Is the skatepark back in business? — Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games possibly being remade

If you were around in the late-90’s and early-2000’s, you’ll most likely remember just how big of a deal the Tony Hawk game franchise was.  It brought skateboarding games to mainstream success thanks to its easy-to-pick-up gameplay, memorable music, and skatepark-sized amount of replay value.  And despite a nasty bail in the form of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, which was released shortly before Hawk and Activision Blizzard split ways, it doesn’t seem that all is lost.  Word on the street is that Activision are in the process of giving the first two games in the franchise (Maybe more) the remake treatment.  As a longtime fan of extreme sports games, this rumor has me absolutely pumped, and I hope this remake (Or package of remakes) really is a thing.  I have confidence that there is at least one studio at Activision that is fully capable of producing the game that Pro Skater 5 failed to be.  Maybe it’ll even be as good if not better than Skate 3.  In the meantime, all we can do is wait and find out if the Tony Hawk franchise truly is ready to drop into the halfpipe again.

Review of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled — All Crash and no burn

Few gamers would disagree that Crash Bandicoot was a very important piece of the PlayStation One’s library. Our orange marsupial hero starred in terrific platformers that went toe-to-toe with big franchises like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. And let’s not forget about Crash Team Racing, Sony’s heavily-revered answer to the iconic Mario Kart 64. CTR offered wacky items, well-designed tracks, and a very enthralling adventure mode. Crash and co. got two more kart racers after that, but it seems like the first one from 1999 is the fan-favorite. And apparently, Activision has heard that loud and clear, because they have now taken the 20-year-old racer and given it an amazing coat of modern paint in the form of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.

Exercise your Cortex

For those of you who missed this game’s original version (We at SSG will not judge you, don’t worry), allow me to summarize the story — Crash, his allies, and his enemies have developed a kart-racing hobby, which soon catches the attention of an egomaniacal racer named Nitros Oxide. Due to his deranged fascination for showing off his racing prowess, he challenges Earth’s best driver to a one-on-one race for all the spoils. The drawback is that if Nitros wims, he’ll turn the world into a parking lot and force the inhabitants to be at his command. With the fate of the globe in question, you and the character of your choosing must rack up victories one after another, collect all the trophies and relics, and stop Nitros once and for all.

On the track, Nitro-Fueled has controls that are both tight and deep. While it’s mainly inspired by Mario Kart, its drifting mechanic feels very unique. You hold down one of two hop buttons to hop and initiate the drift, and it fills up the boost meter. When it gets to half-full or close to being completely full, you tap the other hop button to perform a speed boost. You can chain up to three, and your timing determines how fast your boosts are. It seems a bit challenging, but it’ll grow on you. All of the tracks (And even some new ones, including a PS4 exclusive), characters, and items from the original version are back, and you even get content that originates from Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. Combine all of the above with many ways to customize your character and kart, and you have more than enough depth to accompany you during your trip down memory lane.

A Wumpa Fruit a day keeps Cortex away

Though some may scoff at the game being locked to 30 FPS, you have to give it credit for having little to no slowdown, even when four players are racing on one screen. The team at Beenox has done a fantastic job giving the 1999 racer a 2019 makeover, with eye-popping colors and well-animated characters. The audio is also above average with hilarious one-liners and very catchy music. And speaking of music, you have the option of listening to the remade soundtrack or the original PS1 music, which is such a rad touch.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, up to four players can race or battle on one console in a laundry list of game types. But if for some reason you’re unable to invite friends into your home to play this nostalgia-filled racer, online play makes up for it with each lobby holding up to eight players. I wouldn’t say it’s the best online arcade racing out there, but Beenox has plenty of time to fix up the netcode. Whether it’s offline or online, the multiplayer does everything in its power to make you laugh out loud or utter every curse word imaginable.

No sugar, no caffeine, just Crash

As long as you’re not a Mario Kart elitist that turns the other cheek when seeing one of many clones of said series, I have a butt-ton of confidence that Crash and the gang will provide you with a hefty amount of racing hilarity. It’s fun and deep, but more importantly, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a highly-successful unearthing of one of the kart-racing genre’s most prominent competitors.

Review of The Simpsons: Hit & Run – Springfield discovers Grand Theft Auto

Game companies love to create games based on licensed properties, but they sometimes don’t think of the possible consequences; Making tie-in games based on books, movies, and TV programs is not necessarily a bad idea, but one small mistake (Technological or otherwise) can ultimately relegate them to bargain bins and mediocre review scores.  Many popular cartoons are very aware of this stigma, and The Simpsons is no exception.  The inhabitants of Springfield were featured in a poor attempt at a pro-wrestling game, a Crazy Taxi clone that resulted in a patent-infringement lawsuit, and a highly unpopular clone of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.  The Simpsons: Hit & Run (Which was developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal) tries to be a fun parody of Grand Theft Auto; And despite the sketchy track record that I mentioned, this 2003 action game gets the job done and will appeal to all fans of Matt Groening’s masterpiece.

Steamed hams but it’s a fantastic Simpsons game

The Simpsons writers penned down the game’s story, and they have succeeded in giving us an engaging plot.  A swarm of camera-holding wasps descends from the sky, one of which is destroyed by Homer; After it litters coins hovering above the floor, our donut-loving hero sees a TV ad of Krusty the Klown promoting a “new and improved” Buzz Cola.  Being the glutton that he is, Homer makes a beeline for the Kwik-E-Mart, completely unaware of the crazy thrilling adventure that awaits the Simpson family (And Apu) and the crazy situations that will soon plague the town of Springfield.

Being a Grand Theft Auto clone, Hit & Run‘s levels are open worlds filled with tasks to complete.  You venture through Springfield by foot or by car, completing missions that involve things like doing favors for the residents, following/destroying/evading enemy cars, and even street racing.  Speaking of racing, each level has three bonus races to complete; Time trials held by Milhouse, circuit races run by Nelson, and checkpoint races set up by Ralph.  Winning all three in the level gets you a bonus car, which (Along with every car you’ve unlocked/purchased) is accessed via the payphones.  If you’re up for some gambling, wager races are there for you; They’re similar to time trials, except you must beat the time to avoid losing the money you bet.

Speaking of money, you earn coins by completing missions, finding level gags, destroying those wasp cameras, and crashing into things like lights, trees, hydrants, and Buzz Cola signs.  Once you earn enough, you can access and buy new outfits from the clothes shops hidden inside houses and buildings.  Now that I mention destructibles, it’s important to note that if you do too much damage to people and objects, the police meter will reach the top and you will be chased by cops.  If they successfully bust you, you’ll lose 50 coins.  You will  also litter coins on the floor if you destroy your car, and will have to pay 10 to fix it; So keep your driving under control and look for wrenches on the road.  One last thing to note about each level is that seven collectible cards are scattered all over the place; If you can find every one of a level’s cards, you’ll unlock said level in the four-player bonus game, which is a top-down racing minigame.

Don’t have a cow (Or wasp, in this case), man

Not only does Hit & Run feel and look like the TV show, but it certainly sounds like it too. The iconic theme song’s chorus is integrated into nearly every song on the game’s soundtrack, which also changes in genre and tone depending on which character you’re playing as; Neighborhood music for Homer and Marge, jazz for Lisa, Indian music for Apu, and (My personal favorite) skate punk for Bart.  Not only are all of these tracks very catchy, but more importantly, they really give you the feeling of being on the show.  Another part of the audio that will impress every Simpsons junkie is the official voice actors/actresses reprising their roles from the show and giving us a terrific script full of hilarious one-liners that might just have you rolling on the floor and laughing out loud (And yes, you’ll hear the famous “D’oh” quite a lot).

Thank you, come again

Writing all of these sentences puts on a smile on my face, because even simply mentioning it brings back so many memories of me enjoying this highly-underrated game based on an iconic cartoon.  If you’re a fan of The Simpsons and don’t mind imitations of Grand Theft AutoThe Simpsons: Hit & Run is a charming action game with more missions and hilarity than you can shake a can of Duff beer at.