In my demo Impressions from a couple weeks ago, I spoke very, very highly about what I saw from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2. It seemed to hit on every possible opportunity, excelling at what made the series so beloved and banishing the missteps that hurt the franchise’s most recent titles. My key takeaway and concern was how to breathe longevity and replay value into a remaster of two 20-year-old games. In my opinion, Activision and Vicarious Visions did a tremendous job doing exactly that while staying faithful to the original, so let’s talk about why that is in this Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 review.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 Review – What I Like
Balance Of New And Old
Make no mistake about it, if you are a fan of the original series, you will love the remake. Remember, this is built off of the games’ original source codes, so muscle memory will kick in. You will remember where certain collectibles are and many secrets will present themselves anew. The original crew of skaters are back alongside some of skateboarding’s brightest young stars. This is a microcosm of the game itself: seamlessly weaving new content into a timeless masterpiece.
For newcomers, this is an arcade-style skateboarding experience that rewards high scores for long, varied combos. The game’s core modes are two-minute timed experiences. Within those two minutes, you rack up as many points as you can while achieving various objectives. Puzzles are the perfect level of complexity, and latter levels demand a number playthroughs to fully grasp and understand everything.
Each skater ladders up to a singular set of Skate Tours objectives. Once you collect SKATE or the Secret Tape for a level, for example, you do not have to do it again with another. The same holds true with gaps. This combats some of the repetition of previous games where players would have to play through the entire Classic Mode with every character to unlock everything. Instead, the roster of skaters have their own specific challenges (using their specific Specials in a single trick, combo requirements on certain gaps in certain parks, collecting all of their stat points, etc.) that will take a while but do not mandate playing the entire game over and over again. There are Speed Run modes that encourage replay as well, and just as the game feels to be wearing out its welcome there is something new to try and pursue.
This game flat-out looks great. Levels look incredible, with Skatestreet and Marseilles in particular as standouts. Colors pop and exceptional lighting creates totally different atmospheres, which makes each new environment feel unique. The cozy rain falling around the tiny blue Burnside skate park is a great departure from the vast outdoors and autumn leaves falling in NYC. Even as someone who has played this series for decades, I found myself frequently thinking “was this in the original?” Go back and watch some gameplay footage of the original THPS 1 and 2 titles to truly get a grasp of how impressive the level remasters are.
Skater physics are subtle improvements that do not take away from gameplay in the slightest and instead provide more realistic weight to animations. The board spinning in flip tricks, landing after an ollie, and shorter ollies to lower rails are just a few examples of how much smoother this game is in comparison to the earlier franchise entries’ magnetic and occasionally robotic animations.
Classic, Satisfying Gameplay
Why else would so many gamers be jumping at the opportunity to play a title built off an engine that was perfected decades ago? This is real, authentic and appropriate THPS gameplay. Manuals, reverts and spine transfers breathe new life into levels that could have otherwise felt like smaller, cramped arenas from three console generations ago.
Instead, larger levels feel more expansive while smaller levels practically goad you into combos that reach the millions. It really works well due to the additional mechanics and makes the game feel much, much more than a remake.
Music And Sound Effects
It feels so good to hear the original music as you drop-in on any level. The censored songs can be a bit goofy (Police Truck in particular), but they had to do what they could to keep the Teen rating. Plus, the older games were censored, too. Those new to the series will be overrun with sounds that reflect the game’s art, creating a fully immersive crash course in skateboarding culture.
The actual skateboarding sounds are improved as well, especially present when grinding or coming into contact with different grindable surfaces. Otherwise, many of the sound effects from the original games (such as when you land a Special) are intact.
Local And Online Multiplayer
Split-screen and online multiplayer both made it into the remaster as well. Multiplayer drops you into a park with a handful of other skaters, free skating until one of the many classic modes begins. Matches are as long or as short as you want them to be as skate parks occasionally rotate and new players are funneled in.
I played multiple sessions where I dominated the lobby for a while without playing at my best and then others where I found myself looking up at impossibly high scores. It encourages more practice and demonstrates a higher ceiling to which players can strive, furthering the “one more session” itch that the game already does such an unparalleled job of creating.
Create-A-Park is back and, so far, is very impressive. Other users’ creations are searchable, and there are a number of created park categories for players to browse. It feels very similar to Super Mario Maker 2 and MLB The Show’s vaults in terms of functionality, and players can “remix” already made parks with their own twists.
There is still a park complexity limit featured here, but it does not appear to be too restrictive from my experience. I am sure it will become an issue for someone else’s complicated project, but I found no problems trying to max it out. And, yes, there are additional park pieces that you can buy with your hard-earned in-game money.
From the start, the game does something that many have clamored for since the series’ inception: tracks everything you do. Your highest scores, your longest combos, the amount of flip tricks landed — everything. To reward players for these accomplishments, there are tons of per-skater and overall challenges that award XP, money for gear, unique decks and outfits. This provides some significant depth for post-game completionists because they could occupy players’ time for many moons.
How long do you think it would take to reach 10K flatland tricks? Challenges are very welcomed additions that make the game feel very modern.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 Review – What I Don’t Like
This series was known for ridiculous Create-A-Skater options. This time around, players have four slots, and as you progress through the game, XP and money earned allow you to purchase more options. However, actual customization options are limited to a handful of preset faces. If you were expecting even Tiger Woods PGA Tour or WWF No Mercy-level depth, you will be disappointed. Create-A-Skater customization feels more like a trip to Vans or Zumiez than anything else and, tragically, there are not too many unlockables that give this mode enough legs.
Still, this is my lone “major” gripe with the game, so I still think you have plenty to look forward to.
Ultimately, the crux of what makes the game so incredible is also a colossal victory for sports gaming altogether. This game is a literal revival and remake of the first two games, but with a modern fresh coat of paint. How often do sports gamers clamor for these sorts of releases, and how often do publishers botch the execution? How often do we daydream about the NBA/NFL Street series or WWF No Mercy being revived in this exact same manner? THPS is a triumph for the gaming industry as a whole, proving once again that timeless gameplay is exactly that.
As if that were not enough, the game retails for $40 instead of the usual $60, with a $10 Digital Deluxe upgrade that provides additional cosmetic upgrades. At this time, there is no DLC, season pass or microtransactions. Hopefully, sales are as strong as the game’s critical reception to encourage more of these titles in the future. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 is worth every penny, and I think I speak for many when I say that I cannot wait for a THPS 3 and 4 remake as well.
Full Disclosure: Activision provided us with a digital code for review.