By: Roger Taylor
In 1998, almost no one outside of the skateboarding world knew
who Tony Hawk was. These days, he is a household name. While some of
the credit for his recent rise to fame is due to his amazing tricks
and stunts that have caused public interest, most of the credit must
be given to one game: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Released for the
Playstation in 1999, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was an instant
classic, and arguably the first skateboarding game worth purchasing
since the NES title Skate or Die. The game was ported to almost
every platform imaginable and was followed by a sequel. Tony Hawk’s
Pro Skater 2 improved on the original in a few ways, but without
introducing too many new features.
Expect the same from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (THPS3) for
GameCube. The levels are all new, the music is different, the
graphics are improved, and a new type of move called
"revert" has been introduced, but basically this is the
same game as before. That’s not a bad thing.
Choose a boarder. Grab a skateboard. Skate around and pull off
the best, most spectacular tricks you can without falling down to
score points. THPS3 is a great game to play when you don’t feel
like thinking. The spectacularly done GameCube controls help ensure
that you don’t even need to think the first time you pick up the
game. The oversized A button makes you ollie; the B button does flip
moves; the X button does grab moves; the Y button makes your skater
grind; and the L and R buttons are used for turning faster in the
air. Holding down A speeds you up, and holding back slows you down
and stops you. The camera and directions sticks are pretty
straightforward. The controls in Tony Hawk could not be better. Even
without prior knowledge of how the game works, you should be able to
pull off the simplest moves immediately after picking up the
However, long combos and complicated moves can be a bit trickier,
and will take more practice. And I do mean long combos. Tony
Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is not a realistic interpretation of
skateboarding. After playing the game for about one week now I have
accomplished combos that last as long as 30 tricks in a row. Any
professional or amateur skateboarder will tell you that some of the
things you will see in this game are flat out impossible (grinding a
telephone wire anyone?), but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
Ever wanted to skate in Rio de Janeiro? How about Tokyo? Or in an
airport? All these locations and more are available for your skating
pleasure in THPS3. The levels are the biggest of any Tony Hawk game
yet. For example, there is an enormous skate park in the Canada
level that would have been large enough to be a level all its own,
but it takes up just a third or so of the entire environment.
If you were disappoint by the level editor in the second game in
the series, you will be happy to hear that you can now make very
customizable, very specific, very awesome skate parks, very easily.
The create-a-skater has also been improved, especially with the
addition of female skaters.
One of the main selling points of the games in the Tony Hawk
series over the years have been their outstanding soundtracks. THPS3
only improves on that point, with fairly recent stuff from Alien Ant
Farm and Del the Funky Homosapien (of Gorillaz fame), mixed in with
some classic tracks from the likes of the Ramones and Motorhead. The
soundtrack features hard rock, punk and rap, so it should have
something to satisfy most (those who buy skateboarding games,
anyway). The sound effects are good, but they do seem off
occasionally. Then again, how in the heck was Neversoft supposed to
get an effect that sounds like grinding on a tree?
The graphics in THPS3 are what you’d expect from a
first-generation GameCube title. They are a step up from previous
Tony Hawk titles, with smoother character models, and a lot more
going on in the environments (be prepared to be hit by cars). The
graphics are good, but not particularly impressive, thanks to a lack
of detail in many spots. That is excusable because of the size and
scope of the levels, the nearly perfect animation and the smooth
If you’re looking for a game that will give you a lot of play
for your money, look no further than THPS3. The career mode will
take a lot of gaming to beat, unless you are a vet of the series, in
which case you should breeze through it. But even if you are, the
secrets, 2-player mode and flat-out fun gameplay should keep you
coming back for more long after the purchase.
levels with lots to do.
but not frustrating gameplay.
- Simply fun to
- May be too
easy for those who own THPS1 or 2.
If you have
never owned either of the first two games, or were a huge fan of
both, you have no excuse not to own this game. If you are a
fan of the series who can manage to live without this one, I would
recommend it, since Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 should be out
before too long, and maybe that will have the huge leaps forward for
the genre that this game lacks.