Around this time of year you’ll see many sites dedicated to gaming listing what they believe to be the best game of 2012, whereas most sites have chosen Far Cry 3, Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3, Halo 4 or Black Ops 2 or any other number of games with a number in their title citing either graphical achievements or sales, I have chosen a different game, for a different reason.
My game of the year is Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD and here’s why. Now Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was and still is a fantastic game, but it’s not why it’s the game of the year, to show why it is I’m going to do a little experiment. Just listen to this song.
Simply put, if you know that song, there’s a 90% chance you know it from Tony Hawks Pro Skater, the same can be said for this song.
So why am I showing you a bunch of songs from a decade old game when I’m supposed to be discussing 2012? Well, a common complaint about gaming today is that it’s becoming too homogenized, that all games are exactly the same, that they’re all banking on the success of shooters like Halo and CoD to release the same game every year. One of my favourite articles discusses that very fact and I’d recommend reading it if you have the time.
Nostalgia is a powerful tool and I’ve discussed it and how it will ruin gaming before. Basically, games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater represent an awesome part of our childhood, a part that is so steeped in nostalgia we’ve completely forgotten its many flaws. To quote my own article “To some people Goldeneye was the perfect game, it doesn’t matter if they haven’t played it in 10 years, they just know. It doesn’t matter if you point out it had a frame rate worse than dial up pornography, graphics worse than a Casio calculator and controlled worse than a left-handed Rubix cube. To them, all they can recall is the fun they had when they played it, all of the bad memories have long since faded and in their place is a silver lined turd.”
Like it or not, the games from our childhood sucked, whether due to graphical constraints or controller problems. Sure they were fun then, but if you booted up a copy of Golden Eye or Tony Hawks Pro Skater now, I can guarantee that you’d have more fun experiencing a seizure and at least if you did that you’d have a chance of hurting your opponent with a slap (Golden Eye joke).
I don’t want this misconstrued as me saying these games are bad, because they aren’t, it’s just that compared to modern games they’re incredibly flawed, which isn’t their fault, they’re decades old. Which is why HD remakes are the best thing to happen to gaming all year, they let a new generation share in the same collective experience we all did when we were young. A new generation of gamers can experience Hitman, Jak and Daxter, Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts and veritable plethora of other awesome games. But it lets them experience them in a medium they’re familiar with. Like it or not, young gamers today couldn’t give a toss about those games, which is a shame because they’re rad as shit.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is my game of the year not because of the game itself, but because of what it represents, a chance for kids everywhere to experience what I did when I was younger and that trumps any achievement in sales or graphical leap, because that means technically, I’ll be able to raise my future child in exactly the same way I was brought up, only in HD thus making them an exact copy of me. Meaning yes, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the first step towards perfecting cloning technology.