In the two years since the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater appeared on the PlayStation, the series has proven to be nothing but adaptable. Save for the two initial misfires on the Game Boy Color, every other incarnation of Tony Hawk, including the Game Boy Advance version, has remained true to the gameplay style and general look and feel of the series. Now, Edge of Reality has ported Tony Hawk 2 to the N64, and while it may not be the most graphically impressive version of the game, it is faithful to the series and manages to be the best skateboarding game for the N64.
Thanks to an adept porting job by Edge of Reality, fans of any other version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 will feel right at home with the N64 version. The song remains the same; pick one of a dozen or so real-life professional skaters or use the create-a-skater feature to brew up your own personalized skater and skate your way through the game's eight sprawling levels. There are 10 goals in each level, and completing these goals enables you to buy new decks and tricks, as well as upgrade your skater's stats. Some of the goals are standard throughout the game, like attaining certain scores or collecting floating letters to spell the word "skate." Each level also has level-specific goals, which can range from doing an ollie over a dozing bum to grinding your way down a length of subway track. There are also several two-player modes, including skate versions of the schoolyard staples Horse and tag, a graffiti mode in which you mark objects throughout the level by performing tricks off them, as well as the score-based trick attack mode. The gameplay is as tight as in any other rendition of Tony Hawk 2, the timing is pitch-perfect, and using the D-pad, the shoulder buttons, and the C-diamond to control your skater is just as amazingly fluid and intuitive as in previous versions.
The N64 may arguably have more polygon-crunching prowess than the PlayStation, but the visuals in this port of Tony Hawk 2 are just slightly less stunning than its PlayStation counterpart. Crisp polygons have been replaced with the telltale fuzz of an N64 game, the textures are lower resolution and generally look more washed out than in the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions, and the draw-in distance is slightly closer in some of the game's larger levels, though this rarely interferes with the gameplay. Still, when held up against the original Tony Hawk on the N64, the whole affair has been cleaned up significantly.
The game's soundtrack has been trimmed slightly, though the inclusion of six full-length songs from groups such as Rage Against the Machine, Dub Pistols, and Powerman 5000 is an admirable feat nonetheless. The game's menagerie of skating sounds and ambient background noise remain intact, though the compression necessary to cram all this data into a cartridge takes away slightly from the sound's clarity. But considering the relatively low capacity of an N64 cartridge, the sheer amount of sound in Tony Hawk 2 is impressive.
If you have already played through Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on the PlayStation or Dreamcast and are looking to rediscover this incredible game, you are better off doing it on either of those consoles. However, for N64 owners, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 represents nothing less than the best skateboarding game the system has to offer.