I tried skateboarding once when I was 12. I fell off the board and fell into someone’s gravel driveway and my friends wouldn’t stop calling me “Stony Hawk”.
I loved loved LOVED Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater when I was a kid. While I was never into the sport itself (please see above) that never stopped me from playing the ever-loving hell out of them. While I never got to play 3 and 4 due to…I dunno, I DID get back into the series with Underground 1 and 2 and played them just as, if not longer than the original 2 games. After that though? …ehhhhhhhh? I never felt like picking up any of the other games because I heard they were either mediocre or just flat out bad. I did rent Pro Skater 5 when it came out and that’s all I have to say about that. After the franchise was dragged through the mud and beaten with a shovel I more or less gave up hope it would ever return, choosing instead to relieve the series with the 4 games I grew up playing.
Then Activision decided to say “Hey we’re doing THIS now!” and here we are.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is a remake of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 developed by Vicarious Visions, who were responsible for the EXCELLENT Crash Bandicoot remakes, and published by the Devil’s favorite son, Activision. It’s more or less meant to be a return to form for the series, to bring it back to its roots. I’m actually really glad they went with remaking the first two games as opposed to creating an entirely new one because 1. It’s easier to remake games that were already good and just tweet/modernize the physics a bit to bring it into the modern age and 2. These were my favorites growing up and I am a slave to my nostalgia. While I’m sure a lot of people are getting somewhat tired of these modern remakes, especially from Activios, I’m honestly all for them. They have a damn good track record and this game is no different. THPS 1+2 feels fucking unreal, dude.
THPS 1+2 plays almost exactly like how I remember Tony Hawk playing, most notably with Underground because of how smooth it feels. I admit I am by no means an expert on this franchise and I also haven’t played Pro Skater 1 or 2 in years but given how the control schemes for 1 and 2 are unlockable after completing certain thresholds, I feel more confident in my statement. You’re wrong, I’m not. The game features the same general playstyle as the previous games, just slightly tweaked so it feels less wonky. You can still Ollie, perform grab tricks, flip your board, manual on the ground, and grind rails the same way you could in the olden days and there is NOTHING wrong with that. Sometimes you don’t need to innovate and change what isn’t broken “COUGH” PRO SKATER 5 “COUGH“.
The game retains the same fast-paced, “arcade-like” feel of the classic series and keeps it’s difficult to learn, hard to master type of combo system. Pulling off advanced maneuvers and large combos feel INSANELY satisfying and the game encourages you to try as many different tricks as possible. The game also brings back every single park from the first two games along with their original goals and these provide a great challenge for players and provide them something to work towards as they play through the game. I’m a fan of ALL of them (fuck off Downhill) but it was great to see many of these iconic parks redesigned and given even more personality than before. The only thing that drags them down a bit is that the new physics engine can be a tad wonky with certain angles and ramp types so you can sometimes go flying in a direction you didn’t plan on, but I admit this may be a personal issue and that I may never have gotten used to it. This isn’t a complaint per se, but just know that some aspects of the game may take some getting used to if you want to fully master it.
Now, the beautiful thing about THPS is that any average player can get through the majority of the game’s goals with relative ease but if you want to get those large scores and more advanced objectives down pat, you need to learn the more advanced mechanics in the game, which to be fair THPS 1+2 doesn’t do that great a job of teaching to the player. Don’t get me wrong the game DOES have a decent tutorial that goes over the basics along with a few technical stuff, but it never shows you how to do the double tap tricks (like a Christ Air) or even how to No Comply/Boneless, which are REQUIRED THINGS YOU NEED TO DO to get some of the game’s collectibles. This is especially true since a lot of the individual skater goals require a crazy amount of skill and mastery to complete, especially the park gaps Jesus Christ. I think a few extra missions in the tutorial would have gone a long way towards educating newer players so they can get the most out of the game in that regard.
Going off of those individual goals I mentioned actually, that’s something I adore about THPS 1+2. In the old games, you could pick whatever skater you wanted and just play through the game with them, but it never got you anything outside of that skater’s demo tape and MAYBE an unlockable character. In THPS 1+2 every skater has their own goal list to complete and getting through it not only grants you profile experience and money, meaning you can unlock and buy more stuff for your creat-a-skater and create-a-parks, but you can unlock more boards to sue for that skater AND your C.A.S. This brings a crazy amount of replay value to the game as it encourages players to try out each skater and experiment with different skate styles and attributes. Some skaters are only good with street style while some excel at grinding, and I think that’s great since in the old games I ONLY used my C.A.P, which I’m happy about since the character creator in this game SUUUUUCKS. In concept it’s fine, you have a decent amount of options I guess but it pales in comparison to stuff like Underground which lets you mess with almost every aspect of your character and edit EVERY article of clothing. It’s fine, but it could be better. Create-A-Park actually blows it out of the water because you can make the most insane things in it AND share it online for other players to mess with.
Overall, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is a very good action sports game and is well worth your time, ESPECIALLY if you have fondness over the originals. The gameplay is damn near perfect, it has an incredible updated art style, there’s limitless replay value with the challenge lists and multiplayer. It really a great all-around package given its budget price. While there are a few issues here and there, mainly with frustrating physics and a slight learning curve, I both player new and old will find something to love here. I don’t know if the Pro Skater series is going to continue after this, a lot of the pros in this game ARE pretty old after all, but if it doesn’t I think this is a great swan song for the series. If it does continue though? I have really high hopes for it. Vicarious Visions did an amazing job with this game and I wouldn’t mind seeing them get the keys to the franchise.
Actually wait. Spider-Man isn’t unlockable? Never mind, game sucks.