Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 GBA
From a scale 1 through 10:
The graphics are excellent and are quite good for a handheld. While they can obviously be nowhere near the quality of the Playstation version, they are way better than the Gameboy Color version. The GBC version was mediocre and used a password system instead of saving it to the system. THPS2 on GBA uses a save feature that saves your progress when you choose to, and it is like the save system from the console systems. It does save the file to the actual cartridge though, so you wont need any kind of passwords. It works very well and finally has gotten rid of the cumbersome password system.
The environments are also almost as big as the levels in the other versions, so it makes the game feel more like its not a portable and more of a true console game. There is one major complaint though that brings the score down a little bit. Despite the fact that all the characters from the other versions are available to choose from there isnt much difference between how the characters look. This means you may not be able to tell if youre playing as Tony Hawk or Chad Muska if you randomly picked characters. Its not that big of a deal, but it hurts the game a little bit.
The sound is a bit weak also compared to other games, and the GBA should be able to handle a good soundtrack. Other games on the system have proven this to many gamers, so this is why the soundtrack in THPS2 seems so primitive. While the characters still sound fine when an accident occurs (although their arent as chances to get into accidents as their was in the PSX version), but the rocking soundtrack is gone because of the fact that the GBA probably cant handle it. However, the GBA should still be able to handle a pretty decent soundtrack because of its speakers. Unfortunately, it seems that all they left were a few rock/hip hop tracks that dont seem to change from level to level. Although the tracks do change from course to course, they are so similar that it seems like they dont change. It is very disappointing, but many people may not care that much about it. However, with the GBAs sound capabilities the soundtrack should have been much better.
The gameplay is the best part of THPS2 and is what makes it one of the best handheld games. While the GBA only has four buttons and a D-Pad, the game handles this disadvantage perfectly. Each button is for a different type of tricks, (grinds etc.) and works great. It also uses the Playstation interface where you do a different trick depending on the directional button that is pressed. It is pretty hard to do multi-trick combos. While it may take a few runs to get the hang of it, in no time youll have it down. This is great for people who are new to Tony Hawk, because they can easily get into the game. The game also includes a few bonus levels from the first THPS, which is a great bonus and adds more depth to the Career Mode. These bonus levels also make the game have more levels than its console counterparts. This more than makes up for the lack of modes from the console version.
The game uses tapes like the first one, and it also feels a lot like the first version of the game on Playstation. The game isnt able to include the Create-A-Skater or Create-A-Park but it still does really well despite these minor setbacks. Almost all the secrets from the Playstation version are packed in, plus some of the level goals are different. It works very well, and thats what makes Tony Hawk such a playable and fun game. While it cant include a good two-player mode, the replay value makes up for it.
While THPS2 lacks some of the things that made its Playstation and Dreamcast games incredible, the GBA version is still one of the best games for the system and a worthy purchase. Activision has once again created a great game and proved that skating boarding games are what the company does best. Dont miss this excellent handheld version of Tony Hawk that is truly superb. It truly exceeds all the previous handheld versions of the game. This game will keep GBA owners entertained for months to come, and will stay one of the best handheld games for a long time.
Review by dragonryu