Feeling younger in my mind.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

When you think of the heyday of Tony Hawk titles, you probably think back to the games prior to weird skateboard controllers and the abysmal Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5. You think back to a time in your childhood when you would turn on your old CRT television, power on the PlayStation, and digitally pull off some sick tricks while Goldfinger's Superman blasted in the background. The first couple of Tony Hawk games hold a special place in a lot of our hearts and minds. They not only helped to define an entire generation of gaming, but an entire generation of game players. The music tracks were iconic. The levels were iconic. The gameplay was iconic. The games, as a whole, were iconic.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 takes us right back to that period in our lives. A period where there was no story. A period in which it is just you, a controller, two minutes, and endless fun. Though the game has been modernized in several key aspects, the core gameplay remains exactly as you remember it: Amazingly entertaining. By taking us back to the first two titles that started it all, we are reminded just how great these games are and, thanks to a tremendous job by Vicarious Visions, we are treated to one of the best remakes I have ever experienced.

The core gameplay loop is just as you remember it: You hop into various levels that are loosely based around certain themes or geographic locations. You have two minutes to complete as many objectives as possible, and you either move on to the next level or you retry the current level. Each level tasks you with high scores, pulling off a decent combo score, collecting letters to spell out "SKATE," finding level-specific collectibles, and pulling off specific tricks at specified locations. This is the gameplay of Tony Hawk distilled down into its purest form and, in my opinion, its most enjoyable form.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

Enhancing the already iconic gameplay are a variety of new tricks and abilities, including reverts and wall plants that can be used to extend your combo. In addition to all the original levels returning, all the original skaters from the first two games make a return. There are even a few special hidden and bonus characters to unlock. If you do not feel like skating as Tony Hawk himself or any of his skating pals, you can create a custom character. However, just be warned that outside of a huge number of clothing and board customization options, the actual character creation portion is a bit too limited for my liking.

Also returning is much of that same great music that you fell in love with back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Yes, this includes artists like Goldfinger, Lagwagon, Rage Against the Machine, and The Vandals. I'm not lying when I say that I had the biggest, dumbest grin on my face the first time I loaded up this game and Superman started blasting in my headphones at the title screen. I felt like a teen again.

While not every song from the original games made it into this remake, those that did are complimented by a bevy of new songs from artists that fit in perfectly with the others. Some of the "new" artists in the remake include Sublime, Billy Talent, Machine Gun Kelly, Less Than Jake, and the list goes on. Back in the day, the soundtracks to the Tony Hawk games helped to define my musical tastes. Here in late 2020, the same thing is happening again with a number of these artists finding a spot on my ever growing "Thumbs Up" playlist on YouTube Music. The new songs once again range from punk, hip-hop, to rock, meaning that there is a little something there for everyone.

Every returning level has been given a massive graphic overhaul. Each now sports a wonderful HD look that constantly impressed me at every turn, grind, and kickflip. The game also supports high refresh rate monitors along with ultrawide resolutions. The visuals may look impressive, but the level designs are almost exactly how you remember them, complete with secret areas. Every level has numerous ramps, half-pipes, quarter-pipes, rails, and this, that, and the other where you can pull off your favorite tricks. Each level, even the downhill ones, hold up insanely well even by modern day standards. Load times are near instant, which takes some of the sting out of having to retry a level a few dozen times to nail that perfect line. As a bonus, the music continues to play throughout each screen load, meaning no songs will ever be cut off unless you manually skip ahead by clicking in the right stick.

THPS1+2 Old vs New

Thanks to the addition of reverts and wall plants in the original levels, entirely new combo lines are ripe for discovery by players new and old. I will note here that you can disable those new techniques in the options menu if you desire more of a faithful gameplay experience. I, however, kept them on because those features that were introduced after the first game are just too darn good to ever get rid of once you have gotten used to using them.

If you ever tire of the pre-built tracks, an optional custom park feature is included with the game. You can create and share your personal skate heaven with the world, or just create something whacky like an automated "rollercoaster" where all you need to do is hold down the grind button. Yes, one of those exist already in the game. Even if you do not want to make your own level, you can always just play the levels that other players shared. You even have the option to remix those custom levels to tweak them to your own personal tastes if you so desire. The course maker seems robust enough that we should hopefully see some truly inspired creations as time progresses.

As making custom levels really is not my thing, I instead took to the other online feature built into Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2: The competitive online modes. These are a series of never-ending matches with up to eight players all trying to win several rapid-fire objectives. Some of these game types include the tried and true graffiti mode where your goal is to trick off as many objects as possible and "tag" an object (such as a ramp) in your color. Perform high scoring tricks and combos off objects to steal them from other players. The person that tagged the most objects with their color wins the round. It is a simple concept but with eight players going at it at once, the action will get intense. After that may come a simple round of competing to see who has the high score after a couple of minutes. The online modes automatically cycle through various levels and objectives without the need to constantly re-queue. It is very much a hop-in and hop-out game mode, perfect for spending a few minutes in or a few hours. You do earn a small bit of money to spend in the virtual skate shop in these modes. There is also a local split-screen option that I was unable to test. Just know that split-screen is an option in this game.

Several accessibility options are also present in the game. While there are no cheat codes for the game (that I am aware of), there are several toggles that you can enable to help new players get their footing. These options include toggling on perfect grinds, perfect manuals, no bails, and always having your SPECIAL meter full. There are also a few bonus options available that are more for the fun of it. These include various visual overlays such as a Game Boy style filter or sepia. There are also options for tiny skaters or gigantic skaters if you are into those sorts of things.


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

Final Say
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is very nearly the perfect remake. Without a doubt this is the definitive version of both titles currently available. It is welcoming to those who have never played the game while being an immediate blast from the past with us old farts that spent their formative years playing these games for hours at a time. Every course are wonderful blasts from the past that have held up to the test of time in their designs. Every musical track, old and new, are perfect compliments to pulling off sick tricks and high scoring combos. If I were to fault it for anything, I would have to say that I would have loved to have seen a built-in photo mode. As it is, trying to capture screenshots of the game while playing is quite difficult. In addition, I also found the custom character designs to be a bit lacking. There are just a few preset character choices to select from. However, what it lacks in character creation, it more than makes up for with the number of options available for clothing, logos, skateboard deck designs, and even wheel designs. If you have even a passing interest in the game, I strongly urge you to pick it up. This is the game you remembered and love, now wrapped up in a lovely HD graphical bow and presented with a cherry on top.

Really, the only question that remains on my mind is whether we will see Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and 4 get the same treatment.



Score
5 out of 5 stars



Additional Information
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2
    • Developed by: Vicarious Visions
    • Published by: Activision Publishing
  • Price: Starting at $39.99 (USD) via Epic Games Store (affiliate link), PlayStation Store, and the Microsoft Store
    • Also available in Digital Deluxe ($49.99) and Collector's Edition ($99.99)
  • Platform reviewed on: PC
    • Reviewed on: i7-6700K, 32GB RAM at 2666, GTX 1080 Ti, and installed to a Crucial MX500 1TB SSD
  • Release Date: September 4, 2020
  • ESRB: T for Teen (Lyrics)
  • This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.


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