The remake of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is absolutely phenomenal. Not only from a purely nostalgic perspective, although I'm sure plenty of folks are enjoying it for that, but the movement, content, tight map designs and general spirit of the game show that the developers really loved making the game. It's not only a love-letter to those original games but a blueprint that all future remakes should follow. It's utterly exceptional and should be played by fans of the franchise and newcomers looking for a genre of game that just doesn't get made any more.
I’ve never played a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in my life so I suppose I’m coming at this review from a slightly different perspective than most. See, the remake of Pro Skater 1+2 has plenty of people really jazzed because those two games are generally considered to be some of the best of all time. It’s a bold claim, I know but even I, one who has never had any interest in the franchise, am aware of how tight and well made those games are.
Announcing a remake of those two original games… well, it was a massive risk of Activision. How do you modernise games that were are more than twenty years old while retaining the elements that actually made them so loved? It’s a fine rail to grind and yet, I think opposed to what most people expected, they succeeded because Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is maybe the gold standard for modern video game remakes.
I’ll be the first to admit that going into Pro Skater 1+2 I didn’t like the experience. I was very vocal on stream that I just didn’t get it. As someone who played the Hell out of Skate 2 and Skate 3 that I couldn’t get a feel for the controls or movement of the game. Yet I wasn’t being fair to the game in those initial impressions. Just because it wasn’t a simulation or style of gameplay I wasn’t used to doesn’t mean it’s bad. Pro Skater is more of an arcade game than I was expecting so starting off, I fought that style of gameplay with those instincts of the soft-simulations that I’d come to know. Yet once I met the game on its own terms, I was…well, I was so captivated that I spent hours on it this weekend. More than I ever expected.
In a single weekend, I completed every single objective in Pro Skater 1 and I’m fairly close to doing the same for the sequel. Sure, I had to play the game for this review, that’s my job but what you don’t understand is that I got into that experience. I loved every second, figuring out how the maps are so intricate and detailed in their design to promote the most fluid experience possible to spending all my in-game cash to make the sickest looking skater possible. I think it’s a testament to the game’s design that it’s possible to skate around an entire map in one seamless combo of tricks for a boatload of points, a feat I’m only just beginning to understand. That kind of fluidity…it’s just mind-boggling.
New Coat of Paint
Which is all to say that the original design of those games still holds up to this day. Pro Skater 1 and 2 are incredible games, we’ve known that for years. The real question is just how well developer Beenox and Vicarious Visions could update and modernise the game for the current generation of consoles. Would the game still play like the original or would there be so many drastic changes that it would be a fundamentally different experience?
Rather cleverly, the developers did very little to change that original formula and instead built upon it. The game still controls as smoothly as your remember (according to folks who played it back on the PS1, I did my research) and the tracks have been built to feature all the same props, nooks and crannies; they just look a whole load better. The best part is that all the customisation options are still present but now there’s even more of them!
The range of skaters, both new and old, as well as all the original gear and modern cosmetics, is almost overwhelming but the game does such a great job at dishing out cash that you’re never short of your next fresh hat or pair of All-Stars. The marriage of 90’s skater culture with that of the modern scene just clicks so easily into place despite how the scene has evolved over the years.
Speaking of retaining the essence of the original with some modern flourishes, special mention needs to be made for the soundtrack, which is absolutely incredible. It’s arguably the most iconic part of the original games so having all those songs back along with new entries that only enhance the energy make for an OST that is fundamentally brilliant. Within an hour I’d already sought out the playlist on Spotify and downloaded it while checking out some new bands I’d never heard before, so I’d say it did its job pretty well.
The remake of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is absolutely phenomenal. Not only from a purely nostalgic perspective, although I’m sure plenty of folks are enjoying it for that, but the movement, content, tight map designs and general spirit of the game also show that the developers really loved making the game. It’s not only a love-letter to those original games but a blueprint that all future remakes should follow. It’s utterly exceptional and should be played by fans of the franchise and newcomers looking for a genre of game that just doesn’t get made any more.
If there’s any other way I can sell how much I enjoyed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is that after a weekend of playing it, I’m buying myself a skateboard this afternoon so I can finally learn a skill I’ve always been too scared to actually try. That’s about the most amount of praise I could ever throw on a game: It’s prompted some kind of real-world change in me and for that, it’s got to at least be a little special.