The arrival of a new Tony Hawk for this year is no longer a surprise, the news having been released by a professional skater just last week. But what game is it exactly? Drum roll… From a remaster of Pro Skater 1 and 2 (soberly called "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2"), originally released in 1999 and 2000. It's Vicarious Visions, studio behind the recent recast of Crash Bandicoot, who's in charge. Simon Ebejer, second in the box, told us more about the project. And it looks pretty cool.
“Let me first say that I am really excited to talk about the love and care that Vicarious Visions has put into this remaster of Pro Skater 1 and 2 (abbreviated THPS 1 and 2 below , editor's note) ” immediately lets go of Simon Ebejer, second in the studio who recently offered us Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. The tirade seems straight out of the perfect salesperson's manual but the CV of the box speaks for itself. Sony's mascot redesigns, released in 2018 and 2019, have everyone in technical and content agreement.
Especially since Vicarious Visions is not his first Tony Hawk. Between 2001 and 2017, the firm was responsible for porting the series to Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Not really major games but all of good quality. Simon Ebejer says it like this: “It makes us the ideal candidate for this remaster”
Loyalty as the watchword
“One of the challenges of making a faithful remaster is how far you push the limits and what you have to keep intact” engages Simon Ebejer. “It’s important to capture the essence of the game but also to modernize to inspire today's audience”. Modernity, we will come back to this later. But in terms of loyalty, Vicarious Visions seems to have gone the extra mile. On the program for this remaster: all skaters and the nineteen levels of the original games; pieces from the good old soundtrack (we don't know yet if it will be complete); and of course, all the tricks of the time
The studio even went so far as to use the code of the old THPS 1 and 2 (then overseen by Neversoft) to get closer to the good old skateboarding sensations at the dawn of 3D. "We want to deliver an experience that evokes memories for players they love and know" supports Simon Ebejer. Vicarious Visions even has among its ranks a former Neversoft, artistic director on this remaster, having worked on several Tony Hawks. As the screenshots accompanying this article show, the graphic approach to the title will be “realistic” or at least similar to the look of the era in modernization. Good news for fans, most of whom had rejected Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5's clumsy cell shading. But before this painful episode, another candidate had presented himself in the remasters category. And it’s impossible to rule out its proximity to the Vicarious Visions project.
A little modernity, but not too much
Because purists are not without knowing that in 2012, Robomodo – captain of the shipwreck that is THPS 5 – had given birth to a nice remaster of Pro Skater 1 and 2, entitled Pro Skater HD (with even maps of 3 in Paid DLC). The levels were then completely redesigned and a multiplayer mode was added. A question therefore arises quite legitimately: what justifies going back to the box for the remaster of Vicarious Visions? Simon Ebejer first discusses 4K for compatible systems (PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and PC). There will also be more levels than in Pro Skater HD (seven in the basic version of the latter against nineteen for the new recast). And a whole bunch of other stuff, like a more modern interface as well as a more advanced character editor.
Two other points really caught our attention: Vicarious Visions remaster will include a local multiplayer mode in splitscreen (with classic SKATE letters, Graffiti mode, score challenges, all that all) and enough to create your own skatepark. Nothing crazy in itself but big arguments for Tony Hawk fans – the local splitscreen has been waiting in a drawer for years. Besides, going back to the level editor, it will be possible to share his creations online. Players will also be able to compete in a network with the same modes as locally. “All this will give a remaster that is both faithful but which is indeed a 2020 game”
Smoother progress and gameplay
Another rather welcome element: the progression system, which will remain the same as it is fun on a THPS 1 or 2 map. “We didn't want the player to be forced to campaign first and then second” explains Ebejer. Basically: you will keep your stats and characters unlocked regardless of the map, the levels of the two Pro Skater being merged in one game.
This desire to give more flexibility to the progression is also reflected in the gameplay. Simon Ebejer has indeed told us that the revert and wallplant – very practical for extending a combo on a ramp or after a grind – will make their comeback, even if they are absent from the original games (the first trick appeared in Pro Skater 3 and the second in Underground). Note that the revert was already there in Pro Skater HD. “There are certain things that happened later in the series that add real added value to the gameplay” says Simon Ebejer. “So we added them”. On the other hand, the possibility of tackling your board on the ground after a jump as in THPS 5 remains in the closet. No doubt for the best.
In the end, even if this remaster feels warm compared to the Pro Skater HD of 2012 and Vicarious Visions is not ready to take risks, there is reason to be enthusiastic. The return of the splitscreen and certain tricks, coming from episodes other than THPS 1 and 2 for the benefit of the gameplay, are reassuring. And nineteen levels at launch (DLC were not mentioned) as well as an online multiplayer mode including a skatepark editor seems solid enough. It remains to be seen what the title will give on a technical level (fluidity is important in a Tony Hawk). On this point, Simon Ebejer wants to be reassuring. "I can confirm that we take great care to keep the game as clean as possible". Let's hope so. The series would probably not recover from a Pro Skater 5 bis.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Announcement Trailer
By India, Journalist igamesnews.com