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Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix Review

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Developer: Shaba Games Publisher: Activision
Release Date: March 24, 2005 Also On: None

Shaba Games, the team behind Wakeboarding Unleashed and several ports of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, have taken Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 and given it a few extras that simply blow the top off of the PlayStation Portable. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix pushes all of the early performance expectations of the PSP and is one of the most valuable titles on the console in its early life. It has a few flaws, but overall, it’s simply amazing this game manages to work on such a small handheld.

The two gameplay modes from the console versions, Classic and Story, are back. This time they are accompanied by four new levels that are exclusive to the PSP. Skating around Santa Cruz, Atlanta, Kyoto, and Las Vegas is fresh and fun, while the perfected gameplay mechanics are completely intact. All of the other huge levels return, including Boston, Sydney, and New Orleans. Like before, in Classic mode, you will return to the game’s roots and try to complete a grocery list of goals in less than two minutes. In the Story mode, you’ll go on a World Destructive Tour and cause as much chaos as possible in each of the game’s levels.

While the mechanics have changed slightly to accommodate the PSP, there are a few things I am disappointed about. As a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater fan, I noticed a few adjustments had to be made in the controls. There are just too many moves in the game; they have a hard time fitting on a four-button, two-trigger scheme. For example, the right trigger initiates an Acid Drop while it also grabs onto ledges and ladders. During some parts of the game where I was forced to climb up a tall structure, I’d accidentally Acid Drop into a nearby ramp instead of grabbing onto the ledge right in front of me. This is very frustrating when it takes such a long time to scale buildings and other structures.

Also, the fetch-quest goals of both the Classic and Story modes needed to be cancelled from the PSP version of this game. Looking around each level for the five “Spat” graffiti tags or five other random objects is simply the most excruciating thing I’ve ever had to do on a tiny screen. It just doesn’t work. Squinting into the screen to search for a small graffiti tag isn’t much fun at all, and after a few of the more tedious goals, I had a hard time wanting to go to another level, fearing the possibility of more annoying goals. A problem that comes with this is the fact that anyone who has completed Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 on consoles probably won’t be enthralled with Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix. Tthe four new levels don’t make much of an incentive to complete the same tedious goals. It is basically the same thing you have already seen once before.

While these are minor complaints, they don’t hold the rest of Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix from greatness. It simply amazes me that Shaba managed to hold the game together while including all of the levels, the control scheme, and the production values. The graphics, though they weren’t amazing on consoles, are simply out-of-this-world on a handheld console. The animation for tricks is still perfect, the levels are colorful, and the cartoon-like detail fits well. The frame rate (which is absolutely crucial to this series) remains constant, even when a lot is happening on-screen. Sometimes minor glitches will appear, and the draw distance makes background objects look blurry and muddy, but the graphical package is still impressive. The music from the game has also been ported over and manages to work well while not causing the game’s frame rate to drop. I enjoyed listening to the tracks while playing, and they were just as clear as they were on my television.

I won’t say that Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix is the reason I bought my PlayStation Portable, but it is certainly one of the better games available right now. Almost everything from the console version has been faithfully ported, from the Story and Classic modes to the Create-a-Skater, Face Mapping, and Create-a-Graphic modes. It is a fun, impressive package that Tony Hawk fans should not miss out on.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 6.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 8
Written by Cliff Review Guide