Jun 25, 2009

The Ride has Ended

1999. The year I was introduced to the art of skateboarding. One of my friends had bought Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the PlayStation. I was blown away by the half pipe in the first level. I spent hours there trying to land a 1080. The series was in a league of it's own, and proved it's dominance by releasing a new Tony Hawk game every fall.

As each Tony Hawk game was released the formula started to become stale. I stuck with the series until Tony Hawk Underground 2. I returned to it for Tony Hawk's Project 8 because it was the first one that was ready for the new generation in my opinion. While I enjoyed the better graphics and the faster loading times, the game had felt like it had run out of ideas a long time ago. That became apparent in Tony Hawk's Proving Ground. This game included missions where you have to knock out bullies by running them over with your skateboard. Not a lot of fun if you ask me. It's sad because you would think that on the year where they had some real competition, Activision would at least try to show that they wanted to win.

EA released the game Skate in September 2007. a month later Activision releases Tony Hawk's Proving Ground. Tony Hawk's series gave mainstream appeal to skateboarding games. Skate capitalized on that by making skating more realistic. Tony Hawk always had an arcade approach to skateboarding where it valued landing ridiculous tricks and the high score, while Skate values the simulated experience of skateboarding.

With Skate being the new king of skateboarding games, Tony Hawk went back to the drawing board. They didn't release a new game in the fall of 2008 which had some people wondering if the franchise was done. Not at all as Tony Hawk: Ride is due to be released November 17, 2009. They decided to go the route of the Nintendo Wii and add motion sensing to the series. A new skateboard peripheral is used instead of a regular control which raises the price of the game to an estimated $119.99.

I'm starting to think Tony Hawk is out of touch with gamers. I understand the craze about motion sensing right now, but motion sensing up to this point has been directed more toward the casual audience. The casual audience is the biggest group of consumers right now for the gaming industry, and if sales are all you care about over making a good game then good luck with that one. If Tony Hawk: Ride is aimed toward the casual audience then way to turn your back on the die hard fans who helped keep the series alive...
and what's up with adding a skateboarding peripheral? Did the success of all of the Guitar Hero games make Activision think that is exactly what the Tony Hawk series needed? If I wanted to skate I would go outside, ride a skateboard, bust my ass, and go back in the house. If this peripheral makes me fall and get hurt, it better be fun. The higher price tag is not the way to go for a game trying to make a comeback these days. Maybe Tony Hawk should retire happy at the fact that his series led the way for something new and fresh.