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Tony Hawk 2

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Activision
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:

When I think of Tony Hawk and videogames, I think of killer graphics and gameplay, along with a second-to-none engine driving some sick skateboard action on the big consoles. Maybe for this reason, it's an especially big challenge bringing Tony Hawk 2 to Game Boy Color, but the hurdle of graphics is cleared rather well this time around. The two different 'looks' for levels in Tony Hawk 2 are Street and Vert, the former being a top-down perspective and the latter being a side view. For Game Boy Color, I really found Vert easiest to work with, and the most fun. The trick animations, which are actually really good, look pretty weak from a top-down view. Only from the side are all the combos and jumps fully appreciated, but props to Activision for including Street to add variety. All the menus, character and board screens look nice, with plenty of definition and good design. Workin' that small screen! Most of the sounds come from grinding and jumps, but the music is cool. Heavy-hitting skateboard tunes don't translate all that well to GBC, but the music chosen is funky and fun.

Gameplay:

Including all the modes and depth Tony Hawk 2 has for consoles isn't as easy as putting together a good looking game screen. Especially because there's nothing more than password for storing progress, you only have a choice between two modes. Free Skate is really just a practice mode, and helps you get the feel of each level without being pressed for time or worrying about points. Especially when one objective or level is giving you trouble, Free Skate is a nice way to build up skill.

Career Mode is really the mode. After you've worked up some decent skills in Free Skate, it's time to pick a pro and enter competition. Apart from Tony himself, Tony Hawk 2 includes 13 big pros you'll recognize if you have even a passing interest in the sport. Starting off in Career, you have a Super Generic board and miles of rep to earn. Each level has a series of objectives, some consistent and some unique. Each objective gives you a dollar reward that you can use to purchase new (much needed) equipment. Gathering the letters S-K-A-T-E is always an objective, and other goals include hitting tricks, grinding objects or gathering items for points. Not only do these goals help you upgrade your board, they also earn pictures of the pros in action that you can look at or print out with a GBC printer. Passwords can also be printed out, which is a smart feature. Returning to Career Mode is easy with the password entry, and replaying levels is always essential until you clear all objectives.

Making the grade is about mastering tricks and learning each level cold. Tony Hawk 2 has a good arsenal of tricks, although it's a shame there aren't more complicated combinations. Yeah, it's possible to string tricks together, but unique moves and tricks are few and far between. Each pro has a special, and is also rated for speed, acceleration, control and ollie. Free Skate gives you the chance to check each rider out, but upgrades to your board can make a huge difference. Things like better control and bigger air tend to be more about the board than the rider, but depending on how you want to rack up points, pick riders carefully. Points come from straight tricks, number of tricks done in sequence and grinding objects.


Difficulty:

In general, Tony Hawk 2 isn't hard, but I found the Street levels frustrating in control and design. Somehow, the third-person perspective found on a big console just doesn't trickle down to GBC, and after putting in some time playing, I would have preferred more Vert to Street. Also, there isn't a huge challenge in mastering the tricks for these riders, since there's not a huge number of tricks. Combos are okay, but anybody looking for the depth Tony Hawk 2 is known for on other platforms will be disappointed.

Game Mechanics:

Especially in the Vert levels, pulling off tricks is simple and well managed. It can sometimes seem like you're doing nothing but jumping and grinding, but Tony Hawk 2 measures the end of a sequence as when you hit the ground. So, stringing tricks together is key, and especially tricks of different kinds. Working the same trick over and over again will give you a decent score, but the road to being completely money is joining different tricks and trying to stay original.

The A-Button works as a jump or ollie button, and (B) handles braking. Especially in Street levels, you'll spend a lot of time braking and trying to line up jumps, but both (A) and (B) double as trick buttons. After a jump, either by ollie or in the halfpipe, holding a direction and (A) will pull off a trick. Doing the same thing with (B) results in special grinds, and you can imagine throwing a few different jump, grab and grind moves together. Points follow from tricks, and many times one objective in a Career Mode level is just to hit a certain number of points. After the points are totalled, you walk away with cash and can visit the Skate Shop to look over boards. Nailing objectives without running out of time is often hard, but Tony Hawk 2 lets you go back in and keep trying to knock off one goal after another. After you take a top score with one of the Pro's, you can launch in with another, and presumably manage all the passwords generated while you work your way up through the ranks with different characters.

As a good-looking skateboard game with some decent gameplay, Tony Hawk 2 fits well on GBC, but lack of depth will make it more interesting for die-hard skaters and fans of console skating games than casual gamers looking for something engaging. There's nothing wrong here, but the experience is way short of the heights Tony Hawk reached elsewhere.


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

GameBoy Color/Pocket Titus the Fox GameBoy Color/Pocket Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour

 
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