Back in the days, when things were simple when speaking about playing video games- There weren’t any online profiles to set up, no install or update wait times before playing the game of your choice, it was simple- just pop in the disk and hit power. Sweet, and simple, and there was just enough time wolf down the last of your bowl of cereal, and toss the bowl to the side, hoping the milk didn’t splash out onto the carpet. Those days were sweet, and even though things have changed in many ways, we still have our memories of them.
One of those very memories from the golden eras of gaming is one that holds a very special part in my heart, the old cult-classic Tony Hawk Pro Skater games. Never really being much of a successful skateboarder in real life, THPS (of THPS2 and THPS3 to be exact) was a way for kids like myself to be just as cool as real life skate boarders- or at least virtually.
The gritty feeling levels, the crashing impact of a failed trick, complete with blood, and the constant pressure of time ticking away- Tony Hawk Pro Skater was for most of us as close to the real deal as we would get. Don’t get me wrong, I could always appreciate the hobby, or lifestyle for some, I could just never get past the simple foot paddling along in the nearby library lobby.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater was great because not only did it allow you to finally be able to preform all of the tricks you as a kid were envious at not being able to do, it also made it possible to preform them in the most roided-out beefed-up, completely impossible way possible. Sure, that sentence might not make since logically, but neither did preforming manuals into thirteen spin and kick flip trips off of a simple courtyard rail, and then back to a manual- and off a ledge and performing 1080 degree grab tricks before landing face first on the ground, but that was the best part.
Often times, it became a great competition between friends, and family to see who could preform the most tricks without falling- and I would have to say that I was pretty impressive back in my day. It became an intense rhythm of timing, and balance in order to complete the most tricks in the time limit and max out the highest score for the level. You could literately spend half a day, eat a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, go to pee really quick, and then spend the rest of the day playing THPS. Completely lost in the realm of being a fictional skateboarding freak we were.
It wasn’t simply the core gameplay and mechanics that made THPS great, it was a variety of things. For starters, the freaking skater editing system, which allowed you to be able to create your own personality of skater and dress them in any crazy fashion that you could imagine; that was one of the most fun parts for myself. Plus, the game had it’s own culture, one adapted from the skate culture complete with some realistic- if only slightly exaggerated- level designs, and also its own signature style of soundtrack to pull off kick-flips to. Not to mention, in those moments you were feeling especially creative- the level editor allowed you to create any death-traply, nonfunctional skate park you wanted, complete with spikes and the completely unskateable pool of lava.
All of these things combine create a memory, and a piece of childhood that left a lasting effect on me. It reminds me of days when life was simpler, priority for rent money was replaced by the priority for burger, and milkshake money, with just enough left for a small fry. A time where games and just having fun took up most of your time.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater, thanks for the memories.
What about your memories of THPS?