Is Nostalgia Enough to Make Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 a Success?

The original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out in August 1999 and spawned a beloved franchise throughout the aughts, until like many ongoing franchises, the series met its own demise with entries into the series such as Shred and Ride. Now the franchise is trying to breath life back into this once great phenomenon that got so many kids on boards during its early era, but will it bail with another skateboarding nightmare from which we might not recover?

This time around the game isn’t going for the cheap plastic skateboard gimmick, thankfully that crappy plastic board will remain where it belongs buried in the closet or on a sale store self in GameStop. After the total demise of the once great series, it was hard to see a way back to its roots, particularly with the growing popularity of the Skate franchise. Nevertheless, Skate is laying low for the moment giving the Hawk man a chance to catch his breath and return to his Pro Skater roots. The game has been given a last minute cell shaded overhaul, as new screenshots of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 have recently arisen to show off a different graphic style. With its upcoming release in September, this seemed terribly abrupt for radical changes to be made to a core part of the game, but yet it is not unheard of in the industry.

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A radical change like this can set fans on edge who have been burned by the franchise before. The sudden visual 180 is considered to be in part from the negative reaction to its original graphical art design. “We’ve always been confident in the look we were going for, but it took a while to ensure we could maintain the framerate with this style,” said Robomodo CEO, Josh Tsui. “It was essential that the game run at 60fps at 1080p, even with 20 people skating online in the same session. We’ve achieved that, so now fans are seeing a better-looking game.” But is it really a better-looking game?

Graphics are nothing more than a minor complaint and can be overlooked as long as they don’t look like utter trash. As gamers are mainly returning to this franchise for the radical tricks and board kicks that made the series one of the greats, Pro Skater 5 looks to tap into your 2000s nostalgia with some key features that makes the franchise what it is. Players will once again be able to have the choice of select from numerous popular real world skaters or create their own and then jump into the game. The levels will predominately be based on real world locations, with each area is full of challenges and missions to complete, including the return of skating around in a level for two minutes and complete as many “Classic” goals as possible, gap jumping and obstacles to interact with as you try to gain the highest score possible as well as some new goals and power ups.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is not a reinvention of the franchise or even an unexpected mammoth leap forward with motion or VR gimmicks. Instead it feels like a return to humbler times where all you needed was a controller, a few friends, some good tunes and an innate sense to skate the day away. The focus is squarely on getting the core gameplay back and hitting that nostalgia feeling for older gamers of the series whilst remaining accessible to newcomers. On that level (on paper at least) the new installment succeeds. Now it’s time to hop on the board and see if that success kickflips over.