Tiny Hawk (PlayStation Minis) Review—Super Fun but Super Duper Short

I sort of wrote a warning in my Karoshi review to the Flash-based browser games developers: portability is not a feature worthy of a price. No matter how great a game is, I can’t find any reason to purchase it when you can play it on other platforms free of charge. It should have additional content, restructured level design, anything that is worthy of that price tag. The Minis version of Karoshi is very distinct from its brethren, as it not only retained their core gameplay but threw in new levels and added some storyline; and then, boom, enthusiastic review.

For this matter, Tiny Hawk is priced, as of this writing, at £2.49/€2.99, middle of the pack when it comes to Minis pricing in Europe. I played the Flash version of Tiny Hawk a long time ago and enjoyed it a lot. The PSP version employs new graphics. And I don’t like them, since what made the original Tiny Hawk charming (aside from the obvious word play on “Tony Hawk”) was its pixelated graphics. But aesthetics aside, is Tiny Hawk able to justify its price tag?

I would automatically assume that the skateboarder character’s name is “Tiny Hawk.” You control him across levels, jumping onto rails, collecting cans and then getting to that chequered flag to end the level. This Mini is all about collecting as many cans as you can in the shortest time possible. You won’t be punished if you only managed to get just one can in a level or took a full hour in reaching the chequered flag, but it sure looks bad in the high score table.

You can’t “fully” control the skateboarder. You can only give him the general direction of where he is going (left or right) as he goes on riding with accelerating speed (until he bumps into something). You can jump onto ledges by pressing X and can drop from the rails by pressing the down button. You can climb walls by double jumping.

This Mini is an action-platformer with a little dash of puzzler elements. Tiny Hawk is a treat for speed run enthusiasts and OC completionists. For normal citizens, this Mini is a great diversion that you can pick up and play, then chase high scores until sunset…at least until you complete all of the 32 levels.

The game only has 32 levels, with no unlockables or achievement system. I could forgive the lack of unlockables in this game. But no achievement system? Even the most shameless ripoffs of low production value Flash-based browser games implement such a feature. Many of the kids these days scoff at the Minis program because of its lack of trophy support. If you presented Tiny Hawk to them, they would absolutely whine their lungs out all because of the lack of shiny little trophies they could boast about to their virtual friends. On a serious note, yeah, the game itself is inexhaustible until you get the lowest time possible while getting all the cans, but it would be so much better if there were other things to aim for aside from the core gameplay.

The music is really good, as it’s somewhat reminiscent of the arcade/NES/SNES era. Somehow, Tiny Hawk’s soundtrack reminded me of Sonic Wings. Don’t ask how; it just did. All I can say is Tiny Hawk’s soundtrack does trigger nostalgic attacks.

The most important aspect of games like Tiny Hawk is the level design, and it is true, the level design here is commendable. One single mistake could net you an extra minute to climb up or climb down. Remember, time is important here. If you are going to get all the cans in the shortest time possible, you must be a quick thinker and an awesome decision maker, and have great timing, too. And of course, patience is always a requirement if you are into old-school gaming.

The level progression is also great because of the ascending difficulty curve. The problem lies here: the levels are similar to those of the game’s Flash version sibling. There are changes, here and there, but it is noticeable that the levels are virtually the same. Add the fact that the game doesn’t really add another dimension to the gameplay, and it sure looks like you installed the Flash version of the game onto the PSP.

Galcon Labs, as an example, is a great game; however, I’ve played better (and way better) similar games at Flash game portals and played them for free. Tiny Hawk suffers the same fate, as it is a good game, but I’ve played better similar games for free. It’s difficult for me to justify or rationalize such a purchase. I would still recommend the game highly, but not for its price. If you are into this kind of game, hop on. If not, wait for the inevitable price drop.

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