Over the past three years, Activision's Tony Hawk franchise has consistently proven to be one of the best action sports series on every platform it has appeared on, which currently tallies up to eight, and each sequel has been different enough and fun enough to keep bringing players back for more. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is no exception and is probably the only Game Boy Advance game to truly usurp Tony Hawk 2.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 plays just how you'd expect Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 to play, albeit from an isometric perspective. In the single-player mode, you'll skate around different locations, completing various objectives to progress to the next level. You're given a choice of 13 real-life pro skaters, and there is also a create-a-skater option, which lets you alter the skin tone, shirt, pants, shoes, and tattoos of your skater. The objectives you'll have to complete include three different score objectives, as well as collect letters to spell the word "skate," find a hidden tape, and meet a slew of level-specific goals that range from delivering airline tickets to a family in the Airport level to grinding specific rails in the LA level, which triggers an earthquake and changes the terrain of the level. There's actually a fair amount of level interaction like this in Tony Hawk 3, though it isn't quite as deep as that found in the console versions of Tony Hawk 3. What it does offer makes the gameplay experience a bit more enjoyable. Out of the six levels in the game, two of them are competition levels, in which the objective is to score as many points as you can with as few bails as possible in the allotted time limit.
The gameplay is essentially identical to that of Tony Hawk 2 for the GBA, though there have been a few noteworthy changes. The default control configuration assigns nollies and flip tricks to the left shoulder button, grinds to the A button, jumps to the B button, and grab tricks and the revert to the right shoulder button, but it can be customized to your liking. Yes, Tony Hawk 3 features the revert, a handy maneuver used to integrate vert tricks into the middle of combos.
Unlike Tony Hawk 2 for the GBA, Tony Hawk 3 has four different multiplayer modes. Horse, the game in which each player attempts to match the previous player's trick, can be played with up to four players using a single GBA. The three link cable modes are trick attack, tag, and king of the hill. Trick attack is a simple score-based competition, while tag and king of the hill are essentially reversed versions of the same game, in which players either try to stay away from the skater who's "it" or take the crown away from the skater who's the "king." Multiplayer games have always been a staple of the Tony Hawk franchise, and the modes included here are just as fun and playable as in any other incarnations of Tony Hawk.
Tony Hawk 2 still stands as one of the sharpest-looking games for the GBA, and Tony Hawk 3 improves upon it. The game is viewed from an isometric perspective, giving you a wide overview of the level around you. The skaters are 3D polygonal models that are expertly animated and represent their console counterparts beautifully. And while the skater models in Tony Hawk 2 were textured with flat colors, in Tony Hawk 3, they have simple but effective textures that bring them just a bit closer to replicating the real thing. The levels also look great, though the isometric perspective can still sometimes be cumbersome. Vicarious Visions has smoothed out the formula a bit since Tony Hawk 2, so the view doesn't create quite as many frustrating moments.
Vicarious Visions has also done a great job of re-creating the sounds of Tony Hawk on the Game Boy Advance. All the skate sounds, from your trucks grinding a rail to the roll of your wheels over concrete, have been sampled directly from the console versions, and all the effects sound sharp. The game features a soundtrack of digital renditions of numerous songs from the Tony Hawk 3 soundtrack, though the selections are almost entirely guitar-based songs, making the soundtrack slightly less appealing if you don't like rock. The tracks are surprisingly true to the source material, but some get a bit muddled in the translation.
With the great impression that Tony Hawk 2 for the GBA made on many gamers, Vicarious Visions could have easily just thrown the Tony Hawk 3 levels into the same exact game and still have a quality title. Instead, it went the extra mile and included an improved trick system, improved graphics, multiplayer support, and a create-a-skater mode, creating an exceptional game and maintaining the Tony Hawk tradition of perpetually creating better games. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 used to be the must-own action sports game for the Game Boy Advance. Meet the new titleholder.