The sequel to the game that inspired a slew of copycats is bringing its amazing skateboarding gameplay to the Game Boy Advance. And while previous Game Boy games in the series strayed from the formula of the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on the Game Boy Advance is amazingly true to the series. We had the opportunity to give to the game a spin and were quite impressed.
The GBA version of the game is set up almost exactly like the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions. All the modes from those versions are in the Game Boy Advance game, with the exception of the skate-park creator and the create-a-skater mode. You'll be able to choose from the career mode, the single session mode, the free skate mode, and the game's multiplayer modes. The career mode takes you through the career of a professional skater, and it has you completing specific tasks in each level to unlock more levels and improve your skater's stats. The single session mode allows you to skate any level under the same time limit applied in the career mode, and the free skate mode allows you to skate any level without any time restrictions. The game has all the skaters from the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions of the game, including Tony Hawk, Bucky Lasek, and Chad Muska. Additionally, all the levels from those versions have been re-created for the GBA version, meaning you'll be able to skate in New York, Rio De Janeiro, and Marseilles.
Tony Hawk on the GBA plays a little differently than you're used to. Instead of a behind-the-back perspective, the game now sports a top-down isometric view of the level. The levels are all rendered using 3D polygons, and the effect looks fantastic. All the levels play and feel just like the levels in the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions of the game. Your skater is actually a 3D model consisting of more than 300 polygons. The skater moves and animates extremely well, and it really looks amazing on the 3D backgrounds. Because of the GBA's limited number of buttons, the game uses a slightly different control scheme. You control your skater using the D-pad, and you use the B button to ollie and the A button to grind on surfaces. The right shoulder button performs grab tricks, and the left shoulder button performs kick tricks. This new scheme takes a little while to get used to, and even after a considerable amount of time with the game, we still had a hard time performing kick tricks effectively. Additionally, the isometric view makes it difficult to line up certain rails and jumps, and it even makes gauging when to jump on some ramps difficult. Still, playing the game is amazingly true to the console versions, and it even brings back some memories of 720°.
The sound effects in the game are simply fabulous. The game uses the much of the same music from the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions, though the licensed tracks have now been turned into instrumentals and shortened a bit. Still, it's easy to identify certain songs, and the music certainly adds to the whole atmosphere of the game. The sound effects are right there beside it. The GBA version features the same sound effects as the console versions, down to the bail noises and different ramp noises.
Even with its difficult control, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is easily the most impressive Game Boy Advance game we've seen so far. It features exceptional graphics and sound, and it's amazingly true to the series. The game will hit store shelves at the US launch of the GBA.