TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 1 + 2
By Floris "Kit Floristo" Kupers on April 6, 2021
How do you remake a game that's spent 20 years at the pinnacle of what this industry has to offer? I mean, the original Pro Skater 2 isn't just considered as one of the greatest skateboarding/sport games ever made; it's literally amongst the top three highest-rated video games of all time on Metacritic. You'd probably be better off cutting your losses and photocopying Starry Night at this point, right?
Well, one might think so, but nevertheless, Vicarious Visions and Activision joined forces in 2020 and successfully managed to bring Neversoft's esteemed classics Pro Skater 1 and 2 back to life, allowing new fans to experience the peak of skateboarding video games and old fans to return to play a masterpiece through a modern lens. And now, 7 months after its initial release, it's time for the game to join the ranks of games released for the latest generation of consoles! The level of detail that went into making it all authentic is mind boggling. From the maps to all the individual moves; everything is right on point. But the one thing I absolutely love is the soundtrack, it brings you right into the skateboarding era of the 90s.
One area in which the remake adds even more beyond what the original games had to offer has everything to do with challenges. New challenges have been added to the Pro Skater 1 levels to make them consistent with the longer lists in the Pro Skater 2 ones. This freshens things up for a bit, but the biggest boost comes from the absolutely inexhaustible list of overarching challenges that can be completed across all of the maps, from certain strings of tricks to specific humongous points totals. Completing these ties into a new, overall leveling system that earns you unique skateboards, plus money to drop on other gear for your skaters in the store. Many challenges I achieved accidentally, though others I completed after spotting them while browsing through the menus. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 feels like one of those games where you're always achieving something, whether you know it or not.
The best part of this remake is the integration of both games, every skill you earn carries over from Pro Skater 1 to Pro Skater 2 and vice versa. Both individual games are represented as a separate string of levels and you can progress through them independently, but beyond that everything is merged and accessible from a central hub.
Despite sticking with tradition in terms of the maps, the default controls are actually more akin to those of Pro Skater 3 and 4 rather than the first two games in the series. But before you go crazy, know that the more limited, original movesets are also available and can be toggled on or off for the die-hards who crave an experience precisely like the original games. Reverting back to the original control scheme will remove things like reverts, wallplants, and even manuals if you want, but I'm enjoying the default controls as they are. I have a lot of love for the Skate franchise and I'm fascinated by Skater XL's technicality, but there's also a lot to be said for the big combos and pure arcade thrills and spills this game provides.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is such a tremendous turnaround from 2015's disastrously dismal Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 that it's difficult to believe they share even a shred of DNA. The accessible yet tricky skating is earnest and old-school fun, the wonderful looking levels are lovingly designed odes to the originals, and the music is like a warm embrace of an old childhood buddy. It's pretty easy to be cynical about how rapidly selling us our favourite games again became a central pillar of Activision's business strategy, but when it's this much fun I'm finding it impossible to be sour about it. It turns out going back to basics has been the best step forward Activision has taken with the Tony Hawk series in over a decade.