Activision Confirms New Tony Hawk Game in the Works
Tony Hawk sure is doing a fantastic job of extending his relevancy way past the appropriate level. He’s FORTY FIVE years old now, and he retired from professional skateboarding a whopping fifteen years ago, yet somehow he’s still managing to maintain his celebrity.
During an interview on Sirius XM’s Demolition Radio, Hawk announced/leaked/revealed that Activision, the company behind the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Underground game franchises, is working on a new skateboarding game featuring his namesake. In response to this unofficial announcement by Hawk, Activision confirmed what he said but offered no details on the project, saying only that “more info is coming soon”.
Those familiar with the Tony Hawk games know that the most previous release in the franchise is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, sort of an HD mashup of prior installments that was released Summer of 2012 on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and Steam. Given the announcement that a new Tony Hawk game is in the works, it’s clear that Activision was using the HD release to measure interest in the revitalization of the franchise, and apparently they felt that the response was positive enough to warrant a new title featuring the aged skateboarder.
Regardless of how you feel about Hawk himself, there’s no denying that the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Underground series were quite enjoyable. They allowed a sport and a culture that typically gets no publicity in the United States to gain popularity with young kids through the video game medium, which has led to things like the X Games becoming actual big time events amongst teenagers and college kids.
The games fell into this odd genre of sports RPG, a genre that was explored with games like NBA Ballers: Phenom, but it only seemed to be successful in the context of the Tony Hawk franchises. Perhaps this can be attributed to the easiness of the game, so that even if you had never skated in your life you felt like you were talented and accomplished as you worked your way through the game. The tricks were done simply by pressing buttons in different combinations, and when you failed a trick you just hopped right back up and had thousands of walls and ramps and obstacles on which to try again.
In some ways, a new Tony Hawk game will obviously benefit tremendously from next-gen console technologies, as this will allow for more detailed and high definition skate parks, more online multiplayer options, and just a smoother, more realistic game altogether. I would argue, however, that this may hurt the final product though.
What made the Tony Hawk games of previous console and handheld generations so enjoyable was their arcade, almost cartoonish gameplay. The tricks did not require a lot of technical prowess to accomplish, the “wipeouts” were not all that realistic, even the movements of the skateboard were a bit off. This allowed for tricks and moves that could not be accomplished in real life, though, and one fear that I have with a next-gen Tony Hawk game is that the realism will take away from this and the game will turn into another version of Skate.
For those unfamiliar with the Skate franchise and how awful it was, here’s the best analogy I can come up with to explain it:
SKATE: TONY HAWK as DARK SOULS: SKYRIM
Sometimes realism hurts video games, sometimes it helps them. Most sports franchises with the exception of the NBA 2K and FIFA games are dwindling in popularity and quality because developers are focusing too much on realism and losing what made the games fun in the first place. Sports are inconsequential, therefore games based on them should be just fun and arcade-y, not gritty Christopher Nolan reboots.
A new Tony Hawk game has the potential to be awesome, with a sweet online experience and a harkening back to those sports RPGs long absent from the gaming world. It also has the potential to be an absolute train wreck. Let’s see if the old “Birdman” has one last trick in him.