Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam Review

The Tony Hawk series has been around since 1999, starting off with Tony Hawk Pro Skater for the Playstation, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy Color.  Since then it has become the most popular extreme sports series.  Jimmy Kimmel recently told Tony Hawk, “Your athletic ability has enabled millions of teenage Americans to sit on their couch and eat Doritos, and I think that is a wonderful thing.”

Now we are upon the eighth game in the series.  While the game strayed a bit from its skating roots by going towards a more story-based game, it looks like Tony Hawk has returned home.  The Xbox 360, Xbox, PS3, PS2, and PSP are getting Tony Hawk

The graphics in THDJ are cel-shaded.  Anyone who has ever played Jet Grind Radio or Jet Set Radio Future will reminisce about them after seeing the graphics in THDJ.  The style works well since the character models and the backgrounds do look a bit blocky.  While this is the Nintendo DS, a little more rounding of the graphics would have been nice.

The characters in THDJ only have a slight texture to them.  You can see a little bit of texture in the faces and clothing.  The walls and ramps show enough to give the impression that they aren

The music of Tony Hawk has always been a mix of rap, punk, and metal.  THDJ is no different.  THDJ features fifteen songs.  Even though most of these bands are probably unknown to most, they fit in line with other Tony Hawk games.  While you probably won

Controls are handled similarly to other Tony Hawk games.  The D-pad controls movement of your skater.  Holding down B crouches while releasing B jumps.  Pressing A in combination with the D-pad while jumping performs grab tricks.  Flip tricks are done by pressing Y in combination with the D-pad.  Hitting X grinds along rails.  Manuals, useful for linking tricks, are done by going up then down, or down then up, quickly on the D-pad.  In specific situations, these buttons allow you to perform wallrides and other tricks depending on the skater.

There are two big issues with the controls. First, the D-pad is not as accurate as an analog stick.  Because of this, keeping balance on grinds and manuals without bailing is difficult.  Trying to land without a sloppy is difficult as well.

Second, if you want to perform special tricks, trick Hawk skulls show up on the bottom touch screen.  Occasionally these wouldn

THDJ includes five different modes.  The World Tour is the story mode of the game.  It features you competing in different challenges around the world on a tour with Tony Hawk.  As you earn medals you gain points to upgrade your stats.  Jam session has you skate through the course.  During this course you attempt to complete different challenges.  You can choose which challenges you wish to complete in that time such as earning a high score, knocking over garbage cans, getting a specific amount of hang time, and getting sick combos.  In the Quick Race, you race against one to three challengers to get to the end of the course.  Free Skate lets you go through a course and explore however you want.  Since there isn’t a specific goal this can help you discover shortcuts, big air jumps, and other gaps.  Finally, there are Lessons that let you learn the basic controls to perform tricks.

In the World Tour, you create a character and start out as a part of Tony Hawk

The game features six locations in the World Tour.  Each of those has several challenges.  Those challenges focus on different parts of the course, so each one does feel a little different, even if the artwork has similar style throughout the location.  Still, the lack of the number of locations is disappointing.  The Jam Sessions are reminiscent of the Tony Hawk games of old except you are going downhill the entire time.  Completing these challenges is not as difficult as the World Tour.  The Quick Races are nice diversions that are perfect for short gaming sessions.

The online portion of the game features four-player modes locally and through the Internet.  These modes range from simple races to team-based games.  If you have a few friends with the game, this portion of the game can be very satisfying.  It even includes voice chat for the game.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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