Many of us remember Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam. It is a launch title developed by Toys for Bob for the Nintendo Wii. This is the game TFB was working on when Alex Ness announced they would like to make a Star Control game someday.
The idea for this game came from a discussion from Activision from a list of gameplay styles fans would like to see from the Tony Hawk franchise. The idea of a racing game was one of the most popular and Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam was born.
While the game was in development, one of the things that TFB tried was gluing a Wii remote to the bottom of a skateboard to see what leaning on it would be like as a controller. This is interesting because Nintendo eventually released the balance board a few years later. A game called Skate It used this peripheral in a similar manner that TFB experimented with.
Originally, there were plans for online multiplayer for THDJ. Unfortunately, due to a tight schedule for getting the game out on the Wii’s launch date, it was removed and only local multiplayer was removed. It would have been the Wii’s first Nintendo Wi-Fi game. Pokémon Battle Revolution was released a few months later and became the first Wi-Fi game.
The DS version of THDJ had online multiplayer. However, it is no longer functioning since it was hosted by a third-party who is no longer supporting it.
THDJ was advertised as having much longer and faster levels than in other Tony Hawk games. The level design is amazing; there were multiple paths, shortcuts and plenty of obstacles that can help or hinder certain characters based on their stats. I never once felt like I was moving in a straight line and the closer I get to the last level, I feel more tense that at any second I could lose my position. It’s very entertaining to watch a pro move through the tough levels. This could be an example of creative control that TFB had over a project overseen by Activision.
Did you know that this isn’t the first time they have used the Tony Hawk engine? The other game they used it in was Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure. shudder This is actually the first game TFB made with Activision after signing their contract. This game shares the same engine as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4.
DESA is geared towards a younger audience. The balance meter is more lenient and the tricks available depend on the character chosen. There is also an option to create a custom skater. I first played DESA when I played a demo of it from a demo disc that came with an issue of Official Xbox Magazine. The only playable level is “Andy’s Room” from Toy Story. It is a fun game which made me immediately think of Tony Hawk. Unfortunately, the demo disc is not compatible with the Xbox 360. Despite the child demographic, it is fun to play. I feel the same Tony Hawk experience when I played it.
Speaking of Tony Hawk, Neversoft is no longer working on it. The video game rights have been passed on to Robomodo who has recently made Tony Hawk: Ride. EA’s Skate franchise is still in the competition. I’m not sure how the Tony Hawk franchise will evolve in the future. I haven’t played many of the new Tony Hawk or Skate games; mostly demos. I remember spending a lot of time playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the Game Boy Advance and N64 back in the day.
I remember playing a game on the old Xbox called Toxic Grind; it has nothing to do with Tony Hawk. It’s a BMX game that takes place in the future, where the player is a contestant in a reality TV show on a stage is filled with death traps and must compete with other players to stay alive. It is one of the most bizarre extreme sports games I have ever played.
In any case, I hope this post about TFB’s experience with the Tony Hawk engine has been informative. No matter what they have on their plate, TFB can make it fun and get it finished, even if it’s from a licensed IP.
What do you think about the Tony Hawk franchise?