If you were playing games with your buddies anywhere from 1999 to 2005, chances are, the
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series was in the mix. These games defined a genre, and became a cultural phenomenon. And now, after a decade of branching off in different directions, the series is returning to its roots with the newest installment from Activision and Robomodo, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5.
We recently got the chance to chat with the Birdman himself, Tony Hawk, about his involvement in the game – and what it means to come back to the series after so long.
THPS5 isn’t just a callback for nostalgia’s sake. Structurally, the game is in-line with the first four entries to the series – before the big story modes, open worlds, and peripherals were added to the mix.
“For me, it’s exciting to bring the original series and gameplay to a new generation,” Hawk told us. “It’s been 10 years since we released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, so I feel like there’s a whole new generation of people who have grown up around skating and can appreciate a new skate title. But I think that – for me – it was important to go back to the original series. It was important to keep the THPS title and gameplay, the same objectives, and the same type of feeling that people loved from our first game.”
And when you load up and play THPS5, it conveys that same feeling – the simple cleanness of the objective-driven levels, and the focus on chaining combos and racking up points. But that’s not to say that THPS5 is stuck in the past. Robomodo has worked to bring the experience to the new generation of consoles.
“Besides utilizing the architecture of the console, making the motion and graphics that much better, we’ve created an online element that we could never do before,” Hawk explained, talking about the game’s use of Create-a-Park mode, a fan favorite from the series that is seeing a return – with a lot more power behind it, and an all-new online component.
“Now, with the success of online gaming, there’s an established community – and our game will fit right in. People can create their own levels and share them online.”
Hawk went on to explain, “The whole idea is that you can create a park and invite up to 20 people from all over the world. You can create your own objectives, and challenges, or just free-skate together. Honestly, that’s a lot like real skating; people show up to parks and just feed off of each other, challenging and learning from each other. That, for me, is the most exciting part, because we’ve never had anything like that in the THPS series.”
When it comes to things that the THPS series is known for, fans can expect plenty of that, too. We’re talking stuff like being able to create your own skater, and an eclectic soundtrack (something Tony Hawk himself selects for his games) that includes everything from Death, to Atmosphere, to New Politics. And for fans of secret skaters, it’s already been revealed that Lil Wayne will be featured as an unlockable character in the game – and hints of other downloadable characters are floating around the air (though Hawk and Robomodo say they’re entirely focused on the game’s launch, for the moment).
It’s cool to see the THPS series try to capture the feeling and culture of skating, especially given the impact it ha had on skating itself. Hawk has witnessed, perhaps better than anyone, the impact that these games have had on the skating scene.
“I think that THPS raised the recognition for skating on a level we never anticipated,” Hawk told us. “It inspired some kids to start skating. Ishod Wair and David Gonzalez [two playable characters in the game] cite THPS for getting them into skating. The level of attention to skate events got that much bigger after our games came out.”
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 hits Xbox One and Xbox 360 today – and Xbox One players get special access to DLC heads from Cuphead and Sunset Overdrive that they can use to customize their skater!