Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is, quite possibly, one of the most influental video games since Doom or Street Fighter 2. It has been ported to no less than eight different platforms, has prompted two sequels, and inspired countless imitators, almost all of which use similar tricks and nearly identical controls. This is the game everyone should play before trying any other "extreme sports" title.
On the cover, all of the versions of the game have Tony Hawk at the peak of a jump, doing a trick. (The UK versions has a slightly different trick from the rest of the world.) Directly below is the oval logo, with "TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 2" in prominent white lettering. The system band, for the various console/portable versions, is on the side or top, depending on platform.
The premise is fairly simple. In Career mode (the main single-player mode), the player is given a list of goals to accomplish, and skates out into the stage, with two minutes to accomplish them. Some of these goals are simple, like grabbing the letters S-K-A-T-E, or knocking over three piles of barrels, and some are less simple, like kickflipping from roof to roof. All of the stages have three score goals, as well, each more progressively difficult. Finishing goals or picking up dollar bills floating in the air gives the player money, which can be used to buy increased stats, new tricks, better equipment, or new stages. Some stages are competitions, and the player gets three heats scored by judges, the best two of which are added together and compared to the other skaters'. Placing in the top three is worth a cash prize.
Tricks are deceptively simple, with an amazing possible variety. Doing a trick, like a grind, stall, manual, or vert trick is worth a certain amount of points. Link a trick into another one, like jumping and landing into a new grind, or doing a second trick on the same jump, not only adds the value of the two tricks together, but also doubles the total. Adding another trick adds together the total value of the tricks, and triples the total. There is no limit, other than space or the player's skill, to how many tricks can be linked together, so increased skill offers dramatically increased payoffs.
Of course, other than bragging rights, mastering the game is handy for playing head-to-head. There's a handful of modes, the simplest being Trick Attack, where both players have a certain amount of time to score the most points. More unusual are Graffiti, where players "tag" objects by doing tricks off of them (and tags can be stolen by doing higher-value tricks off of an object), and Tag, which is just like tag on the playground, only the player who is "it" can do tricks, which make the other players slower. Most popular is Horse, which is just like Horse on the playground. The players have to avoid spelling H O R S E (or whatever other word you choose). The players take turns doing tricks or trick chains. If a trick chain doesn't get a higher score than the last trick the opponent did, that player gets a letter. First with all the letters in the word loses.
The game also has a free-skate mode, which allows the player to practice without a timer in any unlocked stage, as well as a create-a-skatepark mode, which allows the player to create new parks for freeskate or head-to-head play. There was something of a community built around exchanging fan-made parks for the PSX and PC versions, although that's died down with the release of the sequels.
A handful of professional skaters' likenesses were licensed for the game. These include Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Steve Caballero, Kareem Campbell, Rune Glifberg, Eric Koston, Bucky Lasek, Rodney Mullen, Chad Muska, Andrew Reynolds, Geoff Rowley, Elissa Steamer, and Jamie Thomas. There's also the option to create a skater, with a custom skating style and appearance, and there are a handful of hidden characters, including Officer Dick, Spiderman, and Private Carrerra.
THPS2 also set the standard for soundtracks for extreme sports games. The tracklist includes...
- Blood Brothers, by Papa Roach
- Bring the Noise, by Anthrax and Public Enemy
- Guerilla Radio, by Rage Against The Machine
- Pin The Tail On The Donkey, by Naughty By Nature
- You, by Bad Religion
- When Worlds Collide, by Powerman 5000
- No Cigar, by Millencolin
- B-Boy Document, by The High And Mighty
- Cyclone, by the Dub Pistols
- May 16, by Lagwagon
- Subculture, by Styles of Beyond
- Heavy Metal Winner, by Consumed
- Evil Eye, by Fu Manchu
- Out With The Old, by Alley Life (feat. Black Planet)
- Five Lessons Learned, by the Swingin' Utters
All are radio edits, as neccessary. This soundtrack only appears in the Xbox, PSX, DC, PC, and Mac versions. The N64 soundtrack is looped chorouses, with an abbreviated tracklist, and the GBA and GBC versions have looped instrumentals.
This game has seen a variety of ports, all based on the original release for the PlayStation, although some only very loosely. The original was developed by Neversoft, and all of the variations were published by Activision. Almost all of the versions of the game are rated T by the ESRB, due to song lyrics and minor blood. These are missing in the N64, GBA, and GBC versions, so those versions are rated E.
- PlayStation - September 19, 2000 - The definitive THPS2, this version includes a Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX demo on the game disk, and was rereleased as part of the Greatest Hits series of budget rereleases.
- Windows/Macintosh - October 24, 2000 - As THPS1 was never released for the PC, included in this version were three skateparks from the first game, awarded after getting golds in competition levels.
- Game Boy Color - November 6, 2000 - Developed by Natsume, this is a side-scroller only loosely based on the original.
- Dreamcast - November 7, 2000 - This near-perfect port was executed by Treyarch.
- Game Boy Advance - May 31, 2001 - Developed by Vicarious Visions, this isometric version of the original was otherwise a very nice port, as well as being one of the big-name GBA launch titles.
- Nintendo64 - August 22, 2001 - Ported by Edge of Reality, this port was very late, but otherwise quite true to the original.
- Xbox - November 21, 2001 - Developed by Treyarch and commissioned by Microsoft as an Xbox exclusive, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x also included the levels from the original THPS, as well as several new ones. Unfortunately, since the PlayStation 2 already had THPS3 and could play the now-budget-priced PSX version of THPS2, THPS2x sold poorly.
THPS - THPS2 - THPS2x - THPS3 - THPS4 - THUG
New in this version are manual tricks, allowing for street tricks to be more easily connected, and new special tricks to be used when in jumps from ramps/half-pipes/bowls.
Sources: mobygames.com, gamefaqs.com, gamespot.com, malcster