Cloudberry Kingdom Review (PS3/360/Wii U): “The Most Sadistically Awesome Platformer”

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Over the course of gaming history, 2D platformers have really become a staple genre that gamers of all kinds can enjoy. Ever since the days of Super Mario Bros. gracing the NES and Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis, we’ve seen a plethora of platformers impact the industry. Within the last half-decade, we’ve seen some stellar 2D platformers made by indie developers, such as Braid, Limbo and Outland. Pwnee Studios, an indie developer created by childhood friends Jordan Fisher and TJ Lutz, have worked together to bring about a 2D platformer that’s for the masochist called Cloudberry Kingdom. Is this a kingdom worth venturing?

When you start off the game’s story, you’ll be treated to a cutscene of the hero, Bob, trying to rescue the princess (where have we heard this before). However, instead of the cheery tone we’re accustomed to in Super Mario, we’re seeing that Bob is a tired, frustrated hero and that the Princess could care less that she’s being rescued from the evil king. Naturally, things aren’t so simple for Bob, as he’s thrown off a cliff by the evil king and forced to continue his tireless journey of rescuing the princess. From here, the game’s story mode begins. Cloudberry Kingdom plays precisely like you would expect a 2D platformer, with a few twists. You’ll have to traverse your way through deadly obstacles to reach the next level, with each ramping up in difficulty obstacle-wise, and each level takes only 15-40 seconds to complete. Controls are standard fare and nothing complicated by any means, with the A button used for jumping and Y button to use the exit door at the end of a level. Sounds pretty simple and straightforward enough, right? Well, here’s the thing. Bob dies in a single hit and has no weaponry to defend himself. If any obstacle or enemy hits Bob, he’s dead and it’s either back to the beginning or checkpoint. Levels are all cleverly designed to have a specific line that you can do that avoids death entirely, but I’ll touch more on that in a bit.

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Over the game’s eight chapters, there will be 40 levels of hardcore platforming action in each chapter (320 levels total). The obstacles all range from spinning fireballs, swinging spike balls, spikes that pop from the ground, lasers, etc. You’ll start off simple, just acclimating to the controls and feel of the game. However, things will quickly spin out of control when you play as various phases of Bob that change the mechanics and physics entirely. Every set of 10 levels, you’ll play as a new phase of Bob, such as Wheelie, Double Jump, Jetpack, Phase Bob, Tiny Bob, Fat Bob, Gravity Bob or even a Spaceship! For example, playing as Wheelie has Bob strapped to a stone wheel and will have the physics of a heavy wheel. Tiny Bob will make Bob gain more height, while Fat Bob makes him get less height than normal and is more prone to getting hit by an obstacle. Phase Bob will actually have Bob constantly morphing from Fat to Tiny, making traversing through levels a true challenge of timing. Playing as a Spaceship is really cool too, bringing back that feeling of playing something like R-Type or Gradius (granted you can’t shoot anything, but maneuvering it is fun).

As you traverse each level, you’ll notice there are blue crystals that can be collected. If you collect all of them in a level, you’ll get a “Perfect” status and earn an additional 10 crystals on top of what you collected. So what are the purpose of crystals you ask? Well, by pressing the X button, you’ll open up a Powerup Menu, which allows you to purchase a specific item to help you out with completing a level. The first item, which looks like “Terminator” Bob has you watch a video of the level to see the perfect path and timing you need to complete the level. The second item (which costs the most amount of crystals) will actually show you the exact path you need to take, as well as a dark object that goes along it to show you the exact timing of the path you should take. This item proved to be immensely helpful, especially with the precision required in later levels. The last item is a time clock that enables slow-motion, making everything except Bob move at a crawl. These items definitely help in their own respects and I never felt the need to be stingy with cashing in crystals for them since you keep collecting them.

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Aside from the game’s Story Mode, you will have access to Arcade and Free Play modes as well. In Arcade, you can choose between four different modes: Escalation, Time Crisis, Hero Rush, and Hybrid Rush. Escalation is essentially endurance, where you’re given 15 lives to start with and must get through as many levels as possible. You can get extra lives by collecting set amounts of crystals during the run. Time Crisis starts you off with 15 seconds to last before Bob explodes. As you race to the exit of each level (which are much shorter than usual), you must collect crystals to add precious time to the clock. Hero Rush and Hybrid Rush are much like Time Crisis mode, but both with distinct ways to play. Hero Rush has Bob changing his phase type in every level, while Hybrid Rush has Bob shifting into a combination of phases per level (such as being Wheelie and Phase Bob at the same time).

Free Play has a more customizable aspect to it. You’ll be able to choose a location, game type, hero style, difficulty, length of the level and how many checkpoints you’d like. The difficulty can not only be adjusted for players of any level, but can be completely customized to your liking. Want an incredibly simple level that has not a single obstacle? You can do it. Want a level that has more objects on screen that seems like there’s almost no room to move through? You can most certainly have that as well. The game’s AI has been designed to randomly generate a level that’s 100% beatable, which is incredibly impressive. Another customizable feature that’s really fun to play around with is Hero Factory. Here, you will actually customize the base, jump type and shape of Bob, while also tweaking every attribute to a tee, such as the acceleration, max speed, size, gravity, falling speed, jump length, number of jumps, etc. You can even fine tune your settings by testing it before going into the actual level. The options are simply endless.

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Cloudberry Kingdom is a vicious game in terms of difficulty, but why play it alone? You can have up to 4 people playing at once, all racing their way to the exit of these challenging stages. Each player can even customize Bob the way they want him to look. Whether they change the color of his suit, what kind of beard he has, his cape color (or no cape at all), and even the lining of his cape, there’s a solid amount to customize. I came across someone’s screenshot on the Miiverse where they practically replicated the look of Dr. Robotnik (sorry, his name is not Dr. Eggman in my book) from Sonic the Hedgehog. Playing in multiplayer makes this already chaotic game even more chaotic, but is an absolute blast. There’s even a co-op mode in Free Play where all the players are tethered together and must coordinate with each other to reach the end of the level. This alone will provide plenty of good laughs amongst friends.

Visually, Cloudberry Kingdom has a “flash” look to it, with very clean and vivid colors, as well as fluid animations. Environments and characters are nicely designed and the game itself runs incredibly smooth, never dropping the frame rate at all. The only odd animation that seems unpolished was Bob’s double jump, which had zero animation to it and was simply a “standing” animation while moving up. Cutscenes have a different visual style, representing a paper mache look. It’s actually pretty cool and works quite well for the visual aesthetic. Audio wise, this game has a bumpin’ soundtrack that’ll definitely engage the player further into the game. The soundtrack was composed by Blind Digital and Peacemaker…and damn is it a sweet soundtrack. They provide techno tunes that really get you pumped for wanting to complete a level. As I type this review, I’m listening to “Evidence” by Blind Digital (my favorite track in the game)…it’s that’s good. Although, I wish there was a way to change the song with a simple button press. On the flipside, the sound effects are pretty generic, but nothing bad by any means. Oh, and voice acting wise, Kevin Sorbo plays Bob…yes, the dude from the live-action Hercules TV show back from the 90s.

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Cloudberry Kingdom is an excellent 2D platformer that’s so sadistic, it makes the hacked Mario games look easy at points. However, the game’s stages are all designed to be 100% beatable thanks to the AI designed for the game. It’s an endless platformer alright, and one that you’ll be endlessly returning to, whether by yourself or with friends. The clean visuals, bumpin’ soundtrack and just downright addictive gameplay make Cloudberry Kingdom a must-own for any platformer fan.

Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

Copy purchased by author for review purposes. Game tested on the Wii U.

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Walking Dead Season 2 Sees a Familiar Face

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TellTale Games has finally dropped some tidbits about The Walking Dead Season 2 interactive game. Clementine, the lovable innocent sidekick from Season 1 will be returning for the new season. Clementine’s appearance in season 2 can be a major driving point for buyers of the first game. TellTale’s Chief Executive Dan Connors confirmed that she “will definitely be a part of” the second season. Whether this means she will be the protagonist or not remains to be seen. It was long rumored that Clementine would appear in the 400 days DLC, however it turned out to be a whole new cast. Meanwhile, fans are eagerly waiting for the release date announcement for Season 2. For more news, stay tuned.

[Via: Gamezone]

Castle of Illusions HD Confirmed; Coming to PSN/XBLA/Steam

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Sega is working with Disney Interactive on an HD remake of Castle of Illusion featuring you guessed it, Mickey Mouse. It has been confirmed that the game will release sometime this summer on PC, PSN, and XBLA.

Developed by Sega Studios, the title is detailed as “a complete re-imagining” of the Sega Genesis side scrolling game that first released back in 1990. It will feature the original storyline that had gamers poised to help Mickey save Minnie from the evil Witch. Sega has stated that the game has been “completely rebuilt from the ground up with new visuals and fresh gameplay mechanics.”

“The original Castle of Illusion was tremendously entertaining and has a well-deserved reputation as a Sega classic. Castle of Illusion Featuring Mickey Mouse brings this great game to a new generation. Mickey is back and he looks fantastic.”

Gamers are rejoicing as it has been 22 years since they have seen this game boot up again, and now, it will look the most up-to-date. For more news on this, stay tuned to GamersXtreme, and as always, “Game On!”

Duck Tales Remastered Announced for PSN, XBLA, and Wii U

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Fans of the NES classic, Duck Tales, will be pleased to know that Capcom and WayForward are working on an HD remastered version titled “DuckTales Remastered”.

Announced at PAX East today, the game will feature classic DuckTales gameplay with a completely-remastered look and feel, featuring hand-drawn 2D sprites in a 3D environment. Additionally, the game’s classic 8-bit tunes will be remastered, placing a fresh twist on the game’s nostalgic feel. A few bonuses will be included as well, including a tutorial, a museum, and the ability to swim through Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.

The game is set to be released in Summer 2013 for PSN, XBLA, and the Wii U eShop for $14.99, or 1200 MS Points. Check out the teaser trailer below!

“Payday 2” Making a Heist On More Consoles This Time Around

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Well fans of Bank Robbery genres can rejoice today. No, director Michael Mann will not be making a sequel to “Heat”. However Payday: The Heist will be getting a sequel this year! Developer Overkill Software stated “We wanted to make a more fleshed out experience than the fans had previously had. We also wanted to reach more platforms and gamers than we did last time”. The new Payday will not only be coming to the PC and PS3, but now the Xbox 360 as well. This time around, players will have access to the “CrimeNet”. That means there will be more missions that will become available, as well as provide the ability to level up your character from the money you earn.

There has been a huge response of applause from the online forums regarding the multi-plat decision, here’s hoping it “pays off”. The game will be releasing simultaneously on all three platforms this Summer, but the developer has not stated an exact date as of yet. For more news on this, stay tuned to GamersXtreme, and as always, “Game On”.

Cowabunga! The Ninja Turtles are “Out of the Shadows” This Summer

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans will finally be getting a new game soon. Aptly named “TMNT: Out of the Shadows”, it will be a digital only affair for the PSN, XBLA and PC. Out of the Shadows will be published by Activision. This is a follow up to last year’s annoucement of Activision purchasing the rights of the series. It has been confirmed that Activison intends to release at least three titles in the next three years. This would make a TMNT trilogy for fans missing the series in recent years. It was also stated that these three titles are based on the newly released Nickelodeon cartoon.

In the game, players take on the role of one of the ninja turtles and fight criminals using famed moves and melee weapons. The highlight of the game is promised to be the four player online co-op. Red Fly Studios will be developing the game for the PSN, XBLA, and STEAM. The developer’s not a stranger to licensed games, as they released the Wii versions of “Thor: God of Thunder” and “Ghostbusters: The Video Game”. The game will be due out this summer for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. For more news on this or any other topic, be sure to keep it locked onto Gamers Xtreme, and as always “Game On!”

NYCC 2012: Marvel Pinball Civil War Announced; Trailer Included

During the Marvel Video Games panel, they announced that a new pinball table would be coming to Marvel Pinball, Civil War. The Civil War table will have Spider-Woman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America and more appearing in the pack. The Civil War table will be available for “Pinball FX2” on XBLA and Windows 8, “Zen Pinball 2” for PS3/PS Vita (Cross-Buy compatible), “Marvel Pinball” for PS3, “Zen Pinball 2” for the Mac App Store, “Zen Pinball” on iTunes App Store and “Zen Pinball THD” for Google Play.

In the meantime, check out the trailer below!

Atari Classic “Warlords” Out Now on PSN, “Coming Soon” on XBLA

Atari has gone back and rebuilt one of their old IPs that is now out on PSN and coming soon for XBLA. Warlords, an Atari title that was released in 1980, has been completely rebuilt from the ground up for the modern generation of gamers, while aiming to bring back fans of the original as well. Below is the press release that gives you information as to what the game is like, as well as some screenshots. Check it out!

LOS ANGELES – October 9, 2012 – Atari, one of the world’s most recognized publishers and producers of interactive entertainment, announced today that they have launched Warlords®, a remake of the classic title for the Atari 2600, on PlayStation®Network. The game is available today for aspiring warmongers across the U.S. for $9.99, with an EU release coming tomorrow, Oct. 10, for €9.99. Warlords brings all the action of the classic game into the modern age with an all-new look and online multiplayer modes. The game will also make its debut on Xbox LIVE® Arcade next month on Nov. 14 for 800 Microsoft Points.

 

Warlords is a one-to-four player arcade action game in which players will defend their castles from a maniacal dragon, unleashing a torrent of fireballs and crafty minions against their strongholds. In this whimsical reinvention of the beloved classic, players will face the ultimate battle of speed, strategy and survival. In addition, the game will increasingly challenge players to multitask as they strive to shield the castle walls and simultaneously rally troops to capture control points, collect power-ups and destroy the other warring factions – either alone or alongside three other players.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Protect the stronghold!  Defend your castle walls from the destruction of fast-flying fireballs with your mighty shield.  Move the shield around the perimeter of your castle with precision and speed to deflect the fireballs or grab onto and charge fireballs to release even more devastating attacks back at your opponents.
  • Multiple local/online game modes sweeten the quest for power and allow for cooperative and competitive battles with up to 4 players.  Select the faction of your choice and engage in a number of competitive variations, including co-op siege mode, 2v2 or classic free-for-all battles.
  • Rally your troops and pit them against your foes.  Your loyal posse brings a layer of depth and replayability to every battle and can be sent off to capture control points, gather power-ups to immobilize your enemies or bolster your defenses.  Manage your troops wisely to gain the battlefield advantage!

For more information about Warlords, please log onto www.atari.com or www.atari.com/warlords.

Double Dragon: Neon Review (PSN/XBLA): “An Old-School Revival Done Right”

The 80s, one of the greatest decades that comes to mind. Great music, awesome cartoons and the start of certain game franchises that, to this day, still stand tall. Double Dragon was one of those franchises born in 1987 via Arcade and then made its way to the NES. For years, the series had continued to grow, but by the mid-90s, it slowly faded away. Fast forward to 2012 and the series returns to the PSN/XBLA as Double Dragon: Neon, courtesy of WayForward Technologies, for its 25th anniversary. Is this 80s revival the proper homage to series/brawler fans or are you better off dusting your NES carts?

Upon booting up the game, you’ll be treated to the Double Dragon remixed theme song and if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll definitely be cracking a smile at the pure sense of nostalgia. As you initiate a new game, you’ll find a similar intro to the original Double Dragon. Marian, your girlfriend and damsel in distress, gets nailed right in the chest by a thug and then kidnaps her. Ironically, Billy and Jimmy will actually say, “Oh man…not this again!” when she’s taken away, somewhat breaking the fourth wall. From here, let the beat downs commence.

WayForward Technologies definitely studied the history of the franchise as it shows in the game’s mechanics. The characters control very similar to their 8 and 16-bit days, stiff movement and all. Normally something like that sounds more negative than positive in today’s standards but let me assure you, it’s not. It gives the game that same “feel” to the originals that fans will truly appreciate while newcomers will still be able to grasp after a few minutes. Combat is handled with your light and strong attacks, as well as grabs and special attacks. Light attacks mainly resort to your fists while strong attacks will focus on your kicks. Every time you critically damage an opponent into a stun state, the screen will freeze for a split second, giving you a sense of the damage you’re dealing. It’s a nice little touch but one that’s gratifying and effective. You’ll be able to pick up weapons such as baseball bats, 2x4s, switchblades, explosive canisters, and of course the most badass weapon in the game, the hair pick. You can switch up the button presses to mix up your combos, but to further add some complexity, there’s a duck/dodge mechanic that can change up your moves as well. Ducking and dodging is one mechanic that you better get used to…a lot. The game reeks of old-school mechanics and the only way to complete that “feel” is to make the game tough-as-hell. While nowhere near as difficult as Double Dragon III on the NES (you know, the one where you only get a single life to get through the entire game), this game will definitely test your skills. You’ll get three lives at the start of every level but once you run out of those, it’s back to the very beginning of the stage, no checkpoints here. To be honest, the only time you’ll ever get a checkpoint is at the final boss…and thank goodness for that because the final level is lengthy and the final boss poses a steep challenge.

While the game is a brawler at heart, you’ll have to do a slight bit of platforming. While it’s not the smoothest platforming, Double Dragon always felt stiff when jumping over chasms, and the case remains the same here. Again, purely a design decision to make the game feel as close to the originals as possible. At the end of certain levels, there’ll be a boss battle awaiting you and these are cleverly designed. Every boss will have a specific strategy for you to learn so that you can find the right moment to rush in, attack and dodge. Oh, and Mega Man fans, there’s a boss that pays an homage to that franchise as well and you’ll chuckle when you witness it.

As you progress through the levels, you’ll earn cash which can be used at the shop you’ll find in a few levels. The shop allows you to buy extra Cassette Tapes (which I’ll explain their use soon), health and energy, and extra lives. Strangely, if you buy a ton of lives, none of them will carry over into the next level so just keep that in mind when spending the dough on that. There’s also a “Tapesmith” that allows you to upgrade your Cassette Tape capacity, which will enable your abilities to keep increasing in the particular stats that it pertains to. Cash won’t be your currency for these upgrades however. Instead, you’ll need to trade in Mythril that you earn after boss fights. You won’t upgrade much on your first playthrough but it definitely gives the game some replay value to go back and keep upgrading.

Now I mentioned about Cassette Tapes, which really helps change up the game’s mechanics and strategic approach. Cassette Tapes will be broken up into two categories, one particularly for Sosetsitsu (specials), the other for Stances (stat enhancements). Sosetsitsus will range from shooting fireballs and lightning, to the infamous Spin Kick that was a staple in the series. Stance cassettes will vary from increased offense but decreased defense, recover health from every hit but have a smaller health bar, or even an all-around stat setup so that everything is balanced. The Cassette Tapes add a good amount of depth to the game’s mechanics that can make all the difference in succeeding in a level. By simply pressing Select/Back, you’ll access the menu and will be able to switch up your tapes at any time. Tapes are easily obtainable from enemies as they’ll be dropping them often.

When it comes to brawlers, co-op (or “Bro-Op” as they call it) is always essential and naturally, Double Dragon is synonymous for it. That feature is fully intact here, with a drop-in/drop-out feature incorporated. WayForward went the extra mile and added an option to shut off “Friendly Fire”  so that you and your buddy aren’t getting in the way of each other. However, if you’re hardcore, you can always stick to the old fashion style of dealing damage to each other. Unfortunately, the one odd omission is the lack of online co-op. While I understand WayForward may have chosen this direction to truly retain the game’s old-school style, it’s still a bummer to not have the feature here.

When it comes to visuals, WayForward really has an amazing art style and their talent still stands here. Combining their astonishing 2D artwork with solid 3D models, all full of colorful detail, Double Dragon Neon is just a nice looking game. The game runs at a silky smooth 60fps the whole time, never stuttering at any moment no matter how intense the action gets. Jake Kaufman (known for his BloodRayne: Betrayal composition) returns once again to give Double Dragon a proper soundtrack and fires on all cylinders. Double Dragon has an energetic, pumping soundtrack filled with remixes of classic tunes from the original installments. Interestingly, the names of the Cassette Tapes are actual songs from the 80s that will play when highlighting them in the menu. Sound effects are exactly what you’d expect from a brawler and gets the job done. The voice acting on the other hand is incredibly laughable, intentionally so, making it reach that “so bad it’s good” quality. It’s incredibly cheesy dialogue but completely fits the nature of the game.

WayForward Technologies has continued to provide something that very few developers have achieved; a nostalgic experience that brings me back to why I got into gaming in the first place. The game isn’t perfect, but it’s a great game that must be played by any Double Dragon fan, as well as anyone who digs a solid brawler. If you never dug the Double Dragon series before, there may not be too much here to convince you. This game is clearly a love letter to fans of the originals and it clearly shows. Double Dragon Neon is a great example of an old-school revival done right.

Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10 = BUY IT!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review (PSN/XBLA): A Return to Former Glory?

Back in 1999, the gaming community was pleasantly surprised by a certain title that set a standard for the extreme sports genre, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. With the success of the first installment, we’ve seen numerous sequels released over time but the series’ started to lose its appeal. While they went as far as trying to change-up the once successful formula by making two installments that required an actual board to stand on, it didn’t exactly win over the original fans or many of the newcomers. Robomodo looked back at what made the franchise successful and decided to rebuild portions of the original two Tony Hawk titles with a brand new engine, while keeping the “feel” of those intact. Released on the XBLA back in July and now also on the PSN (coming later this year for PC), Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD aims to provide that nostalgic feel that won over the fans in the first place. Is this that proper form to glory…or is it just an antiquated franchise that needs to rest?

First off, upon booting up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, music from the game’s soundtrack will start playing and you’ll most likely be treated to one of the classic songs from THPS 1 or 2. Being a massive fan of the earlier installments, it really brought back a sense of nostalgia as the first two THPS titles had excellent soundtracks. Once you actually get into the game, you’ll choose from fan favorites like Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, Rodney Mullen and of course, Tony Hawk; while introducing some newer skaters like Chris Cole and Riley Hawk (Tony Hawk’s son). The game’s career mode takes place over the span of seven classic levels from both THPS and THPS2: Warehouse, School II, Hangar, Mall, Venice Beach, Downhill Jam and Marseille. Each level will contain 10 objectives to complete (like in the originals) that span from getting High/Pro/Sick Score, collect S-K-A-T-E letters, trick off a certain line/gap, etc. You’ll earn cash for every objective you complete, which can then be spent on upgrading your skater’s stats, as well as buying new Specials and boards. Fans of the originals will reminisce on the nostalgia of the game.

For newcomers, if you’ve never played an old-school Tony Hawk game, let me briefly explain how it works. You’ve got a 2-minute run to complete as many of the 10 objectives in a level as possible. Once the objective is complete, you don’t have to complete it again on another run. Tricks are handled simply with the face buttons on the controller consisting of ollie, grind, flip and grab tricks. Depending on the input or direction you press on the analog stick/d-pad results in more varied tricks. Grinds are pulled off with the press of a button and from there, you’ll balance your meter by pressing left or right on the analog stick to avoid it reaching the entire end. To further extend your combos, utilizing the Manual feature is absolutely key so that you can reach your next closest spot to keep tricking while holding your combo. After successfully pulling off a few tricks without bailing, you’ll have your Special meter filled up and with the correct input, you’ll pull off much more flashier tricks. Robomodo added a “Quick Retry” feature so that instead of pausing the game to restart your run, you can simply hit Select/Back button to retry your run. Thankfully, you’re prompted about starting over when you press the button so should you accidentally press it while you’re having a killer run, you won’t lose your progress. Also, they added a “map” in the pause menu that shows off where all the objectives are, as well as where all the gaps are. It’s a nice addition for those having a hard time accomplishing goals or have no idea where a certain gap tied into an objective is.

Aside from the Career mode, you can still take on Single Session and Free Skate but Robomodo has added a few modes of their own to switch it up: Hawkman, Big Head Survival and Projectives. Hawkman is basically a slight jab at Pac-Man, where you’ll have to collect all the “pellets” in the area as fast as possible. Pellets are specifically colored so that you know if you need to grind, ollie or manual your way into them to collect them. It’s an interesting new mode that can certainly test the most skilled THPS players, in particular if you’re trying to get all the pellets in a single combo (which is a trophy/achievement in the Hangar level). Big Head Survival is all about avoiding your skater’s head from exploding. Your skater’s head begins to inflate the moment you start and the only way to deflate it is by tricking as much as possible. The bigger your trick combos, the more your head will deflate. The longer you stay alive though, the faster your head will start to inflate and once your head explodes, it’s game over. It’s an incredibly addictive mode, especially when played against friends online, as it makes matches very tense and exciting. The last new mode is Projectives, which is essentially a harder Career mode. Once you complete the career, you’ll unlock this mode and you’ll have a single minute to complete five specific objectives. Again, not all the objectives have to be completed within that single minute. This mode will definitely demand for greater skill, which hardcore fans will appreciate.

Visually, THPS HD looks pretty good. There’s nothing here that looks mind-blowing but it’s entirely serviceable. Characters animate pretty well when pulling off tricks and the environments are very nicely replicated. The sound effects are exactly what you would expect from a Tony Hawk title and that’s a good thing. All those iconic sound effects from the original two games are found here and help flesh out that “old-school” vibe. However, one of the best parts about the game…it’s soundtrack. Robomodo has actually secured the licensing rights for some of the original tracks from THPS 1 and 2, including “Bring the Noise”, “When Worlds Collide”, “Superman”, “Heavy Metal Winner”, “No Cigar” and “May 16”. There’s also some new tracks to be found that definitely match the experience but there’s one or two that really didn’t suit me personally.

However, there are a few issues I had with THPS HD. First off, while the game doesn’t run at 60 fps (like THPS3, THPS4, THUG, THUG2, THAW), but rather 30 fps, there are some screen-tearing and frame-rate issues. With a game like this, where every trick counts for your combo and is sensitive to even the slightest mistake, a frame-rate issue can result in a lack of button input. There were a few times where I tried to manual but the frame-rate skipped and didn’t register my input, resulting in me losing my combo. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s noticeable. Secondly, as awesome as the soundtrack is, there’s no “Skip Track” or “Playlist” feature and you’re forced to listen to the current song. Granted, you can utilize custom soundtracks if you want (yes, the PS3 version has that feature via XMB) but sometimes there’s a certain song you need to listen to that gets you going. Another gripe I had was the game’s lack of the classic multiplayer mode, HORSE. While it’s much more effective as a local multiplayer experience, it still would’ve been great to see it brought back. Now, my biggest questionable omission that I still can’t wrap my head around is the lack of a Split-Screen Multiplayer mode. THPS is one of those titles that when you have buddies over, you’d all gather up around the couch and go head-to-head with each other. That’s completely gone in this version. While I like the fact that the game is online, it’s just odd that there’s no local multiplayer to be found here.

Gripes aside, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a great title that brings “The Birdman” back to his glory days. Even after earning the Platinum Trophy in the game, it’s a game that easily demands more of your time and with the inclusion of online play, you can certainly get some mileage out of it. For $14.99/1200 MS Points, any Tony Hawk fan should definitely give it a go. It plays safe-ground by returning to its roots but still feels great over a decade later. While Robomodo’s first two Tony Hawk installments (Ride and Shred) weren’t very well received, the developer is certainly on the right track after this, and I have confidence that they can continue to maintain the franchise in this direction.

Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

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