The Incredible Dream
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater created the skateboarding genre for video games. The first few games performed well, but saw a decline after Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. It was not until 2014, when OlliOlli revived the skateboarding genre and gave me hope.
“If I had to pinpoint one tipping point, from skateboarding being underground to truly mainstream… it was probably the release of our video game in 1999. That brought a lot of attention to the skating world because of its success, and it inspired a lot of new kids to try to skate. But, it also made people appreciate skating that maybe would never do it themselves, and understand the intricacies and difficulties of it.”
– Tony Hawk; from an interview conducted by CNBC
The Great Beginning
My much younger self knew what skateboarding was, but I was never truly interested in it until the first Tony Hawk video game was released in 1999. I remember the first time I played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It was not the full game, but a demo. I was still in my Nintendo stage and only had a GameBoy, Super Nintendo and Sega at the time. My family could not afford a Playstation, so I had to rely on the nearest mall, a friend’s house, or even Sears to play any games from that console.
I remember playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater at my good friend’s house who lived down the block from me. My friend did not own the full game, so we played a demo disc from Pizza Hut that only had one level. That one level entertained us for hours. We loved trying to beat each others scores, bail in the most painful ways, and try to discover all of the interesting tricks.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was released August 31, 1999 on the Playstation. I did not own the full game until December 25, 2000. That day changed gaming for me since it was the day I received both my Nintendo 64 and the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game. I remember hooking it up to our old television and being blown away by the graphics at the time. I spent hours beyond hours trying to beat the entire game and perfect my skills along the way. I remember my favorite skater was Chad Muska; partially because he could do a frontflip, 360 shove-it rewind, and he wore a backpack.
I continued to play the Tony Hawk skateboarding series for as long as I could handle it. I remember that I rented Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 often, but I never owned the game. When the GameCube came out and I saw Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, I knew I had to have that game. The third game was easily the best in the series based on graphics, music, and crazy level designs. Since I did not own many GameCube games, I played this third installment non-stop (along with Super Smash Bros. Melee).
The Abysmal Fall
After Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, I lost interest in the series. I must have been in high school around the time they released the next few Tony Hawk games, but I thought they were all rehashed from the older ones. I did rent Tony Hawk’s Project 8 and perfected that game, as I did other Tony Hawk games, but it was not as fun. It felt bland with nothing new added to the series. When Tony Hawk: Shred released, I knew the skateboarding genre for video games was over. Who wanted to do fake tricks on a skateboard controller? Not only that, but a new competitor with superb controls, Skate, was on the market (which was fun, but still not the same). It would be years until I played another skateboarding game.
The Eternal Rise
Back in 2014, I gave OlliOlli a try. The tutorials were simple enough, but the game did not make a big enough impression to keep me interested. Skip to 2015. I am looking through my Steam library and found OlliOlli once again. After I started the game up, I learned how to fully comprehend this amazing indie skateboarding game.
OlliOlli is like the brilliant lovechild of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and a 2D platformer. Its fast-paced gameplay has 27 unique tricks and 11 smooth grinds. The developer, Roll7, created a game that surprised everyone, and it gave those who loved the Tony Hawk series hope for the future of skateboarding games.
The difference with this game compared to other skateboarding games is the fact that you must click a button when you land. If you land sloppy, you get less points and the combo is broken. The point of the game is to get through each level with a high score while completing the challenges. It sounds simple enough, and that is what makes this game work.
The levels get harder the longer you play. You may see three flights of stairs and a few grinding posts in the first levels, but by the end, you will find neon spikes, grindable helicopters, and random beachgoers impeding your progress. By the last levels, the chaos may be too much for some, but your confidence will build as you progress through the game. One tip that I did not find out until the end of the game is that when you are about to grind, you need to hit the same button as if you land to get an even bigger score and faster grind.
The Reputable Future
Roll7 is hard at work making OlliOlli 2. This is one of my most anticipated indie games since I want to see what new features crazy level designs they might have. Word is that Tony Hawk is working on another game for consoles, which has me pretty excited as well. Skateboarding games have provided a ton of entertainment for me and I hope that the new generation of gamers can appreciate skateboarding like I do, thanks to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series.