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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

Review By: Adrian V.

Developer:   Vicarious Visions
Publisher:   Activision
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Skateboarding
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   8-30-01

It’s tiny.

So everyone’s oohing and aahing over the new Gameboy Advance. With good reason, to be sure, but the fact remains that the launch titles were, shall we say, ‘malnourished’. Of course, I didn’t know this for a while. My first game, Mario, was pretty cool, and obviously beyond what my other Gameboy could handle. It took me more than a few joy-filled hours to realize that I had already played this game back when it was called Super Mario All-Stars, and it had not one, but two extra games in it that, unlike this edition’s original Mario Bros., didn’t suck. Maybe being able to hear Mario and Luigi grunt every ten seconds threw me off.

I then tried that GT racing game. I’m not going to bother locating and firing the neurons that will access the actual name of that one, since Driver on my Gameboy Color makes – whatever it’s called– it’s whiny, sniveling bitch. Even with the overhead perspective.

Things were not looking good.

Then I found myself staring at the boxes for Tony Hawk and Super Dodge Ball. Decisions, decisions. I won’t bore you with the litany of arguments, counter-arguments and rationalizations my brain went through, but I will say two things; one- you can probably guess which of the two I ended up with, and, two- not once were the synapses holding the name of the aforementioned racing game disturbed from their slumber.

As for Tony Hawk 2? How in the name of the Holy Mother of Creation did they fit this game into my palm? There are many things I can think of that I would like to have in my palm at any given moment, but no more. Now there’s only room for the Hawk. Let’s set aside the upgradeable skaters, leave for later the myriad tricks to purchase and master, and look past the insane number of grinds and gaps to be discovered. How am I able to control that tiny little guy (or girl, relax...) so well? Sure it was a bit tricky at first, but the ‘at first’ lasted maybe an hour, and I was completely unaware I had even existed for that hour, so entranced was I by the endless stream of objectives and skateable areas.

Okay, so it’s streamlined, since there are only four buttons to use. But even so, the depth offered by the console versions was sacrificed by almost inconsequential degrees, and that’s saying a lot. Sure, you may want to drive around goofy tracks or wield undead-slaying whips when possible, but grabbing twenty feet of air to hook a grind on a rooftop lip before leaping to a rear-wheel manual ending with a lofty half-pipe encounter is something you just can’t compare.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, features. I’ll hit my favorites first.

Gap Checklist- This alone makes Tony the number one choice for your first GBA purchase. Hidden in the game (in plain sight) are 156 different gaps to be jumped or grinds to be, well, ground. In plain sight because they’re right there, in every level, just waiting for you to locate and skate them. Impressive because many of them are less than obvious, and they force you to attempt skating everything you see, rather than just hitting the half-pipes and a few rails to satisfy the minimum score objectives.

We shan’t forget the option to upgrade not only your skater of choice, but every skater in the game on a single game save. Since each skater has to complete all the objectives individually, you have a minimum of thirteen runs through the game, if you can possibly stand the strain on your personal relationships.

But here’s the true beauty of Tony Hawk 2 on the GBA; at any time, anywhere, you can turn it on and burn a handful of otherwise empty minutes snagging a few objectives. You can build up Muska, and then decide you want to see how someone oriented towards vert skating handles the New York Streets. Or you can spend time perfecting your glorious, endless trick. There are so many hours of gaming literally at your fingertips, it boggles the mind.

With all this tightly packed genius, it makes the few problems to be found that much more painful.

First of all, the isometric perspective can be difficult to deal with. Even after many, many, many hours logged, I still have trouble going vertical on any ramp that makes me look at my skater from behind. As well, the characters are very detailed, but for all their detail, they’re still less than an inch tall. This can sometimes make it difficult to determine where your board is when landing a trick. Finally, some people may not want to endlessly achieve random skating objectives, and need more of a ‘plot’ to their gaming. There’s nothing wrong with that, those people just need to leave the ten-sided dice at home once in a while.

That was a joke.

Sort of.

For the rest of you, if you own a Gameboy Advance and Tony Hawk 2 is not among the titles you possess for it, this review is your final warning before the Gaming Gestapo pays you a ‘little visit’.

You have been warned.


  • Amazing graphics.
  • Loads of objectives.
  • Battery save.
  • Phenomenal depth in a handheld, rivaling many console games.


  • Perspective can be tricky.
  • Occasionally difficult to land a trick because the board is obscured by either the skater or by getting lost while looking ‘through’ an obstruction. (The game makes anything blocking your view of the skater translucent, not clear, so the colors can sometimes fudge things.)

Final Verdict:

Own it. Period.

Overall Score: 9.1

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