Do we have rose-tinted glasses on when it comes to Tony Hawk’s iconic Pro Skater entries, or were they really as good as we remember them? Well, Vicarious Visions (who have managed to successfully remake the recent Crash Bandicoot trilogy and Spyro the Dragon series), have McTwisted the old games into one rebuilt-from-the-ground up experience, and it’s safe to say that while the industry has moved on, there are some things that never get old.
After many trial-and-error attempts, the winning formula of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise has always been its accessibility and level-design, and Vicarious Visions has gone back to harness exactly that for the remake.
While other games in the skateboarding genre, like EA’s Skate franchise, evolved the technicality of the trick mechanics, the allure of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater formula was always about mastering the environment – and it’s taken us years to realise this. Thankfully, it’s clear that Vicarious Visions have understood what made these games so beloved in the first-place. So, rather than getting distracted with convoluted objectives, THPS 1 + 2 just feels good. From opening valves on Downhill Jam, to kickflipping over taxis in Downtown, the objectives feel as entertaining as they did back then. Seeing the flashing S-K-A-T-E letters is still thrilling, as spotting one on a rooftop, scratching your head, and then re-learning how to get to it, is still the amazing pursuit it once was.
As with the objectives, the foundation of the gameplay remains the same – the game manages to feel like it did back in 1999, with the layout and trick mechanics all working in the same fashion, albeit a little tighter and more in line with THPS 2. Capturing this nostalgic element of the game is clearly the goal, and if rolling down that first ramp into the iconic Warehouse level while Goldfinger’s Superman blasts in the background doesn’t bring a smile to your face, you’re a robot.
The game’s biggest upgrade obviously comes in the form of a graphical polish, which looks great and having the old game’s visuals burnt into everyone’s memory gives a good frame of reference for how much it has evolved. The most notable change is the lighting, which now beams across the environments and sun-soaks certain areas of the ramps, which really does look stunning; and the gameplay does run at a silky smooth rate which does justice to just how good the flow of these games are.
If there’s anything the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2 Remake has, it’s heart. Activision and Vicarious Visions have put in a lot of love in to jog the memories of longtime fans, and it shows. The levels are beautifully reimagined, but true to their original layouts; while the light-hearted fun, stellar soundtracks, and undeniable flow of the first two games are all still present. This is a must-play for those looking to dive back into the golden era of Tony Hawk games.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2 Remake is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC on 4 September 2020.