Forget the weird peripherals, bad sequels, and questionable ports that defined Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in the series’ later years. Instead, remember the glory days of the late ’90s and early’ 00s because this is where Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 come in, by going back to the first two games in the franchise and modernizing them with changes big and small in The Developer Vicarious Visions reminds us why we fell in love with this series in the first place.
The overall structure is completely preserved: you choose levels based on different locations around the world, then jump on your skateboard to complete goals like getting the high score before the time limit, collecting letters to spell “skate”, and perform tricks in Specific Areas. Vicarious Visions largely keeps the best parts of the game intact, but various improvements, including a larger arsenal of tricks, take these classics to new heights. Stringing tricks together feels amazing thanks to smoother controls, and the modern graphics look great in motion.
While these games are fun regardless of nostalgia, as a fan of the original games I loved the way this release nods over and over to the classic versions. With every single real skater from the first two games, an advanced mode to create a skater, and almost every song from the classic soundtracks, this is a people-friendly remaster bundle. Stepping back in Tony Hawk’s shoes and crushing a half pipe when Goldfinger’s “Superman” came over my speakers brought a smile to my face. However, this bundle also contains some current skaters and a huge selection of new songs. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 land on a sweet spot thanks to the masterful mix of old and new.
All levels from the original games are also available, including beautiful reworks for the latest technology. I was always impressed by how beautiful these new environments look. The stages feel true to the versions you played 20 years ago while also showing off the looks of new creations. Perhaps most surprising is how well the levels hold up today. Skating the streets of San Francisco and New York still feels great, and the timeless designs of the warehouse, hangar, and Chicago Skatepark make me return again and again. The levels offer fun paths that you can use to chain massive combos together, as well as huge ramps to start, tons of rails and edges to sand and lots of objects to punch through. The only downside to these stages is that some of the objects you are supposed to destroy, like the school bells or the “No Skating” signs in Minneapolis, are more difficult to spot because there is a lot more going on with the graphics.
If you are looking for new places to skate, you can create the park of your dreams. With a variety of elements, including smart objects that you can bend at multiple points of articulation, the intuitive creation tools make it easier than ever to translate the park from your mind to the screen. Once you’re done, you can upload your creation to share with other players. I loved exploring the community feature. My favorite parks were the crazy ideas, like an automated roller coaster ride you can ride on, rather than the more traditional skate parks. Unfortunately, I sometimes got stuck in objects in parks that were created because the parts don’t fit together as perfectly as in the levels created by the developer.
In addition to sharing your parks, you can also take part in online games. In the hectic and fun online sessions, you’ll compete in a random, objective, quick-hit playlist with eight players competing for the top spot. These goals are as simple as getting the best score within the time limit or landing the best single combo, or as simple as Graffiti mode where you try to mark as many objects as possible by performing tricks. I love that you essentially jump into the next game as soon as you finish the previous game. Players can join and exit seamlessly without everyone else having to return to a lobby. While I like the structure of the online game, the experience quickly wears off due to repetitive objectives and the inability to play some of the local multiplayer offerings like HORSE and Tag online. Even though I had made money for cosmetics in the skate shop, I didn’t feel motivated to stay longer than a few laps at a time.
With Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 and 2, the experience of playing through these games feels fresh and up-to-date again. With contemporary graphics, fluid gameplay, and the iconic soundtrack you will remember, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise could have a bright future again thanks to this great blast from the past.