometimes trying to get that last little bit of cash can be a major pain.  I realize that the full 3D view wasn't possible on the GBA, but the camera still hurts this title.

The graphics are incredible.  Not only have the levels from the PSX version been recreated nearly perfectly, but the skaters and the animation are all in the game as well.  The presentation remains the same, all the way down to the title screen.  This game is as impressive as IRIDION 3D, just because it imitates the console versions down to the last wall texture.  Awesome port.

Good so far, but there is no way that the sound could be as good as the other Hawk games, right?  Wrong, in some unbelievable fashion, Vicarious Vision got generic music worthy of the Pro Skater franchise.  You get rock, metal, and pop; I still can't believe my ears.  The sound effects from the console versions have also been included to great effect, giving the illusion that this port game is one of its older brothers.

TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 2is an incredible game worthy of the high name.  The folks at Vicarious Visions should be commended, as this game far exceeded all expectations.  It brings everything from the Playstation HAWK 2 and crams it onto Nintendo's portable.  It's an awesome port of the real game and a blast to play.  Between this and CASTLEVANIA: CIRCLE OF THE MOON, you should be set for at least a month.


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

Grade: C

Platform: Game Boy Advance                        

USBR Rating: Everyone

Genre: Extreme Sports

Players: 1

Save: Yes

Developer: Vicarious Visions

Publisher: Activision

Suggested Retail Price: $29.99




Graphics: A-

Sound: A-

Gameplay: A

Replay: B

Fun Factor: A

Reviewer's Wild Card: A+                         

Overall Grade: A



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