Vicarious Visions does it again. THPS3, like its predecessor, is in a league of its own.
Could I possibly want to play any more Tony Hawk? After clearing every goal with every character in the console version of THPS2, and playing THPS3 for GameCube (although not quite as rabidly), I can definitely answer that question with a yes. There’s just something about the THPS series that draws me. In the case of THPS3 for GBA, the attraction is less because I’m not a serious portable gamer. I tend to play my GBA in my home, so I prefer 2D games that don’t exist on other systems. That said, THPS3 is still a marvelous game, and it comes highly recommended for portable gamers who need an extreme sports fix.
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the GBA version of THPS2, so I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed how much different the levels are in the GBA version of THPS3. You’ll see vaguely familiar graphics, but the configurations of the six levels are very different, and a lot of the objectives are as well. Furthermore, you’ll find that some objectives change depending on whether you’ve chosen a vert or street skater. Nice. THPS3 controls much like its console brethren, yet it’s much more difficult to aim your skater off of a ramp at times. Still, you tend to adjust to the limitations of the fixed camera. Another problem is gauging the height of your surroundings. This can be overcome by trial and error along with careful attention to the spot shadows cast by floating items.
Graphically the game is quite beautiful. THPS3 is using the latest version of the THPS2 engine. The 3D rendered skater is back in full force and looks just as stunning as ever. The levels are visually diverse and make good use of their tile sets. The best thing is that if you’re having trouble finding good light, you can adjust the brightness in-game, making things a good deal easier to see (at the expense of color depth, which degrades the graphics slightly). Ideally, you should find a good light source, but if you can’t, just crank up the brightness and keep on skating. The sounds definitely lose a bit of crispness and variety when moved to the GBA, but they’re still effective as ever.
The only multiplayer game I was able to sample was Horse. This game is turn based and can be played with a single GBA. The idea is basically to perform a series of tricks that score big points. Then the next player tries to beat it and so on. The first player to fail gets an “H” and the game continues. Whoever completes “Horse” is out. The last remaining contestant wins. You can even change the word from horse to whatever juvenile utterance you desire. The multiplayer modes that I can’t play also sound interesting even if “Tag” and “Crown” are kind of similar. There’s also the traditional trick attack and multiplayer free skating.
Most of you know by now if you enjoy Tony Hawk games. On that note, you can rest assured that THPS3 is different enough from the console version to warrant a second purchase for your portable library. If you haven’t played a Tony Hawk game, give them a shot. You shan’t be disappointed.