In the era of Nintedo 64 and Playstation 1, there was one king, and one king only of skateboarding. That of course was the Bird man, Tony Hawk. Long before “Skate.” came out, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater had players shredding skate parks, building massive combos, and there was nothing else like it. Skip forward 8 iterations of the game later, and we arrive at “Tony Hawk’s RIDE”, an ambitious step towards peripheral gaming with an actual board the players could stand on. The game itself was incredibly mediocre and sub par, but I can’t help but admire the ambition set forth with trying to involve an actual skateboard. After the unfortunate commercial and critical demise of RIDE, many feared that the Tony Hawk franchise would be forever lost, in a sea of unwanted skateboard controllers. But those fears can now be put to rest, as the Hawk man is back to his roots, and shredding up classic locations from Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and 2 in this recreation “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” (THPSHD).
Anyone who has played Tony Hawk will almost instantly remember how to play. Nothing has been changed as far as controls go, and all those old lines you remember hitting will still be there. While this might be important for some, at times the controls felt loose and choppy. THPS 1 is over 10 years old now, and the controls feel like it. Animations can vary from smooth and beautiful, to choppy and awkward, which at times is very off putting. Manuals that are used to chain combos can sometimes be dropped for seemingly no reason, as the animation for landing correctly in manual is the same as not landing correctly in manual. It takes some getting used to, but after a few sessions, I was hitting up 200,000 point combos like butter, and that is when the warm, nostalgic feeling of Tony Hawk came to life.
A mix of levels from Tony Hawk 1 and 2 are available, including fan favorites like School II, The Hangar, The Warehouse, and my all time favorite, The Mall. Just like the old games, there are a set of tasks for each level to be completed. In order to unlock new locations, each skater must complete at least 4 of the assigned tasks. These include things like finding the letters of SKATE, scoring over a certain amount of points, finding hidden objects, and special tasks that apply only to that level. There are 7 level’s to unlock in total.
While the controls may have been left unchanged, the graphics have been given a total overhaul. THPSHD looks great, and has transitioned nicely into this generations graphical curve. The detail and polish put in to level’s, shows that new developer Robomodo, truly cares about the franchise and wants to do it justice. They even made secured tracks like Goldfinger’s “Superman”, and Powerman 5000′s “When World’s Collide”, to make sure this truly felt like the old Tony Hawk games. The soundtrack can wear thin rather quickly however, as there are only 14 tracks, and many of them play back to back.
New additions to the game have greatly improved what used to be frustrating. The perfectionists will be pleased as getting to that 100% is now much more clear. A map is now at the ready, showing locations of objectives, collectibles, and a layout of the level. After reaching 100%, new objectives are unlocked, called “Projectives”. These new “projectives” are insanely hard tasks that will challenge even the greatest of Tony Hawk players, and gives the game great replay value.
Online matches is where all of the multiplayer for THPSHD takes place. Most of the nostalgia I personally have wrapped up in this game comes from destroying friends that were sitting right next to me, and the fact that split screen is not an option, left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. That’s not to be said there is no fun to be had, as beating your online buddies in graffiti, trick attack, and new mode Big Head Elimination, is a great time. All of the levels are available to choose from the get go in Multiplayer, and leaderboards for each are there for players to compete against each other.
Overall, this game shows that sometimes old can in fact be new. Although the controls feel dated, the feeling of 90′s nostalgia is everywhere, and it is a relief to see the Bird man return to his roots. Robomodo have done Neversoft justice, and returned the Hawk man to glory. Although not everything we had hoped would be included is, the thought of future levels and modes through DLC already has us excited. Old school Tony Hawk fans rejoice, the Bird Man is back and better than ever.
MSRP: $14.99 (1200 Microsoft Points)
Available On: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Games today have a problem. They will coddle you. The interface will tell you what to do, where to go, and how to get there. A map is given to players to show them exactly where they are and what they are doing at all times. At times, it feels like us gamer’s are watching events unfold, instead of unfolding them ourselves. It’s with this that I am happy to report that Spelunky is a true homage to what gaming used to be. A standout title in this man-baby ridden tutorial snooze fest. Spelunky is a dirty, mischievous, and painstakingly difficult platformer, and I loved every minute of the punishment.
The hook in Spelunky, is something that very few games offer. It is infinitely replayable, due to the fact that every level is randomly generated. You will never play the same level twice. This adds a layer of challenge to the game, as there is no way to memorize how to get out safely. Players get one life, with four hits, and that is it. The enemies are plentiful and vast in numbers, and all have the intent of not letting you get to the door at the end. Everything is thrown at the player to make sure that he/she is not victorious. Throw in the fact there are no checkpoints, and you have one challenging game.
Players control an unnamed character, known only as the Spelunker. The Spelunker makes their way through levels, finding treasure, making pathways, and rescuing damsels in distress for extra health (or dogs in distress if dames aren’t your thing). You are given a whip to attack enemies with, but you can just jump on their heads to finish them off. Other random items will be laying around the levels, such as rocks and skulls, for the Spelunker to throw at enemies and set off traps. And at the beginning of the game, the Spelunker is given a limited supply of bombs and ropes to traverse the terrain how you see fit, or get you out of being stuck. Crates are scattered randomly through out levels to resupply your items, but ultimately you will be limited.
To help players traverse levels, NPC’s (non-playable characters) offer their services. First is the shopkeeper; a man who sells items to the Spelunker in exchange for money. There are a wide variety of items he sells that not only make movement easier, but getting rid of enemies easier as well. These include jet packs, shotguns, freeze rays, bomb paste, and many more. Spelunkers trade gold and gems for items, so make sure to pick up every sparkly object you see. There is another way to get items free, but don’t expect the shopkeeper to sit by and do nothing! Second is “Tunnel Man”. He will build a shortcut at the end of a zone. These shortcuts have requirements though, and getting them isn’t a walk in the park. Each time you complete a zone (a set of 4 levels), the Tunnel man will ask you for supplies to help build a shortcut. If your out of the supply he needs, then you just move on, making no progress on your shortcuts.
If spelunking caves alone seems like too big of a challenge, players can jump into co-op mode. This mode is for up to 4 Spelunkers, all working together to get to the end. While it unfortunately doesn’t currently support Xbox LIVE, having a friend by your side can be the best way to get past a level you couldn’t manage alone. Of course, for those of you who can’t stand to work together, there is a Deathmatch mode. This mode pits up to 4-players against each other, and is incredibly hectic. Bombs flying everywhere, guns being shot, you name it, it’s happening. These frantic matches will have you and your friends jumping and screaming in no time.
Overall, while Spelunky is challenging, it is never unfair. Not once did I feel that it was the games fault for me dying. There is always a safe way to traverse the level. NPC’s help make the journey easier, and friends make the journey even more hectic. The fact that no level will ever be the same gives this game a huge replay value. Pro’s will be able to complete the entire game in under 10 minutes, and Newbies will be playing for days. Spelunky is truly unique and charming, and we here at B-Sides loved every minute of it.
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15)
BONUS!: Download the original Spelunky for windows for FREE here
Dutch electronic music trio Noisia has composed the music for the video game DmC Devil May Cry, which is due out January 2013. The game(check out the trailer below) is set in a contemporary world setting where DmC Devil May Cry re-imagines the original story of Dante, the brash protagonist of the Devil May Cry series. The group has been involved with the project for over a year and their efforts will be heard during the title’s cinematics and gameplay, including combat. Noisia is no stranger to soundtrack work in the gaming world, having provided their track “Groundhog” on DJ Hero; “Machine Gun” and “Seven Stitches” featured in three editions of the game WipEout; and “Stigma” and “Yellow Brick” featured on Gran Turismo. They were also commissioned to make eight remixes especially for MotorStorm: Apocalypse.
The electronic group stated, “It’s been an awesome experience working with Ninja Theory on the game. We had great freedom but were also bound by certain criteria typical in the game world. These are challenging boundaries (for example; consistency in sonics over 180 minutes of music) but also lots of space in terms of dynamics & progression and instrumentation, being able to create soundscapes without having to worry about holding the attention of a dancefloor.”
Check out a sample track of Noisia’s DmC Devil May Cry:
Noisia will also tour across the U.S. on the Identity Festival this summer where they’ll join Eric Prydz, Excision and more.
Catch Noisia on the Identity Festival this summer:
DATE CITY VENUE
7/26 Mansfield, MA Comcast Center
7/28 Wantagh, NY Jones Beach
7/29 Philadelphia, PA Penns’ Landing
8/2 Atlanta, GA Aarons Amphitheater
8/3 Tampa, FL 1-800 Ask Gary Amphitheater
8/4 Miami, FL Klipsch Amphitheater @ Bayfront
8/17 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheater
8/18 San Diego, CA Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
8/19 Phoenix, AZ Pavilion Amphitheatre
Check out the trailer for Devil May Cry(still in development):
X Games 2012 went down this past weekend, June 28-July 1, which was a little earlier than in previous years, but the athletes still brought their A-game to the event. [..]