‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2’ Review: All Apologies

I owe Tony Hawk a huge apology. Like most gamers at the turn of the century, I played the loving crap out of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise. In the beginning, I was terrible at it, but as Tony says in the game’s tutorial, “as in real life skating, you have to practice to get better.” And I did. I played it so much that I actually got pretty good at it. And I swore then that I would never put the virtual Tony Hawk and the other classic skaters through the punishment of harsh bails ever again. That was a lie. With the remastered Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, I’m back to putting the skater and his friends through another violent wringer as I try to remember how to play the games that defined an entire generation.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, as the name implies, takes the first two games of the series and remakes them from the ground up, this time from Vicarious Visions (original developer Neversoft is sadly no more). This is the kind of remake that every franchise should strive for, as it captures all the thrills of the original game, with the speed and power of current gen consoles. It has updated visuals and looks stunning in 4K and in 16:9, yet it retains the smooth gameplay the series in known for.

Old vs New in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2

The difference between the original and the remake is astounding.

Luckily, the structure of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 hasn’t changed much, and the simplicity of it is still part of its charm. Players take a skater, classically known or player-created, through 17 locations around the world skating for various objectives, like the letters to spell S-K-A-T-E and secret tapes, all while racking up seriously high scores by pulling off combinations of tricks. The maps are much like I remember them, which helps in trying to find all the secrets, and after 20 years, there is still the thrill of finding a hall pass, or by pulling off a wall ride on a school bell.

I’ve spent a good portion of my time playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 just bathing in the nostalgia. It looks, plays, and even sounds like 1999 all over again. The game has 60 songs on its soundtrack, and it’s a throwback to Warped Tours of the past, for sure. I just wish my muscle memory was up to the task.

Go back to School II in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2

Big moves and combos that I used to pull off with ease now end with my skater in a broken pile on the pavement. This is seriously user error and not the game. I’m just not as fast as I used to be. The combos are mapped to the same buttons, for the most part, so it’s just a matter of unlocking those memories in my body to get back to where I was when we last visited these two very special games.

Couch co-op returns, and there are various forms of online play as well, expanding upon an already successful formula to create what is perhaps the best Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater experience ever.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 looks absolutely fantastic on the PS4 and Xbox One. This franchise originally debuted on the original PlayStation — three generations ago — and the updated graphics are a home run. The maps look fantastic, and the sound design is once again incredible.

They say prison is a grind

I often spend whole gaming sessions just free skating on unlocked maps, trying to get better and taking it all in while jamming to some amazing music. There is a Create-a-Skater and a Create-a-Park mode, allowing you to flex your creativity, and currency earned in-game is how you pay for it all. No micro-transactions involving real cash here, and it’s a breath of fresh air in this current nickel-and-dime gaming culture.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is an amazing trip back to a bygone time. There are many current gamers that have some history with this franchise, in some form or another, and this game brings it all back to current. It was a major undertaking by developer Vicarious Visions, and they nailed it like a 900 off a short half-pipe into a manual that leads to a grind on the other side.

I don’t know if they will ever get to the remakes of the other games in the series, but just having these two games to play again and been a nostalgic trip that I recommend to anyone longing for days without viruses and vitriolic politics and social unrest. Just know that there will be some bails and nasty bumps in your journey back.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is out now for the PS4 and Xbox One. This is review is based off a PS4 review copy provided by Activision.


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is available now.
out of 5

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