shredsesheliYesterday I was lucky enough to be invited by Tony Hawk to come visit his HQ in San Marcos, CA to check out the iPhone game he has been working on, Tony Hawk's Shred Session. If you followed gamer and skater culture in the late 90's, few series are as sacred as the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games as they're basically singlehandedly responsible for kickstarting skateboarding games as a genre that are actually fun and feel good to play. Following Tony Hawk Pro Skater in 1999, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 was arguably even better, and the rest is history. The Tony Hawk games got a little crazy in their later years with the Jackass-era influenced Underground games and titles like Ride which were released at the height of the Guitar Hero-esque "Every Game Must Have a Crazy Accessory" mentality.

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Well, very soon the Tony Hawk series will be making its biggest leap yet to the App Store via Tony Hawk's Shred Session. I'll hazard a guess based on the success of the free to play Real Racing 3 [Free] that more people will be playing Shred Session than any other Tony Hawk game before, or maybe even every Tony Hawk game combined. That's the magic of free to play and the scale of the App Store at work.

Anyway, at its highest level, the easiest way to describe it would be if Subway Surfers [Free], or another lane-based vertical runner were mashed together with Tony Hawk games. It's played in portrait mode, everything you need to do in game can be done one handed, and all the swiping gestures will feel natural to the point that you don't even need a tutorial if you've played any lane-based runner before.

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The big difference in Shred Session, compared to everything else out there, is how they took this formula that's been proven time and time again to work well on mobile, and added all the tricks you're used to from Tony Hawk games. How fluid it all goes together is actually super cool, as instead of just swiping to avoid objects and other junk in your way, you're swiping to ollie off ramps, swiping some more to do various tricks, and landing to keep your score going.

The best thing to do is just watch this brief video, featuring Tony Hawk himself walking me through the game:

Two main game modes are included. Survival puts players to the task of stringing together continuous arrays of tricks to keep going, and Shred Sessions which focus on completing loads of familiar Tony Hawk style objectives like collecting "SKATE" and tons more- Even entirely busting out tricks on a half pipe, as shown in the video. While each objective type might fit in to general categories, no two are the same. Currently, there's around 20 objectives for each of the levels, with more inevitably coming from updates.

Five locales in all are included at launch. While none of them are modeled after any real environment, they're all tweaked to be a "skater's dream" filled with ramps, things to grind off of, and more. The warehouse pays homage to the classic Tony Hawk Pro Skater level, and the Santa Monica level is a skater-centric imagination of popular skate spots. Similarly, the docks and storm drain are fictional locations that have been crafted to be jam packed with things to do tricks on. Last, but not least, is South Bank which pays homage to the classic London skate spot.

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Also, in case you missed it at the end of the video, the playable skaters in the game are as follows, along with their subsequent bio's if you don't follow the skater scene:

Riley Hawk: Being the son of Tony Hawk put Riley on a board at the age of three. Being one of the most dedicated skateboarders in the world did the rest. His hard work, style, and versatility won Riley The Skateboard Mag’s “Year’s Best Am” award and his own Baker pro model in 2013.

Lizzie Armanto: Lizzie Armanto is a dominant force on the women’s skate scene. From 2010 - 2012 Lizzie was ranked #1 in World Cup Skateboarding and in 2013, Lizzie won gold at the first ever Women’s Skateboard Park event at X Games in Barcelona, Spain. Lizzie rips!

Chris Cole: Chris Cole is one the greatest professional street skateboarders of all time. His abilities make the most difficult tricks look easy. Combined with his consistency, creativity and hard work, Chris Cole has cemented his place in skating’s history.

Tony Hawk: Tony Hawk is arguably the most influential skateboarder in history. He was World Champion for 12 straight years and has invented nearly 100 tricks. Tony continues to innovate and inspire skateboarders around the world.

Aaron “Jaws” Homoki: Aaron “Jaws” Homoki has a reputation for skating the biggest stuff with the biggest smile. Some wonder if he has bionic legs. He also kills transition and will skate any bowl with ease. Jaws is from Phoenix, AZ.

David Gonzalez: 2012 Thrasher Magazine's Skateboarder of the Year, David Gonzalez has come a long way from the streets of Medellin, Columbia. David continues to tear it up on an off the course as one of the most stylish and influential skateboarders out there.

As far as how you'll pay for this game, being free to play and all, there will be two currencies in addition to an experience system that hinges on a typical three star mechanic for each level. Completing levels and doing well allows you to level up, coins are liberally earned in game and are used for cosmetic unlocks while the premium currency, bills, are used to speed up progress and continue in levels.

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One thing that's worth mentioning is the animations of all the tricks in this game are off the chain, and the reason for that is Tony's razor sharp levels of precision when it comes to analyzing the tricks frame by frame to make sure they look right. He gave me a few examples that he had the developers fixed, nuanced to the point of minor foot positioning on the board coming out of certain tricks. It's easy to appreciate that level of detail, in any game.

Shred Session is getting its finishing touches right now, and like all free to play games, will feature a brief soft launch before a worldwide roll out. The soft launch is scheduled inside of the next few weeks with a "full" launch coming this summer. In spending the day with Tony, one thing was clear: He's really excited for this game, and he's poured tons of time and attention in to it. If that's not reason enough to be similarly stoked, I don't know what is.

  • HansKaosu

    Looks awesome! 😀

  • curtneedsaride

    So, it's like a lane runner, but a skater instead. Taking one of today's game styles and infusing Tony Hawk. It makes sense... But it makes more sense to make sure THPS2 is updated in the App Store. That game is definitive Tony Hawk. This game looks like a quick attention-span-less fix.

    • ImJPaul

      I agree. THPS2 desperately needs widescreen and Retina support. This game looks awesome but don't forget about the old ones!

    • Eli Hodapp

      In talking to Tony, this is entirely in Activision's hands and something they've not interested in. I agree, but looking at the situation realistically, this game is going to do exponentially better than a updated port.

      • speedyph
      • curtneedsaride

        Yeah, unfortunately, from a business stand point, THPS2 has nothing on this one. I mean, if this has either IAP, timers, energy, refills, or one of the many other pitfalls of today's mobile games, it's sure to attract the majority of casual gamers. If it's free, heck, I'm sure I'll try it. Just sad to see another awesome franchise fall to this business model. At least this looks pretty.

      • Eli Hodapp

        It's not the business model as much as it just is intelligently designing for the platform. Unlike consoles, where you can make a big assumption that most people who own an Xbone are pretty hardcore gamers who will pay $60 for games, both people who identify as "gamers" as well as people who will legit pay for anything are the distinct minority here.

        If they could figure out how to port THPS2, have it be free AND playable by people who love 2048, then they'd be on to something. Maybe that's what Shred Session is.

      • Kevin MacLeod

        I'm not sure about that.

        The App Store is a huge place. I think it's a mistake for developers to feel that they need to target EVERYONE in the store. 5 years in, the market is big enough to target niches.

        If Activision releases a classic THPS game at $8.99 with no BS, no IAP, no ads, but with a strong level of quality, people will buy it. It doesn't have to be the next Angry Birds, it just has to be profitable.

        There are great examples of developers shooting for smaller, more realistic demographics and being profitable. Oceanhorn, Crescent Moon's games, Square Enix' games... those aren't attempting to hit no. 1 on the charts. They're trying to build a sustainable business built on a more limited niche of gamers who don't mind paying money for quality.

        The mistake in Threes vs 2048 was in the Threes developer pricing a mass-appeal game with a niche pricing scheme. They chose the wrong business model, because their game had the potential to be a huge hit via word-of-mouth. That thought process doesn't apply so much to games that will NEVER have that level of popularity explosion. I think that limited appeal games can - and should - be willing to price high to a smaller demographic.

    • TheMerc

      Agreed. This game appears to be extremely fun too, but bringing back and updating THPS2 as well would be the ideal scenario. I still don't understand why Activision would pull that game from the App Store if not to update it (although, since people who bought that game recently claim that game is unplayable on iOS7, I guess its removal could also be due to Activision not wanting to deal with people complaining, demanding refunds and so on). Hopefully that classic will yet return to the AppStore better than ever!

      • DBrown519

        Yes I hope so too man. I bought THPS2 also, and it's a white screen on iOS 7. Please Activation update THPS2. I'm still waiting on Marvel vs Capcom 2 to be updated in iOS, and Zen Pinball to add Plants vs Zombies Pinball to iOS.

  • Kit Emett

    Was keen until I read lane runner. Wtf is this lameness?

    • 21tigermike

      The 'controls' are complex enough with a PS3 controller. It's the only way they can do it with a touch screen ...

      • Alex

        it's not.. check out how Skateable app works

  • rich_952000

    I was, at first, skeptical about the "runner" mechanic to the game. However, in watching the video and reading about it, I think they'll have a top if the charts dominating and really fun game. I am a huge skate game fan and am eagerly awaiting this .

    • curtneedsaride

      Yeah it might be fun, but would it be as fun as an open world THPS game?

  • Mekklesack

    Just in time for summer! Yes please!

  • NOEN

    It just had to be so damn cool to meet the legend himself. He was my hero back in the 90's when I used to skate. That's just awesome......The game looks pretty cool too!

    • jstein360

      How did you get this story and not Jared? Was he afraid he'd be to star struck? Also, this looks good. I think going the lane runner route with heavy Tony Hawk influence is probably a good move for smartphones.

  • totallymichael

    Ha ha ha. Well, I guess the kiddies will have this and Touchgrind Skate 2, and us realism/challenge-seekers will stick with True Skate.

  • Anotherkellydown

    Very excited about this! Thanks for the awesome article! Sounds like this will be very fun and simple to play on the go. And the attention to detail and mechanics will definitely set this apart from typical lane based runners.

  • bcredonk

    Looks killer, I love the gameboy tony hawk games, the earliest of which had similar but less sophisticated mechanics than this.

  • JudahJames

    The return of the BirdMan! Too bad it doesn't have all the Bones Brigade dudes in it. Maybe in an update? 🙂

  • SerapisB

    Shut up and take my money! Or take my free download. Whatever

  • rewind

    Wow, that's so cool!

    Oh, and the game looks cool too. xD

  • Craig Wilson

    Skateboarding in my opinion needs to make a big comeback. I would love to do something with skateboarding video games, movies, or products I have enough money put to the side and want to go all in! To Infinity And Beyond!

  • Craig Wilson

    Can't wait I think their needs to be more skateboarding video games especially that target younger kids;)

  • Alex

    Looks good, but weird swipes... I wish they had the same controls as Skateable App, it's just so much better.