Written by: Raccoon
Naturally, before I get into my review of Tony Hawk's Underground 2 for the Gameboy Advance, I gotta give a little backstory. I wanted this game really badly... not the GBA version necessarily. I was kind of hoping for a console one, but the problem was I didn't own a console that could play it at the time. It was 2004 and I was still rocking my Nintendo 64 exclusively. So I had no chance outside of my Gameboy Advance to get this. Luckily for me, my birthday was coming up and I got it as a gift.
What was so weird about the day I got Underground 2 was that there was this kid I didn't know hanging out at my grandparent's house with his mom. So he randomly witnessed me be given this great game. He watched me playing the game over my shoulder and said "...Bucky Lasek!? This game has Bucky Lasek!?" I said "...yeah, all the Tony Hawk games do." He goes "I saw Bucky Lasek on TV a couple weeks ago! Mom! Mom! This game has Bucky Lasek!"
The kid was really hyped about Bucky Lasek.
I let him play it a little bit since he seemed interested. Plus I knew I'd get to play it whenever I wanted and he wouldn't.
The first thing I took notice of was the fact that the game has create-a-skater mode. I mean, it fucking sucks. It's really a terrible create-a-character mode... but it's a Gameboy game that has a character creator! That's nuts! The girl version of the character creator is shittier (you get three heads: white blonde, tan brunette and black girl with black hair. That's it.) Where as the male character creator has all kinds of different heads. But do you see feminists raising a stink about this game? Of course not. Damn you, Activision.
My character is completely inaccurate. I never wear a ponytail and I don't even own a pair of pants. But then again I don't know how to skateboard either... I blame Activision and Neversoft for both of these things.
The gameplay itself is fucking awesome. They did an amazing job of converting the Tony Hawk-style of skateboarding gameplay to the 2D/fake 3D style of Gameboy Advance. You can absolutely play this game and feel satisfied. Keeping in mind I came from Pro Skater straight to this, it was an easy conversion. I was even taken aback by the advancement of being able to get off your board and run around.
The soundtrack is dope too. You got crunchy, lowfi versions of Metallica and The Ramones, as well as new music I hadn't heard yet like Grand Puba and Cut Chemist. They only had a few songs and it mainly just played short portions of the songs, but it was rad. I was still used to traditional videogame music. 8 bit style. Hearing a real song in a Gameboy game was absolutely insane to me.
But it actually gets even cooler. The Gameboy Advance port had 3 minigames added to it that only exist in this game. When you want a break from skating around, these minigames are really fun. I loved the shoot-the-pedestrian minigame:
The other mini-game I really liked was the trick-combo one, which was basically Dance Dance Revolution on a skateboard.
The controls in the game are great. You'd expect a GBA skateboarding game to be rough but they figured it out. All in all, I recommend it. It's totally worth it if you're on the road, going to the store or at your grandma's funeral.