Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wishlist: What I want in Tony Hawk HD

He's back....
Now that Activision has announced a new Tony Hawk game coming to XBOX Live and Playstation Network, I feel compelled to point out to Bobby Kotick what worked in the classic Tony Hawk games and why their recent games sucked.  There's a plethora of topics that I can talk about, but I'm going to limit this one as much as I can.  So Mr. Kotick, here's what I want to see in Tony Hawk HD when you release it.  Please don't disappoint.

 When the Tony Hawk games first released, they created a genre.  Nobody had ever made a sports game specifically about skateboarding, much less one that featured the best and brightest of the sport.  Tony Hawk's Pro Skater defined the genre, and the sales numbers proved it.  I bought my copy of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 when it first came out on the original Playstation.  I still remember popping that sucker into my console and hearing Papa Roach, Millencolin, and Public Enemy blasting through the speakers as I tore bells off the walls of the school.  Nowadays, the songs are as iconic as the actual game itself.  Superman by Goldfinger is a prime example.  I wish for Tony Hawk HD to include some of the tracks from the original games, but innovate on it, as well.  A lot of new music has come out in the past decade that would fit into this game perfectly.  Make my brain equate the new music with the nostalgia I feel for the classic tracks.  I don't know about you, but I equate the picture below with Blood Brothers by Papa Roach.  First level of the game, first track you hear.  You see where I'm going with this.

After Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 came out, you could tell that there was a definite shift in development style and direction in the franchise.  Starting with Underground, the Tony Hawk games began incorporating story into the campaigns.  In my opinion, this was a major mistake.  Part of what made the early Pro Skate games entertaining wasn't the story.  It was the fact that you had a two minute clock to work with.  When you first unlocked a level, you'd use that time to explore, figure out the place.  Then you'd spend the next dozen or so attempts trying to clear as many goals as possible.  So, following these guidelines, my wish is for Tony Hawk HD to incorporate that style of gameplay.  Ditch the terrible story writing, nobody cares about that in skating games.

One thing that bugs me about games that try to "reboot" a series is when they essentially update the textures and change absolutely nothing else about the game.  When you pay homage to a series with a reboot, you still need to innovate.  Add new parts to the classic levels.  Add a break room to the Warehouse.  Let me trash the bathrooms in the school.  Open up an ATV track in Suburbia.  Stuff like that.  While you're at it, make some new challenges for the revamped levels.  Sure, I'm always willing to go looking for SKATE, but put the letters in different places this time.  Make me look for it. Make me trudge through the deepest recesses of my brain to remember the layout of each area and force me to explore the new locations.

One of the best ways to make a reboot shine is to make it feel new and novel while still giving the old fogies a nostalgia trip.  That way, the new content gets equated with the nostalgia of the old.  Keep that sense of awe when we first unlocked Spider-Man.  Keep up the crazy stunts to get the secret tapes.  But at the same time, make us explore the areas we used to shred up.  Make us stumble upon new areas.  Once we get into that realm, we will want to explore.  We will have that experience that we had when we were young and first trying out these games.

Don't mess with me, I'm Spider-Man!

When Mark Rosewater, head of R&D for Magic: The Gathering, created the Time Spiral block, he wanted to pay homage to what had come before.  He wanted to recognize the good and bad of prior eras, and bring it all together.  Once he had brought everything together, he iterated, and then innovated, on it.  With Planar Chaos and Future Sight, he effectively created a Past, Present, and Future, scenario.  That was his plan.  He recognized what worked, and built upon it.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Activision needs to do with the mighty Bird-Man.

No comments: