Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is back! After several missteps in the series, Activision have handed it over to Vicarious Visions for a remaster. So, is it gnarly? (I can’t remember if that means good or not, man alive I got old).
Back in the Day
Before Call of Duty and other first-person shooters saturated the market, Activision’s biggest hit and annual franchise was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. With the music from bands like Goldfinger and Rage Against the Machine blasting out of your TV, you’d skate around searching for letters to spell S-K-A-T-E and that elusive, hard to reach, secret tape. Then you’d jump straight back in again and again for “one more go” to chain the biggest combo you could. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was (and thanks to this remaster, still is) insanely replayable.
Back to the Grind
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 brings back the levels and skaters of the first two games. All whilst bringing quality of life improvements from later titles as well as a few tricks too. While you still control your chosen skater the exact same way you did in the originals, it feels a lot more reactive. Tricks are as exciting as ever, but the speed of the game moves faster and skaters animation are much more fluid.
Levels have also received makeovers, and each one looks absolutely fantastic. And with more powerful hardware comes greater draw distance. On the original PlayStation, things in the distance were cover in fog, not as dense as Silent Hill fog, but foggy nonetheless. However, loading into some of the parks can take a considerable amount of time. Restarting your run can also take several seconds. although it’s not long, it can break you out of “the zone”.
Collectable stat points that were introduced in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 are present in this remake and are very much welcome. In the originals, you would need to scour each level and find hidden cash and spend it on upgrading your skater. These were typically extremely difficult to find and get to. Personally, I’m glad the stat points are here instead.
Most of the original games’ goals and checklists are here. Although Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1’s checklists have been thankfully bulked up from the original. Among other things, the checklist tasks you with collecting the letters S-K-A-T-E, performing specific tricks at specific spots, and causing general chaos. Once you complete a goal, it’s completed for every skater. Whereas, in the originals, each skater had their own career to playthrough. Arguably this brings down the replayability, but ultimately do you want to complete the same checklist with each of the games’ 21 skaters?
This doesn’t mean you’re left with nothing to do once you’ve finished your first playthrough. THPS 1+2 introduces a whole host of challenges. Including performing different kinds of combos, and doing specific things on specific levels.
Completing these challenges rewards you with new decks, gear, and other items as well as money and XP. These can be used to unlock even more precious gear. The professional skaters in the game have specific clothing and decks you can unlock. Which, once unlocked, can be equipped to your own created skaters.
Back on Track
As with all Tony Hawk games, the soundtrack is absolutely killer. Most of the original tracks return for 1+2, but a lot of new music is also included. Don’t worry, they fit in seamlessly with the rest of the tracklist. It’s a great mix of hip hop and punk. The music also reacts to your gameplay. This adds a subtle reverb when you fill your special meter and is slightly turned down when you bail, adding insult to injury.
Back to Back
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 also comes with several multiplayer features. Create-a-Park lets you... create a park. It’s an easy-to-use system. Although to make the most of it, you’ll need to unlock cosmetic parts for your custom parks through challenges. You’ll start with all of the basic components from the get-go, but you’ll want to grab those unlockables and give your park a real wow factor. Sharing levels with other players in the community is also possible. Because of this, it’s a much more enjoyable mode than it was in its early pre-online days.
As for its multiplayer, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 thankfully offers local and online versus modes. Graffiti, Horse, Trick Attack, and Tag make a welcome return and are joined by newbies Combo Mambo and Score Challenge. The split-screen mode also doesn’t suffer from any performance issues, so sore losers will have to get old school and blame the controller.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 absolutely nails everything about the original Tony Hawk experience. Sure, the load times between restarts can disrupt the flow, they aren’t enough to ruin the experience or stop everyone from having a blast. Playing through the remade levels is incredibly enjoyable. And with the smart additions and an engaging challenge system make Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 more than just a skate down memory lane.