|Developer(s)||Neversoft (PS1 & NGE)
Edge of Reality (N64)
|Publisher(s)||Activision (PS1, N64 & GBC)
Crave Entertainment (DC)
|Platform(s)||PlayStation, Nintendo 64,Game Boy Color, Dreamcast,N-Gage|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation NA August 31, 1999 EU 2000 JP March 30, 2000
Nintendo 64 NA February 29, 2000 EU December 10, 2000
Game Boy Color NA March, 2000 EU 2000
Dreamcast June 29, 2000
Joel: Arguably one of the biggest and best skateboard game franchises started right here. …And what a start it was! This game really took advantage of the power of “modern” 😉 CD based game media and processing power, incorporating outstanding graphics, a rocking “real music” punk soundtrack and a relatively decent physics engine making this a game one could come back to time and time again – if only to (try, repeatedly, in vain) to knock your friends off your high score table. The music alone is almost enough to be fair – it’s one of my personal favourite game soundtracks.
I’m not sure I need to explain the concepts of a skateboarding game really, but I suppose for the uninitiated it wouldn’t do any harm: You, represented by your chosen big-name-in-skateboarding avatar compete with other people on a variety of pre-arranged tracks ranging from the most excellent “Warehouse” to the slightly absurd “Area 51” to score the most points by carrying out a series of tricks against the clock. Simple. And great fun.
It was obviously a winning combination as there were many sequels, re-imaginings and spin-offs but to be honest, I really preferred the first one. The tricks rapidly became ridiculous, as did the scoring system: 150k points after two minutes on the warehouse level probably qualifies you as a “skilled” player on THPS, however in later games 150k points on a single trick qualifies you as, at best, an amateur. Scores escalated into millions, often for single tricks. I didn’t like that.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous review, I recently (probably not so recently now, but within the last 6 months I’m sure) acquired a most bargainous -if that’s not a word, it should be- Dreamcast and I picked a copy of THPS in a bundle of games purchased from a certain well known auction website. Couldn’t believe my luck! I summoned Liam as quickly as he could muster and we set about tearing chunks off each other. I took an early lead and felt very pleased with myself. Then he seemed to remember how it all works and before long I was screaming at him like I did when we were 17. All that was missing was a Domino’s Pizza and a few of our other friends. We had regressed ten (I’m sticking to that number, say what you will) years in the space of about 20 minutes. As it stands, I believe he holds all ten positions on the high score table, and I’m sure that will be the photo he uses when he posts this article. We got to chatting about things 30in30 related and I mentioned that I still had my old PS1 memory cards so we decided that when he shipped me the game (another one I’d misplaced over the years, I even still had the case annoyingly, just no disc) I’d fire it up and check out the score tables on that one in order to settle the debate as neither of us had played in on the Dreamcast before and hadn’t put in our best performances. Yeah – he had the top three scores on that one too. That may also be the photo he posts to accompany this. (LF – Both photos are attached 🙂)
This is going to be a high point in the marathon, that’s an absolute certainty. He’s going to win, I’m fairly convinced. But I tell you what – I don’t even care. I get to play Tony Hawks. To quote a song by my favourite band – Nothing else matters.
Liam: I remember when I first bought this game second hand from a game store with a broken box and no manual. I sucked. I didn’t have friends who skateboarded and despite being a fan of pop-punk (I had a 2nd hand copy of Full Circle, a NOFX t-shirt and had once seen Reel Big Fish in concert by this point – I was clearly an expert) I had never even heard of Tony Hawk or any skateboarding terms. Once someone showed me how to play the game I was away. I learnt on THPS and I was capable of scoring 200k+ on the warehouse in an average run. I would be lucky to hit half of that now. I used to get to the point where having played a long session, I would view the world through ‘Tony Hawk goggles’ noticing interesting items to grind off and places to do tricks. Funny thing is I can’t skateboard –in fact I can’t even ride a bike without falling on my face after a few minutes.
This game and all the preceding sequels are renowned for having some of the best soundtracks in games. I may be a bit biased as this is the kind of music I listen to anyway but the THPS series gave me introductions to bands like Guttermouth, Zebrahead, Sublime and The Distillers. These music influences finally killed the Grunge phase I was going through (except Bush, Bush rock).
I had no exposure to skateboarding until this game. It seems in the few years after the whole scene exploded with Tony Hawk being a household name and skateboarding through TV shows like Jackass became mainstream alternative culture. The game spawned multiple sequels of varying degrees of quality, sadly moving away from the slick arcade action of the first game. I still believe the first is the best in this case. The graphical superiority of the newer games impressed me for a few months, but the game-play of this version still impresses me to this day. I did own THPS4, THUG and THP8 but none came close to this game. I think once you were able to string tricks together to the point where you could perform a single trick that lasted for minutes it got a bit silly. I remember after figuring out how to do manual and handplant variations, being able to win HORSE competitions (a game mode where you take it in turns to perform a trick with the lowest scorer gaining a letter from ‘horse’ until you lost 5 games and spelt the whole word) without moving from the spot I started in.
I‘m going to go out on a limb and say I will comfortably destroy Joel at this game. Although to be fair THPS score runs always end up as you challenging your own previous score rather than direct competition. I think there will be much more danger of one of us falling out with ourselves (possibly launching a controller across the room) then falling out with each other although I dare say there will be some light ribbing of each others scores.
Here are the promised screenshots of me performing the most humiliating thing in gaming. Owning the high score table on someone else’s console – swish.