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Game Profile
Game Boy
Vicarious Visions
GENRE: Extreme Sports
PLAYERS:   1-4
October 24, 2002
Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Ride

Tony Hawk: Ride

More in this Series
 Written by Ilan Mejer  on December 12, 2002

Review: Vicarious Visions prepares another outing for aficionados.

It has been less than one year and a half since Vicarious Vision's stunning Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 adaptation on the fledgling Gameboy Advance was released. That game's initial success prompted Activision and VV to follow up each new console iteration of the franchise with a similar handheld version. THPS3 on the GBA succeeded in adding new technology and gameplay to the handheld version while maintaining the technical superiority of the hybrid 2D/3D engine. THPS4 on the GBA properly adapts all of the improvements, additions, and refinements from the recently released console versions into handheld form, though now the technological impact of seeing polygonal characters on isometric backgrounds has definitely worn thin.

THPS4 has all of the moves, tricks, animations, and classic gameplay that at this point you would expect it to have. VV has succeeded in all expected fronts in this game, no more so or less so than their previous efforts. THPS4 on the GBA is as much an improvement over the previous handheld games as THPS4 for the GameCube (and the PS2 and Xbox) improved over their predecessors. The spine transfer move has been implemented successfully and the gameplay and goal system is now much more open-ended due to the elimination of the two minute time limit. Put simply, this is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 on the GBA, as perfectly implemented as ever could be expected. As a single player or multi player experience, THPS4 on the GBA works.

The graphics and animation are almost identical to THPS3, with all of its faults and successes. The stages look wonderful, and the skaters themselves are perfectly motion-captured. However, the incidental animation, such as passers-by, still looked stilted and limited. As pretty as it looks, it is just as familiar, particularly to those that have played the last two games on the GBA. Likewise with the music and sound effects. Technically, they are superior to any other game of this type on the GBA. The skater sounds and grunts are clear and realistic. The music is midi synth that attempts to emulate the style of the mainstream, licensed music used in the console iterations. Again, it is all uncomfortably familiar.

Perhaps what harms the game most is the timing of its release. THPS2 and THPS3 for the GBA both launched quite a few months after their bigger console brothers did. However, this version came out only a week after the GCN, PS2, and Xbox iterations were released. Gamers had a chance to ?cool off? and develop a decent THPS crave before deciding on a handheld purchase with the previous versions. Despite its technical and technological successes, THPS4 on the GBA, now more than ever, simply fails to distinguish itself enough from both its console adaptation and its handheld predecessors.

Bottom Line
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 on the Game Boy Advance is an excellent adaptation of a game some of us are still playing on our next generation consoles. For those without another route of playing THPS4, this game cannot be faulted. However, there simply will not be enough here to convince some to revisit the experience on their GBAs. Aside from the new gameplay dynamics that came packaged in with the ?4? in the title, there is not anything substantial changed from THPS3 on the GBA which will definitely limit the title's audience.

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