As we approach yet another new console generation launch, it is a great time to get all nostalgic and look aback across previous generations for those game defining titles that captivated the hearts and minds of gamers so much so that now, nearly two decades in the case of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2, still feel special with a want to play them again. This is why and how a good quality remake or a remastered version can bring such joy to us old-timers who still have those games in our hearts and I can quite happily say that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 delivers on everything fans of the originals could hope as well as bringing it to a whole new generation.
The team at Vicarious Visions has done a fantastic job of remastering the original two games in the iconic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series by not only keeping what made those games so loved by fans intact but being smart enough to look at the later games and bring some of those elements into the gameplay of Pro Skater 1 & 2 to help refine these early entries for those who still remember the later games. For me, I can always tell when a remaster is going to do well if within the first ten minutes of playing it I am transported back to those feelings and memories of playing the original game and here it did it right from the main menu and throughout and it just achieves everything you need a remastered or remake of a classic game to do. Blending the essentials of a remaster and a remake has absolutely paid off here.
Bringing the sport of Skateboarding to a video game was revolutionary with the Tony Hawk’s series as it managed to genuinely bring every element of it into a accessible and playable game experience which considering the intricacies of the moves and tricks you can perform was quite someone on the original PlayStation console. But now in 2020 that impressive control system is back, refined by some additional tricks and elements from the later games and what you still have now is fantastic brilliant game that allows anyone to pick up a controller, playthrough the exceptional tutorial will pick up the basics needed to jump right into the action.
Presentation wise, this is a very slick and smooth title that brings back both original games together where players can select either game to playthrough the original skate courses, all of things are intact and wonderfully kept as fans would remember them. Visually bringing them both into 2020 has made all the courses and animations look fantastic as anyone who did play the originals will no doubt welcome more smooth curves to blocky pixels. It looks incredible especially on the Xbox One X but where it really excelled for me, and I cannot even imagine the cost to bring this together, but almost the entire original soundtrack is back as well along with some fresh tracks but it is the original songs that bring the very essence of how nostalgia can work when used well. All these pieces come together so incredibly well that for me, this is easily one of the best remasters/remake titles to date.
So, for anyone who is new to the series and wondering what it is you actually do, both games, Pro Skater 1 and 2, have a series of courses which gives the player 2 minutes to complete as many challenges to complete in order to unlock the next course. This can be earning a certain combo score or just basically completing a set number of tricks. Courses still have the secrets and collectibles to discover, all of which are still in the same place on the maps as the original games such as finding all the letters to spell out SKATE or finding video tapes. This style allows players to quickly learn the tricks and play mechanics very quickly and soon you will be pulling off high scoring combos with the fanciest of moves and even if it takes you a while, there is enough here to allow players of all skill levels to get something from the gameplay and it will keep you coming back for more.
I really appreciated how your progress now carries on to either game so all unlocks go with you across the two games and you can float between the two at your leisure making this a brilliant celebration which brings two titles into one without having to bring you out of one in order to load into the next and leaving behind those very things you have worked hard to pick up. The Career mode allows you to earn money to unlock more cosmetics such as skate board styles and clothing for your own skater when you unlock the ability to create your own skater and whilst the customisation is still fairly basic, I personally would not want the RPG detail of creating a character style to something that is just about focusing on gameplay whilst adding a personal touch to your own skater.
I do find it a shame that once you have completed the Career Mode that there is no way to reset the progress and do it all again mainly because it is just so much fun to play through so getting to do it all over again would be additional fun and maybe this is something that could be added going forward as I have seen many others all asking for the same thing. Online wise, well it’s a tad basic right now during this initial launch period with casual and ranked modes where players race to score the highest combo possible but the developer team have confirmed they have plans to expand this experience going forward including private lobbies so just you and your mates can go old school together. Create your own skate park returns and is fluid and works well as you put your own trick stages together and now online, you can both upload and share your own creations as well as downloading others from the community to play yourself.
Overall, this really is an excellent trip down memory lane for anyone who remembers the original games whilst bringing it to a new audience of fans who will find the challenge and rewarding gameplay instantly engrossing. I appreciate that the developers at Vicarious Visions resisted the urge to just remake everything and instead made a conscious effort to keep as much of the original games features exactly how they were and simply refining and streamlining instead of over thinking what needed or could be changed for a new audience. A true example of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” which is something other remasters could well have benefitted from.
This was a fantastic trip down memory lane and playing some of the iconic skate parks like ‘School’ and listening to the original soundtrack sounding and looking even better on my Xbox One X and TV system of 2020 rather than the CRT TV and PlayStation One from 2001 and yeah, the value of this is certainly not lost on me!