Review: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is the ideal mix of nostalgia and modern touches
For developers, re-recreating a classic title has always been a tricky proposition. Video games tend to age poorly, be it the graphics, controls, or theme, so they are regularly republished in an attempt to update them for modern tastes. It’s a tricky balancing act. You change too much and the game loses what made it interesting in the first place; it changes very little and will feel like an heirloom. Few games get it right but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 strike that balance – it could be the perfect video game remastering.
If the awkward title wasn’t clear, THPS1 + 2 is essentially a remake of the original two Tony Hawk games. It takes the core elements, keeps the same stages and characters, but modernizes them in various ways. The most obvious is the visual presentation. The thick, fuzzy skaters and cityscapes of the original are gone. The new games look amazing; the characters are practically themselves, with realistic animations and detailed faces and clothes. When you see Tony Hawk’s in-game model, you immediately know who he is.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review
A similar level of detail has been applied at all levels. Cities are instantly recognizable. If you’ve ever been to Riverside Park or were almost hit by a yellow cab, you’ll feel right at home in the New York City setting. Likewise, the streets of San Francisco have the perfect mix of green space and myriad architectural styles, while Portland’s Burnside Park is constantly battered by heavy Oregon rain.
Surprisingly, while all the levels look completely modern, they have almost identical layouts compared to the original games. They are not exactly the same, but quite similar; when browsing shopping malls and warehouses primarily through muscle memory, and even 20-year-old FAQs can be used to find some hidden spots.
THPS1 + 2 also gives the feel of how the original games were played. The Tony Hawk series has never been a pure skateboarding simulation, but it’s not a full arcade experience either. It is somewhere in the middle. It allows you to experience the creativity of sport and the satisfaction of seeing your ideas in motion, but without the same level of time and dedication that it takes to skate. That is not to say that it is simple. Performing long combos still requires quick reflexes and the ability to remember what each button does. But at least it is achievable.
When you give up on Tony Hawk, it’s almost always because you’re wrong so many times. That way, it’s like riding a real skateboard – you see your mistake and then you can give it another try almost immediately. That was true 20 years ago, and it’s still true here.
Structure of the video game
One of the best things about the new version of the game is how it is structured. You’re doing most of the same things as before, there are tours where you play through levels in order, trying to get high scores for tricks, or finding particular things hidden in the park. Yes, you will still search malls for the letters S-K-A-T-E and search for hidden textbooks in a high school. These little challenges are great because they give less skilled players, like us, something to aim for even when they can’t hit a particularly high point total.
Unlock the stages in order and you can also go back and forth between THPS and its sequel at will. There is also a “ranked and free skating” mode where you can play through any level, even if you haven’t unlocked it yet, be it to rank up on the online leaderboards or just play with no time limit. . What makes all of this work is that it is completely transparent; progress in each game and mode groups together as you level up on your profile and earn money to get new equipment.
“Perfect” might be the best word to describe the THPS1 + 2 game as a whole. There is a lot going on, including online multiplayer (which I haven’t had a chance to check out) and a park creation mode (which I have no imagination for), but it’s all linked. Leveling up the profile on a single player tour could unlock a new item for creative mode, so that you can later design a new scenario and share it online. Everything is very consistent.
This also extends to the cultural aspects of the experience. THPS1 + 2 features the original cast of skaters, but they have been updated to look like they do now. Hawk, Chad Muska and Rodney Mullen are now in middle age, and that is reflected in the game. They are also joined by a cast of younger stars, such as Aori Nishimura and Tyshawn Jones.
Again, the skaters are not separated in any way by age or when they first appeared in the series; it’s just a great cast of incredibly talented professionals. You just choose your favorite.
“Overnight, it was a household name. I was a household name. “
Chad Muska tells on the impact of the original Tony Hawk’s pro skater.
Maybe there is something in skate culture that makes everything fit together so well despite the difference of years, or who knows why but it works. For example, if you spent a lot of time creating your own custom skater to look like you, buying lots of clothes and skateboard parts to equip it. Right now, your virtual look in ’90s clothing matches all-new Nike gear and nothing feels out of place.
There is also a lot to be excited about. It takes a while to unlock all the pieces, but the real tools are easy to use. And we hope to have a flood of nifty parks, Super Mario Maker-style. We also have to see if the game gains momentum on Twitch. Skate videos have become a staple of platforms like Instagram and TikTok, and we look forward to the same thing happening here.
However, whatever happens in the future, the important thing is that THPS1 + 2 respects the legacy of the original games and updates it wisely. What made those early games so special is the care and attention they put into depicting skateboarding culture, be it the music, the clothes, or the game itself. All of that is intact here, with all the modern updates you’d expect, from realistic visuals to new music and online support.