Before we grinded for XP, we grinded in the parks.
1999. It was a time of entertainment bliss.
Sure, I was only three years old at the time but let’s not beat around the bush. In a year where movies were thriving, with a string of releases that are arguably hard to rival, there was another boom happening in our homes. Admit it, you knew someone or maybe had acquired a Playstation 1 console that MAYBE was enabled to use ‘’chipped’’ games. Your best pal would rock up to your house for a signature mum’s dinner of chips and fish fingers (bread on the side if you’re a good boy) before you ran off in excitement upstairs to mash the square button for those sweet kickflips.
Neversoft had been trying to get a skateboarding game off the ground behind the scenes, using the character model for Bruce Willis from their Armageddon game as a template. I’m serious. Brucey boy was heel flipping long before you were trying to blast it playing Trick Attack mode. As soon as a stable build of the game was on the horizon, Neversoft knew they needed to get a stamp of authenticity on the development. Enter the man himself: Tony Hawk.
Having carved a name for himself on the competition circuit, Hawk agreed to aid the production of the then-untitled game. Other skating alumni were brought in on the recommendation of Hawk to add more layers of approval.
There had been other attempts to bring the art of skateboarding to gaming, with mixed results. Skitchin, Top Skater and California Games all attempted to bring about the euphoria of grip tape induced momentum. I have fond memories of playing a beaten up copy of Skitchin on my brother’s old Genesis back when local multiplayer and gaming was a thing of normality. The advent of online multiplayer has radicalised how we digest and interact with the gaming experience; however, your couch will always be the original hotspot.
When the PlayStation 1 entered our household, the gateway to crazy trick lines and shenanigans was unlocked. Surely Pro Skater should be in the record books for the number of damn BANGERS the soundtrack possessed?
- Evenrude – Vilified
- Goldfinger – Superman
- The Vandals – Euro Barge
- Primus – Jerry Was A Racecar Driver
Those four picks alone fueled the hours on end that this game would give us. Catch me down at School trying to hit up those pesky tables or find me in the Warehouse honing my air tricks. Apparent from the start, the Pro Skater series was always going to be about offering the player with variety and choice (albeit limited at first). While objective based gameplay was the meat and gravy of the franchise, to begin with, the approach to these objectives would open up as time went on. The stellar showcase of levels that were on display are clearly a labour of pure, wholesome passion with an emphasis on propulsion. Keep those wheels rolling, any way you can.
Choice wasn’t just an applicable statement to the gameplay either. A host of pro skaters and characters were ready for hitting the parks; at least if your friend didn’t claim them first. Oh, you picked Bucky Lasek? No bother, feel the heat as Officer Dick shreds the halfpipe.
Looking back on Pro Skater is an interesting one since we’ve had fan proclaimed ‘’Hawk Killer’’ franchise Skate. appear on the scene and disappear despite it reinventing the genre to huge success. Admittedly, Skate 2 could take the cake for being my favourite skating game (rivalled only by Tony Hawk’s Underground). Pro Skater hits home with me because of its still seamless experience of speed, skill and fun. Twenty years later and losing at Horse will still keep you up at night.
IF YOU LIKE TONY HAWK’S PRO SKATER, WATCH THESE:
LORDS OF DOGTOWN
VIDEO DAYS (SHORT FILM)
MINDING THE GAP
THE SKATEBOARD KID (it’s a special experience)