Archive for the Tony Hawk Series Category

Tony Hawk Games

Posted in Blog, Games, Tony Hawk Series on January 9, 2017 by slateman

For many years the Tony Hawk franchise of videogames was part of me and my everyday life. Sadly, it’s not the case any more. And in light of losing an entire HDD full of 20 years of history, I was refreshed to see what wasn’t lost. One such item was this graphic I made way back in 2007. It was one of the rare times I was featured on the likes of Insert Credit (RIP) and maybe even Kotaku. I figured I’d update these as well as toss some new info over on the Hawk History page which merely serves as a catalogue for the now-defunct and often-painfully-remembered PlanetTonyHawk. In any event, here are the two graphics from a decade ago replete with the wonderfully-titled updated games Ride, Shred, Motion, Vert and THPS HD and THPS5. It’s funny. I forgot about the latter’s existence. Hard to believe I and those I know, who were all faithfully intertwined in the shaping of Hawk history, haven’t ever even touched Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. Perhaps I’m glorifying out involvement, but it just shows how far the series fell. Sad, really. Anyways…visuals…

The Top 8 Best Gaming Series

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, DoDon Pachi, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Tony Hawk Series, Uncharted, Ys on January 24, 2016 by slateman

best-series
Another long-brewing article, I pondered this for quite some time. Why not put together a best gaming series article? Good question! Now that vacancy is now filled! Let’s not wait. Article start!

There are a few games that missed this list, some better than others, but honorable mention goes out to:

  • Mega Man
  • Tony Hawk
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Gears Of War
  • God Of War
  • Tomb Raider
  • Ys

With those out of the way, let’s start with number eight!

Castlevania_logo_color
#8: Castlevania (1987 – Present)
This series has been quiet as of late. With just two titles issued in the past half-decade, it’s safe to say we’re in a lull. However, from 2001 until 2008, we saw about ten solid Castlevania games, and this is after the classic trio and subsequent rejuvenation with Symphony Of The Night. And what spectacular titles those are! The first game was a great start, the second a stumble that at the time I loved and memorized and the third was the pinnacle of platforming back in ’89. SotN remains in my top-whatever list of games, and the music alone can transport me back to ’97 and where I was in my life.

The handheld titles that followed each trumped the last and some of those I played more than once. I even liked Lords of Shadow and its handheld quasi-sequel. Last year’s second installment was quite the opposite. I hated that one. Some rather dismal Castlevania games aside, there are easily a dozen top-notch games to replay as we wait
for another renaissance of Dracula and the Belmont clan!

Zelda_Logo.svg
#7: Zelda (1987 – Present)
Everybody knows Zelda, Link and of the rich history of games relating to them. The problem with Zelda is that moving backwards, I can’t say love any recent titles other than 2013’s 3DS game and maybe the Minish Cap from 2004. I wasn’t a fan of the GC or Wii titles and I never played Majora’s Mask. So, two portable games since 1998? It should go without saying that I’m excited about this year’s Wii U game.

Of course the original, the SNES game and Ocarina were all perfect 10s. I didn’t get an NES until around when the SNES came out, but I remember playing the first Zelda game, completing the second quest…bombing every single inch of the map in order to find the last dungeon’s location. A Link To The Past? Ocarina Of Time? Nothing needs to be said about those titles. But while I love me some Zelda, the series hasn’t wowed me in quite a while, thus putting it at a shockingly-low number seven on this list.

uncharted_logo
#6: Uncharted (2007 – 2016) (R.I.P.)
I played the demo for the first game and wasn’t impressed. But upon playing the full game, I realized that Naughty Dog had crafted a special 3rd-person shooter that coupled solid gameplay with excellent storytelling and likable characters. I obtained three platinum trophies in 2011. Uncharted, Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3. I liked the games that much. And the portable game was surprisingly-fun as well. There’s not much to be said about this franchise that hasn’t been mulled over by countless others. I don’t quite know if UC4 can possibly live up to its predecessors and it’s rather sad the series will be done after part 4. Will it still be as memorable a decade from now when other developers are making the umpteenth version of the same game? *shrug*. But Nathan Drake sure had a good run!

Do_Don_Pachi_Japan
#5: DoDonPachi (1995 – 2012)(R.I.P.?)
Some series tout diversity but with shmups, it’s not quite so easy to discern. The outsider would recognize no true difference between Daifukkatsu and Sai-Dai-Ou-Jou. In fact, their names alone might confuse. However, to the dedicated player, those two titles are night-and-day different. While I can pass on Don Pachi, DDP and three of its four sequels are the pinnacle of the genre. Cave supported the scene until its dying breath and even put out a remarkable home port to make the goodbye ever bittersweet. And while DFK and SDOJ were fun and amazing titles, DOJ remains the best shmup ever made. The recent surprise IOS release (Ichimen Banchou) may breathe hope into the franchise, but I won’t hold my breath. DDP is that good.

top_title-logo
#4: Resident Evil (1996 – Present)
Some franchises have a handful of main games, but not RE. We have 1-6, which I’ve played all but the third. There are the Revelations games, Zero, the Chronicles and Gun Survivor games, etc. and this doesn’t include remakes, movies, CG movies and remasters of 1, 4, 0 and 2 coming up.

Therefore, with a pool of so many games, surely there will be some great ones, right? Obviously but the good games are damn good. I positively loved going through the HD remaster of RE1. I played through RE4 on no fewer than four consoles (GC, PS2, Wii, PS3). RE5 I platinumed on the PS3 and also beat on the Xbox360. RE6 was bloated, but the good in that game was quality. Too bad there was so much excess.

The remaster of 2002’s RE0 is an entertaining romp (it’s so strange to think that 2002 is 14 years ago. It’s a classic era in a sense.) With the re-make of RE2 and the inevitable RE7 on the horizon, I don’t see a shortage any time soon. I liked the survival horror of the first games and the action-based nature of the recent ones. Despite a number of iffy titles, the diversity and sheer quality of the great games lands this at #4 on my list.

logo-sf
Street Fighter (1987 – Present)
I played SF in the arcade, then later as Fighting Street on the TurboDuo in the late ’80s.
I vividly remember seeing SFII for the first time at the mall arcade on Long Island in ’92.
I recall SFIII (and sucking at it) but still giving it a go while at some flea market down in Florida in ’99.
SFZ was my favorite; I played the first in the mall in Albany, then SFZ2 at the same mall mentioned earlier on Long Island. (’95-’96) I imported SFZ3 from Japan the day it was released.
SFEX was shipped to me, along with the cool Chun-Li shirt, and I played it incessantly while my girlfriend was in Florida in October of ’98.

I really could go on and on, as every entry is special and so very unique, all while retaining the necessary familiarity. My story continues with the Vs. series, spin-offs, SFIV, web sites I’ve run, countless art books and the like. And this isn’t even discussing the gameplay. It set the standard with SFII, it reinvigorated the scene with SFIV and I’ll be a day-one purchaser of SFV when it ships next month, more than 25 years after I started playing this series. It is the king, its characters iconic, its music memorable and it’s easily in my top-three favorite franchises ever. Not a question. The real downside is that I’m not particularly good at it. But that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it for most of my life. And as I write this (before SFV is released), I’m not entirely sure this doesn’t belong at #2 on this list…..

Metal_Gear_Solid_logo
#2: Metal Gear Solid (1998 – 2015)(R.I.P.)
I’m eschewing the first Metal Gear games as I never played them and it’s only truly when MGS shipped in ’98 that the series became so iconic. And here’s the thing: MGS, MGS2, MGS3, MGS4, MGS:PW and MGSV are almost all so totally different from one another. Each has a unique purpose, statement, gameplay innovation or take on stealth that makes no one better than another. It’s also worthy of note that other than MGS2 and MGS3 both being PS2 games, every title appeared on a different generation of hardware. Kojima always wanted to do more and more and finally with MGSV, he accomplished his goals and ended his involvement in the series.

And for a person who isn’t the greatest at stealth games, this series brought me across 50 years of a convoluted history and kept me compelled to keep playing, despite my lackluster ability. Having gone back to replay some titles, I was no less amazed on subsequent playthroughs. MGS4 was my GotY in 2008, MGS5 in 2014. They were emotional and fun, powerful and silly. Kojima’s attention to detail cannot be overstated. Masterpiece after masterpiece, any new MGS sans Kojima will be lacking that special touch. Thus, 1998 – 2015, and #2 on this list.

Super_Mario_Logo
#1: Super Mario Bros. (1985 – Present)
If the grandeur of MGS cannot be overstated, then surely Mario can be. Everyone knows of him, and every game gets great scores. However, this is no conspiracy. While the golden years of gaming had a long string of amazing Mario games, even recent years have been consistently excellent. I once ranked the Mario games stopping around 2008 but the newer titles stand up with those others. As Super Mario Bros. 3 still sits atop the best-games-ever list, there are easily another half-dozen games featuring the plumber on the top 25. From the Galaxy games to the New SMB titles to the 3D World games…Shigeru Miyamoto has produced the single greatest series in gaming history with one of the most iconic characters in all of media. No new Mario games will come out in 2015, but whenever a new title comes out, I will be in line to get it. Why? The one-word review of Mario and the reason it’s the greatest ever? Fun. I could continue with ingenious and tricky and comment about replayability but the end result is a fun game each time (well, I hated Sunshine) and the noble title of:

Best.Franchise.Ever

What To Play: 2015 Edition

Posted in Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Tony Hawk Series, Uncharted on March 1, 2015 by slateman

Maybe I’ve hit a wall. Turning 40 next year and it’s starting to feel like a lot of the things in life I’m passionate about are all becoming…the same. I recall a few years back hearing about this TV show about zombies. A TV show about zombies?!?! Now…season five? Games, movies, TV – so many are feeling awfully predictable and ‘been there, done that’. Even the predictability of some things are predictable. I wonder. Is this normal? Is it my age showing rather than the stagnation of media?

Whatever the case, this wasn’t meant to be a gripe session. Although my expectations for games are still high, they are still realistic, knowing what I might (and might not) get. Here are some titles I’m looking forward to in 2015. Let’s see if they can live up to the hype, their predecessors or if perhaps they exceed them!

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
U4_E3_1920x1080I didn’t get the first Uncharted right away. Who knows why…but once I did grab it, I was sold. This game (well, #2) may be my favorite game of the last generation and for good reason. It is everything I love about gaming. Rock-solid gameplay is coupled with good storytelling and a fun plot. While I feel #3 was rushed, #2 is just stellar. So…where do we go? If it’s everything I expect, it’ll be great. But…will Naughty Dog surprise us with more than just the predictable? I feel they will. They’ll keep all that I love – the shooting, jumping, climbing…but after The Last Of Us, I have a feeling they won’t settle for just more of the same. This is a pre-order, day #1 purchase. I can think of no reason for it not to be.

Psyched Level: 11/10

The Legend Of Zelda

Zelda Wii UOK, here’s all I care about: Standard Controls. I really couldn’t care less about any other element of this game because it will be classic. I just simply cannot stand swinging my goddamn hands around NOT killing that stupid spider because I’m not swinging properly. A huge, seamless world allowing us to adventure wherever with our trusty Epona? Sign me up, take my cash and don’t get too gimmicky. The Wii U screen should be a map, my TV an open adventure of joy and delight.

Bonus Perks: I can play this with my kids. In fact, they’ll probably love it.

Street Fighter V
SFV: Nash!The ’80s

That’s when I started playing both Zelda and Street Fighter. I got caught sneaking across the highway to play arcade games when the pizza place (and the Chinese-food place and the deli…) had an arcade machine and this one was Street Fighter. Fast forward a few decades and I’ve never NOT played Street Fighter. And I’m old and I’m slow and I’m no damn good at the games (well, not very) but I don’t care. SFV will have a pre-order beta program, it’s coming out on the one next-gen system I do have (eff you Tomb Raider) and I wants. My cash is waiting. So is my website.

# of SF Games That Exist: Shut Up – Don’t Care – STREET FIGHTER FIVE!!!

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

MGSVI struggle with this one. I’ve already written about the glory and perfect end of MGS4. It truly wrapped everything up and was it. Done. Perfect. Much like The Last Of Us and God Of War 3, no sequel is necessary. But here we are and I’m a sucker for MGS so I don’t know what to say. I’m keeping my expectations low. Ground Zeroes was OK. It just bothers me that we’re opening this whole can of worms and I fear anything less than perfection will mar the entire MGS mythos. Fine, that’s pompous and absurd but damnit MGS4 finished it! Ah, whatever.

Buy Or Rent??? – Grrr…See, I’m the sucker they make these games for.

No Man’s Sky
No Man's SkyRandomly-generated worlds? Meh. I figured that’s how I’d feel when I played Rogue Legacy and I was wrong. And that’s just a simple dungeon crawler. You mean, entire worlds are unique and different and…wait for it…maybe unpredictable? Not only does that fly in the face of Uncharted #4, Zelda #200 and Street Fighter #&infin…Not only does that fly in the face of all that I complained about in my opening paragraph…No, it also looks to represent all the universe is founded on. I can’t even envision what other worlds might look like and…that’s the point! OK, way too deep there. This game has a good chance of being boring as shit. How will this run? How will it even play? Is it even really a game? *hrmph*

Chance Of Being Cool: Still Processing Mathematics

Just Cause 3

Just Cause 3This is another title I didn’t get into initially. When JC2 was free on PS+ I tested it out. An hour in, I was hooked (heh, pun). I’ll keep this brief. JC3 could be essentially the same as #2 and I’d love it. It’s one of those titles. Latching onto helicopters and flying around with parachutes just about ruined me for other action games for six months. This one will look better and I just hope they don’t try to do anything stupid to the fun and ludicrous gameplay. I’m on board!

The Only Problem: Too Many Games – May GameFly this

Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Rise Of The Tomb RaiderI’m a hypocrite, I know. Street Fighter V is OK, but Tomb Raider is not? Fortunately, I’m fairly certain this title will come out on the PS4 eventually. It’s gotta suck being an Xbox fan and knowing you’ll literally never get SFV. That sucks for everyone. In any event, I won’t be playing this game in 2015 but after it was my Game Of The Year in 2013, I can’t wait for the sequel.

Can It Be Better Than UC4? Good question!

Noteworthy Titles

Mighty No. 9 – A spiritual Megaman successor? OK!
Ratchet & Clank Reboot – Don’t need to say much, I’m game!
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Not a 2015 game but I never played it, so a New 3DS + this sounds great!
Resident Evil / RE: Revelations 2 – Both came out already and I’m enjoying them…they count!
Final Fantasy XV – Not sure if I will even try…The hype for this one will be huge!
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Return? – We’ll see. It’ll be hard to genuinely entice me.

Well, there you have it. That’s a long article that no one will read but hey, we’ll see if my predictions were any good. Now that I’ve written this whole lot, I’m kinda excited about 2015 after all! Screw this predictability nonsense. I’m psyched!!!

THPSHD Revert Pack

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal, Reflection, Tony Hawk Series on January 19, 2013 by slateman

THPS-3-HD-Revert-Pack-DLC-logo

I’m a month and a half late to the game but I’m going to come right out and say it doesn’t matter.

Playing through the THPS3HD Revert Pack was bittersweet around every corner. Every element of my game time had that tinge of sad nostalgia. See, THPS3 came out in the autumn of 2001 and it remains my least favorite of the main Tony Hawk titles. That’s saying a lot, considering there were so many. Then add the fact that my beloved Hawk site Planet Tony Hawk is now dead. Finally, as I tried to get online and couldn’t find an available game, it all hit me hard. That ‘news’ that was evident to the world years ago…Hawk Games, gaming, my entire life – they’re not quite what they used to be.

Ah, there he goes being overly-dramatic again! No, screw that. THPS 3 is the worst Hawk title and I knew it, even back when I started making money off the whole deal. I had a good ride but something changed when Hawk 3 came and every one of us who played it back in ’99-’00 knew it. See, THPS 3 was when things really started getting rushed. In order to make the PS2’s launch, in order to have THPS 4 on shelves in the autumn of 2002, in order to keep the train moving. Let’s not forget the third game appeared on nine different platforms. They money train was going and nothing was going to stop it. Now, the masses ate this shit up which kept things going, which effectively diminished the quality. So…when I boot up a game and play the Airport as a level…it doesn’t bring happy nostalgia.

thpshd_hetfieldAnyways, what do we get with the revert pack? Reverts! L.A., Canada & the Airport! Two new pro skaters & two novelty skaters! Well, for $5, that’s actually pretty good – and contrary to early reports, you can use reverts in the original THPSHD levels. As for skaters, Steve Caballero & Geoff Rowley appear and both are welcome. Rowley was in the first five Hawk games and I loved having Cab in the game. As for the other two skaters? James Hetfield! It must be great skating as him! I mean, he was a skater during the mid-80s and he busted his arm twice while doing so. Robert Trujillo is less interesting, but hey, it’s Metallica. The problem is that I’ve already beaten career mode and have zero interest in doing it again.

As for the levels, I positively hate them. All three were revisited back in THUG2 and they’re no different here. I don’t know – I think they look terrible. OK, that’s strong, but with this HD facelift, I expected things to look…better!

Finally, the revert. It was the redefining element of THPS 3 and I think that’s where problems started. While THPS 4’s spine transfers were a smaller, yet more realistic upgrade, the revert was just madness. What started with ingenuity in THPS and THPS 2 now became utter absurdity. Combos went on forever and pre-planned lines effectively reduced my creativity to a button mash-fest with balance. As I skated through the airport today, it was the same. It was 2001 all over again and for me, it wasn’t a good thing.

As an overall package it feels like it lacks the shine we all grew accustomed to in those heyday years. I may groan over THPS 3 vs other titles but it was packed with hidden areas, cheats, skaters, etc. This DLC doesn’t have any new trophies/achievements and it does a poor job of telling you precisely what you’re getting.

But listen…the DLC costs $5 and while I don’t know stats, I’m sure it’s sold a decent amount. I can’t really complain about the DLC as much as the source content. What once was a huge part of my life is now relegated to disappointment. While I went back to THPSHD a fair number of times this summer, I don’t feel much of a beckon now. I think it’d be cool to see a THPS 4 DLC with spine transfers, Kona, London? Moscow? Hmm…maybe not. THPS 4 also came with vehicles, more skitching…Hmmm. I don’t know what I want – maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s time for me to retire from Hawk gaming for a little while. A long while, sad as that might be.

Planet Tony Hawk: Closed…Done…Forever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal, Reflection, Tony Hawk Series on September 13, 2012 by slateman

Back in 1999 I started what would become the largest Tony Hawk-related gaming site in the world. I would peak at over a million hits a week. I created no fewer than 400 pages of articles, previews, reviews, guides, tutorials, images, videos and editorials about Tony Hawk, his line of games, his skating, and everything in between. It was my baby (along with Crumbling Flesh). It opened doors for me to go to California several times a year, meet new friends, make connections, grow personally and professionally and to meet Hawk multiple times. I had a good run. I had a damn good run.

So, when Skate came out after seven years of annual Hawk games, something was ready to give. Another entry got some good scores but that was the beginning of the decline. We saw Activision scramble to make a pair of peripheral-required games, a motion game on the NDS, numerous mobile titles and a new download-only game. The heyday is over. It has been for a while, but today was my eye opener.

As I received Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD a few weeks ago, I was psyched to get back to the site. I wrote a new FAQ, started making updates to my awesome Hawk History article and got ready to do some catch up. The problem was, I couldn’t log in. My email stopped working. No one would reply to my requests. I had that inspiration and it was burning bright. It felt like it did back in the old days. Gap lists for THPS. Stat icon locations in THPS3. My empassioned slagging of THAW. Even when it was bad, it was oh-so-good. I poured my heart into this site and I was tremendously excited to continue that devoted dedication.

Today I received an email saying that all Planet sites were archived and no updates would ever be made to them again. Wait…What? Yep. Archived. Closed. Done.

Wait…WHAT?!?! Apparently someone dropped the ball because I never got an email. Even in the midst of all the crap mail I get, I never came across a message saying, “Hey, your site, you know, the one you have worked on for 13 years of your life…yeah, that one. Well, it’s going to be closing.” I never got the opportunity to say, “Goodbye.” Just one day, it was inaccessible. Two weeks of emails and waiting yielded the news. “Gone. Closed. Forever.”

First of many meetings – NYC 2001

I interrupted the writing of this article to put my kids to bed. I held my son and rocked him to sleep, feeling his hands clench and relax on my shoulder as he dozed. Is this a big deal? Listen, my four kids have their health. I have a job. It is just a game and it really wasn’t my baby; my baby boy is my baby. This post is not to whine about how I’ve been wronged but rather to rue the loss of control over something special.

It is a premature and unexpected ending of a massive 13-year journey. It is painful to know I had no say in its fate. The money ran dry years ago but that excitement of updating something you’re so proud of remained…until I realized I could no longer share that passion.

Planet Tony Hawk was the source of great happiness and pride. It allowed me to do so much, see so many things and go so many places. I enjoyed almost every minute of it. It’s been a great ride. For anyone who took part in that adventure, you know what I’m talking about. And today, I’m done with that journey forever.

THPSHD: FAQ Posted

Posted in Blog, Borderlands, Games, Guides, Resident Evil, Tony Hawk Series with tags , on September 1, 2012 by slateman

The days of THPS are long gone, but with the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, I have to admit an excitement about the Hawk series not felt for the better part of a decade. Now, let’s not be hasty here, this isn’t pee-your-pants excitement like I’m feeling for Borderlands 2 and Resident Evil 6. Just sayin’. Anyways, I got a review copy of the game for both the PS3 and the Xbox360 and have gone through it mostly with the former. Of course, given my history with the game, I had to write a guide for it! Thus, we have my new THPSHD FAQ. I love writing guides so this was fun. Kinda looking forward to the THPS3 DLC.