Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review — A Modern McTwist
If you’re at least a passing fan of skateboarding games, you’ll know that there hasn’t been a solid hit in years.
EA’s Skate franchise has been on a long hiatus (that is, thankfully, due to end in the “not too distant” future), the recent contender Skater XL released without an engaging story or motive, and the most recent Tony Hawk entry barely warrants a mention.
That long line of sketchy releases has, fortunately, come to an end with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review — A Modern McTwist
THPS 1+2, for those that don’t live with four wheels and an ear to the ground, is a modern remaster of the first two titles released under the legendary Tony Hawk’s brand.
These cult classics achieved massive success in 1999 and 2000, kickflip-ing the entire genre of skateboarding games into motion.
Like so many others, the Pro Skater games were a big part of my childhood, and I was glad to see the reins had been passed back to Vicarious Visions for these remasters.
My faith in them was well-placed, as I’m glad to report that THPS 1+2 is a faithful and loving remaster of the classics.
Whether it’s hearing Superman by Goldfinger blasting through the speakers, or skating around Tony’s warehouse or the Cali streets and schools, THPS 1+2 brings memories of the early 2000s flooding back.
You’re still dashing around the same bite-sized levels brimming with objects to trick onto, off of, over, and everything in between, all while collecting S-K-A-T-E letters, hidden tapes, and all manner of collectibles in a tight 2-minute time limit.
The arcade thrill of taking your combo down to the wire, pushing it into overtime with one last risky manual combo, only to bail and lose it all or land it triumphantly and sweep the scoring objectives, is alive and kicking.
Win or lose, though, THPS 1+2 will have you diving back in for another 2-minute battle of the boards time and time again.
It's safe to say that Vicarious Visions have done an excellent job of renovating the games that started it all. There are even options to enable each of the classic game's movesets or disable newer songs if you’re a purist that wants everything to feel as vintage as possible.
Of course, there are some necessary modern twists such as a silky smooth 60fps framerate, gorgeous revamps of old lifeless backdrops, and toggleable assists — deserving of a special mention for their service to accessibility — that are always welcome.
Though the accompanying soundtrack might not be entirely authentic — it sports some more modern records that largely fit the original theme, with a few... interesting selections — it still features many of the breakneck classics that you’d expect.
Dead Kennedys, Rage Against the Machine, and many more reprise their late 90s list of catchy earworms that accent your thrills and spills.
At its essence, then, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is the perfect remaster; it brings two classic games to current consoles with gameplay tweaks that are just subtle enough not to mess with your rose-tinted retrospection, but that tighten up an experience that would otherwise feel incredibly dated.
Of course, there’s bound to be a few modernizations thrown in, and these are a mixed bag.
But if rattling off round after round of high-octane boarding to finally top your high score or mop up a few remaining objectives to polish off a plethora of unlockables gets your heart pumping, then I suggest you stop reading and go pick it up.
For those of you not content to skate off into the sunset just yet, lthere are two areas where THPS 1+2 left me feeling a little... underwhelmed.
First, the multiplayer is a nice touch, although it does feel like a bit of an afterthought, especially with local play suffering from a limited player count and reduced framerate. Meanwhile, the entire game has a layer of progression slathered across it that will be far more divisive.
Everything in THPS 1+2 is tied into leveling up your skaters to unlock new boards, apparel, and trinkets. While this does provide a quick dopamine rush the first few times you unlock something new or complete an objective, it quickly becomes apparent that there are hundreds of achievements to unlock that provide very meager rewards.
There’s a surprising lack of microtransactions at launch — which is, obviously, to the game’s credit — but I can’t shake the feeling that they might make a future appearance.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review — The Bottom Line
- From mechanics to music, this is a remaster that just works
- The same old courses look incredible with current-gen graphics and lighting
- Same great 2-minute action that has always been there
- 20 years later, the repetitive gameplay might not be enough to hook you for long
- Achievements and unlockables feel forced and unrelenting
At the time of this review, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is already awash in the glow of overwhelming praise, with an 88 Metacritic average and several perfect scores.
While it certainly deserves enormous praise for revitalizing a legend —especially when compared to 2015’s dismal flop, THPS 5 and the poorly-received Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD— it is worth noting that games have come a long way since the arcade era of the early 2000s.
I don’t really have the patience or desire to slam 30 plays of Roswell in a row anymore just to try and get the Sick Score. Perhaps I’m just getting cynical as I grow older, but arcade games were designed to hook your attention briefly and that’s all THPS 1 + 2 does for me.
None of this should detract from the stellar job Vicarious Visions has done in bringing these cult classics to life on modern consoles, but I can’t help feeling like THPS 1+2 should have been a $20 download, which wouldn’t have needed the frills of several hundred achievements and a mountain of cosmetics to artificially extend its lifespan beyond a 5-hour nostalgia romp.
[Note: Activision provided the copy of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 used for this review.]