Many people get their first board (including me) and it also saw the return to life of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2+, a long-deceased titan of skateboarding video games. Tony’s return was brilliant, but there are a new team running the virtual skate parks. Pro Skater’s punk rock music was a huge hit in the 2000s and saw a lot of kids get their first boards. Those kids are now all adults, and some of them are still able to take their unique shots at the sport. Sam Eng, creator of the amazing Skate Story, said, “I have always loved skating but I didn’t have the self-esteem as a child to skate outside of Tony Hawks Pro Skater on PS1.” “I now use my skateboard as my main mode of transportation around the city. Although I am not an expert, I spend a lot time on the skateboard and can perform a few basic tricks. “Eng’s take on skating would not follow THPS. Skate Story is a reinterpretation of EA’s Skate or its spiritual successors, Skater XL and Session. They’re low-angle and have analogue controls that try to recreate the feeling of riding a board better than Tony Hawk’s gravity defying combos.
Skate Story is basically my fanart for skateboarding. Skating is a wonderful experience. I have so many feelings that I want to share that it’s hard to describe them all. The feeling of flow is my favorite part. The gradient between grit, glide and other textures. Feeling like you are carving smooth lines on a clean, new sidewalk. The sound of blasting through a subway grate made from metal. It’s a whole-body experience to discover the subtle differences in asphalt flavors. It’s something I have come to appreciate more since getting my own skateboard last year. I love to try out a local ledge grind or flatground trick, and then take that approach to Session when it rains. Eng says, “It’s like discovering fire.” Fire is dangerous. However, it is worth pushing through the fire and learning how to keep yourself safe from the flames. This is my favorite part about skateboarding.
Arcade shredding is still a necessity. Megan Fox, a Skatebird developer from Glass Bottom Games, tells me that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 has been a huge success. This shows that there is still a strong market for old-fashioned combo-chaining. The difference is that these pros are small, cute birds.
“Skate, Skater XL, etc. Fox says that all of these sims are better and more accurate representations of how a board responds to and moves. Although this is nice, it means that you lose some of THPS’s high-flying antics and control schemes are more complicated. Skatebird may not be able to capture the intricate details of landing a kickflip using both feet. Skatebird, like Pro Skater, loves the feeling of momentum when he or she whips a board around a park. “Inertia and weight, the speed of jumping onto a ramp, zooming out. The technical side of bird movement is difficult to convey, but they can. “Vert is a style that emphasizes stunting off huge halfpipes. It’s the one aspect of skating that the games industry has neglected. The vert style has fallen out of fashion over the past decade, probably due to the fear of falling from a 10ft high platform. However, Hawk’s games didn’t overlook the fact that Birdman was more about riding pipes than parks. Paul Schnepf is working on The Ramp to correct that. The Ramp is a half-pipe almost like a toy that aims to recreate the “incomparable flow” and rhythm of riding vert. There are many great skateboarding games, such as EA’s Skate series and Skater XL and Session. However, they all focus on street skating. I have always wanted a game that truly reflected the joy of vert. This is what I hope to capture in my game to allow people to feel the magic of skating vert.
Pro Skater was once the only way to map skateboarding to videogames. We’re now seeing an incredible variety in the way games approach skating, thanks to more developers. We’ve barely touched Ollie Ollie’s amazing side-scrolling lines. This is also a reflection of a larger shift in skateboarding culture. Pro Skater 20 years later feels like a time capsule. It was a time when skating was seen as loud and angry. Later entries were essentially Bam Margera’s gross-out vehicles. In recent years, however, the scene has become more accessible and popular than ever. New Yorker Eng says that cities are becoming more accepting of skateboarders and less likely to chase them from street corners. My perception of skateboarding as a child was that it was an extreme sport, perhaps reserved for extroverts or delinquents who shoplift. It’s difficult to pinpoint, especially because it’s so individual and varied. It feels more homey.”
Skating games once sounded like Green Day’s Dookie. Now they have cute skatebirds and chillhop beats. Or (in Eng’s instance) experimental indie-pop. Andrew Schimmel, Skate City producer, says that there is a new renaissance of skate games. There are remasters and indies as well as newly announced titles. I see dads out there riding their electric longboards to work and a new generation of kids excited about skating video games. It’s amazing to see and we are excited about the future of the sport and video games. Skate Story was a particularly haunting and otherworldly trailer. I was already out looking for a skateboard before the trailer had even been released. This is a bold departure from anything we have ever seen in games, but it’s very close to Eng’s relationship with skating. “I was raised in NYC so there wasn’t much natural beauty around. The night city can still feel like a natural paradise to me. I think of how others might feel when they are hiking or in forests.
“When you skate during an endless night, you are acutely aware that there is a special kind of atmosphere that sweats from concrete. This is a different atmosphere. You will find your new home at the 24 hour deli. Every rat is a cutie. Your skateboard feels effortlessly loud. You have the option to smash your skateboard against concrete or glide along the lights. You just feel like you could do a little trick. You do it and it’s a big deal. Big publishers are starting to pay more attention. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 last year was amazing, and any rumour that Activision might remaster 3 (the greatest, don’t misunderstand me) is making me giddy. EA finally revealed plans for Skate 4, after years of waiting. Skateboarding is so many things, so many people. Skating is intimate, personal, and sometimes painful. Skating is also a social activity with a bit of showboating and a great, welcoming community of likeminded boarders. Game development has become more accessible to everyone. I am excited to see small studios share their passion for skateboarding.