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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
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Game Profile
Game Boy
Valve Software
GENRE: Extreme Sports
June 11, 2001
Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Ride

Tony Hawk: Ride

More in this Series
 Written by Alan Rumpf  on May 25, 2001

First Impressions: Advancing our relationship with Tony to my pants...pocket.

Perhaps the most anticipated title for Game Boy Advance at launch is not a Nintendo first party gem, but a game from the now well-established Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series published by Activision. The THPS franchise, is the now the best-known skating franchise of all time for video game consoles. The original title and its sequel THPS 2, both had very large success selling to the masses, and with good cause. The gameplay and control was the best in any skate boarding game to date. The game balanced fun filled levels, and insane tricks and combos, with just enough realism to make the series one of the best of the current gaming era. Now Vicarious Visions has taken the developer's role, to ?port? this series over to the GBA. Bear in mind that the GBA is not a 3D system, so a direct port would be impossible, however what VV has accomplished is very impressive so far.

Compared to the bad taste that THPS for GBC left in gamer's mouths, the GBA version of THPS 2 should be a fresh blast of Binaca. VV has taken the character data from the Playstation/Dreamcast versions and shrunk it all down to a GBA sized bite. Each of the characters are rendered in 3-D using 300 polygons. While in the case of next-gen console gaming we often talk about millions of polygons, on the GBA's small screen the characters will look very appealing and probably a lot better than people are expecting.

The biggest change from the console version of THPS 2 to the handheld is the fixed perspective. All of the skateparks have been pre-rendered at a fixed camera perspective. (If you look at the screens you will see what this perspective is.) This means that no longer will the camera be directly behind the skater, and while it may take time to become adjusted to the different angles/slopes/etc. , gamers should get use to it after a few hours of gameplay.

That being said, the GBA title should be very similar to the console versions of THPS 2. There are six levels included, The Hanger, School Yard, Marseilles France, New York, Skate Street, and the Warehouse. The first five should be recognizable as levels in THPS 2, and the Warehouse is the now infamous love of all THPS gamers from the first series. There should be almost all of the same objectives as the console versions, collect the S-K-A-T-E tape, knock over trash cans, grind certain rails, collect certain items, and score a certain amount of points.

Speaking of scoring points, while it may take awhile to get use to the new perspective, gamers should be pulling off 100,000 point combos in no time. It's pretty obvious the GBA only has four action buttons, and here is the scheme: A and B are jump and grind, L and R are flip and grab tricks, and the directional pad moves and spins your player, while also selecting the tricks you do. While some gamers may miss the use of shoulder buttons to spin, it is not a necessity in any way. Again, another example of an aspect that may take awhile to get use to, but will probably work out well when that time comes.

Of course due to storage capacity and the GBA's hardware, the licensed music that we all know and perhaps some of us love, is gone. However, it will be replaced with original catchy tunes to skate too. All the trademarked sound effects should turn up as well. Although, when gamers are playing in school or in the car, audio may not even be an option. The create-a-skater and create-a-skatepark features will understandably not be available, and sadly there will be no multiplayer link support. This is probably due to time and storage capacity limitations.

Final Thoughts
This looks to be the must have GBA game at launch. It is one of the titles I have already pre-sold for launch, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. I'm a huge fan of the original series, and I want to see just how well the portable version stands up to its predecessors. I am a little disappointed about the multiplayer situation, however THPS 3 is coming up and if THPS 2 for GBA sells well, Vicarious Visions will no doubt be contracted to do the sequel. Then we may perhaps be blessed with a multiplayer mode and even more features.

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