One of the most iconic game franchises in the new millennium, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a standout hit among gamers and skaters alike. Tight controls, innovative gameplay, a killer soundtrack, and an addictive scoring system made the title a must-play experience on the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64 consoles. Best of all, developer Neversoft continued to push boundaries as the series evolved, adding fully customizable characters and boards, interactive maps, and an ever-expanding move set that allowed expert players to grind, handstand, and kick flip their way to multi-million point runs. Local multiplayer allowed friends to go head-to-head in a variety of modes but the true strength of the game was making it fun for dedicated players to keep improving upon their high scores – all on their own.
Following the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 in 2002, the series began to lose some of its momentum. In spite of solid sales numbers, superfluous additions in the rebranded Underground series made the game less palatable to certain players – culminating in the release of the universally panned game/peripheral combo, Tony Hawk: Ride (and its sequel Tony Hawk: Shred) that caused Activision to put the series on ice for a few years. As a result, fans were excited when Tony Hawk announced a new game was in the works; unfortunately, the title is likely to be another reinvention of the series – not a return to fan-favorite form.
Speaking with Bloomberg, Hawk confirmed that the title is not coming to consoles and will, instead, be exclusive to mobile platforms.
Check out the full interview below (video game talk stars at the 4:10 mark):
In case you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s the most important quote from the interview:
“We’ve never gone exclusively that direction yet so I’m excited because, with the amount of time people are spending on their phones and their tablets playing games, we’ve never had our own game in that space so I’m excited to provide one finally.”
Despite what Hawk says in the interview, this won’t actually be the first Tony Hawk title available on handheld devices – since a port of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 has been available on the iTunes app store for nearly four years. That said, it will be the first game designed from the ground-up for the mobile platform – meaning that it should, at least, be somewhat of an improvement over what a 10-year old PlayStation 1 title could offer as a iOS experience.
In addition, Hawk is absolutely right that the mobile market is where the majority of gamers are – since, in addition to traditional core games, anyone who plays casual titles like Candy Crush is also considered a “gamer” and potential buyer for Hawk’s next project.
That said, it’s hard to imagine that the players who spent hours perfecting half pipe somersaults and handstand board flips in an effort to top a friend’s multi-million point score will be pleased to learn that Activision and Tony Hawk will be trading one of the series’ best characteristics (crisp controls) in favor of widespread accessibility. Even in the case that players could bypass often frustrating touch controls with an external controller peripheral, developing for a small handheld mobile device is still likely to rely heavily on accelerometer balancing, micro-transactions, and other gimmicks.
As a result, while the new Tony Hawk mobile game will, without a question, put the brand back in front of gamers (young and old) on devices that they use everyday, it’s unlikely to deliver the best or smartest gameplay experience that franchise is capable of offering. We’ll just have to wait and see what Activision and Hawk have in mind – while keeping our fingers crossed that, one day, the pair will unveil a true spiritual successor (without all the gimmicks) to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on consoles. In the meantime, fans can keep tackling the leaderboards in 2012’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD remake.
The Tony Hawk mobile game is expected to release sometime in 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.