For years, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise has been on less-than-radical form. After delivering a handful of the greatest games – skateboarding or otherwise – ever made, the series began to bail hard, culminating in the baffling disappointment of supposed 2015 reboot Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. But now that shiny new remasters of classic late ‘90s and early ‘00s titles are big business on current-gen consoles, here comes the Tony Hawk game that fans have long wanted: an all-singing, all-kickflipping ground-up remake of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (aka Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding) and series high-point Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, bundled together in one righteous package.
To be clear, it’s not the first time the classic early Pro Skater titles have resurfaced – but where 2012’s digital-only Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD on PS3 and Xbox 360 featured erratic physics and a lack of attention to detail, with an incomplete roster of levels from the first two games, the new Pro Skater 1+2 gets the most important thing right: it feels exactly like the original games. Developers Vicarious Visions – who were also behind 2017’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy remake – have emulated the handling and trick-timing perfectly, meaning that original (read: old) fans can sit back and let the muscle memory kick in.
There have been a few subtle tweaks to the gameplay. Mechanics from the later Pro Skater games, including reverts and transfers (near-essential for linking tricks into high-scoring combos), have been implemented – a choice that most players will welcome, though purists have the option to turn them off – and the original collectible cash icons have been streamlined into simple stat points that you can use to boost your key skating abilities. Bails, formerly bloody affairs that left red splatters across the concrete, have been toned down and replaced with a glitching effect, as if you’re an avatar in an Assassin’s Creed-esque simulation, while some of the songs have been switched for radio edits (not a big deal, but you’ll miss swearing along to the chorus of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Guerrilla Radio’).
It looks and feels exactly how you remember the original games – while in reality upgrading them in every way.
For the most part, though, the soundtrack is a belter – always a huge part of the identity of the original games, the majority of the songs from Pro Skater and Pro Skater 2 have made it through, from Goldfinger’s iconic ‘Superman’, to Papa Roach’s thrashy ‘Blood Brothers’, to that version of ‘Bring The Noise’ by Anthrax and Public Enemy. The OG tunes are joined by a significant number of new songs – highlights including Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ and DZ Deathrays’ ‘IN-TO-IT’ – which feel of a piece with the raucous energy of the original tracklist.
The soundtrack isn’t the only place where Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 expertly balances old and new – the roster of skaters features all the familiar favourites, including Steve Caballero, Kareem Campbell, Elissa Steamer and Bucky Lasek, whose character models are not only much more detailed than their basic PS1 counterparts, but capture how all skaters look today, which is a nice touch. They’re now joined by new blood reflective of the most notable skaters of the moment, including Nyjah Huston, Riley Hawk, and Leo Baker – it’s the most diverse and inclusive skater line-up in the series so far, while the create-a-skater mode offers plenty of scope to craft your own identity.
The biggest upgrade, though, is the visual one. Pro Skater 1+2 is really, really, ridiculously good-looking – where Pro Skater 5 felt cartoonish and cheap, Vicarious Visions has spared no expense in bringing the classic levels to life. They’re flawlessy recreated, textured and detailed and bathed in beautiful lighting effects – from the shadows cast as you drop into THPS1’s Warehouse, to the gorgeous perma-sunset of the Venice Beach level in THPS2.
While effectively two games in one, the 19 levels presented here won’t take longtime fans too long to complete – especially for anyone who still remembers the location of every secret tape. And while your skill points now apply equally to every skater, meaning you don’t have to upgrade each one individually, there are character-specific ‘Challenges’ (and the return of the Create-A-Park mode) that should add a reasonable amount of longevity – but really, the joy here is simply in cruising around all the old levels again.
Like the best remakes, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 looks and feels exactly how you remember the original games – while in reality upgrading them in every way. It takes everything that made the Tony Hawk series such a cultural force and so endlessly replayable, with thoughtful additions that make 20-year-old games feel current and relevant. The result isn’t just a game: for a certain generation, it’s a priceless time portal back to the year 2000. Now, when can we get Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3+4?