I breathe deeply the pungent fumes of nostalgic merriment. My cup overrunneth with perfectly tuned arcade gameplay and memories of 3D Doritos, not being able to ollie very well, and the Vans skatepark in Orlando, Florida. I am home.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 proves that classics really can hold up. They hold up so well, in fact, that despite having only scant memories of actually playing the first two games (I really got into the series with 3) I was busting out combos worth hundreds of thousands of points within literal minutes of booting it up.
“Home” for me might be more Foundry than Warehouse, but since Vicarious Visions have taken it upon themselves to bring over the reverts, wallrides, and flatland from some of the later titles, I had no trouble translating my latent skills to these reboots. If you prefer to rock the older, more limited moveset of yore, there’s an option for that, too.
I can’t stress enough how right Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 feels. The snappiness, controls, everything about the way it behaves feels like a perfect recreation of my memories of the Tony Hawk titles. I’m not sure how newcomers to the series will react to the absurdly arcadey physics or breakneck speeds of this particular brand of skating game, but veterans should feel immediately comfortable.
What’s almost as impressive as the game-feel are the graphics that breathe new life into old locales. The spaces you’ll skate around no longer feel like incidental skateparks but truly repurposed areas that feel natural. Mall, for instance, is appropriately run-down and derelict, making it more logical as a skater’s paradise.
Some new bells and whistles have been added to further modernize the experience like challenges, a shop for apparel and gear, and a levelling system. These are largely unobtrusive and can be safely ignored, but I actually enjoyed racking up points and tackling some of the weirder challenges for unlocks. Plus, get enough levels and you can get a board with a GIF for a deck. Pretty cool, right?
There’s also no lack of oddball unlockables that I won’t spoil here. Rest assured, the trademark goofiness of the Tony Hawk franchise is alive and well. The atmosphere is what I can only describe as the cover of Green Day’s “Dookie” in video game form.
What’s atmosphere without music? To my knowledge, almost all of the classics remain intact, along with some new additions to satiate the zoomers. After all, they’re our only hope at any kind of second-wave of skate culture, so I’ll happily jam to some newer songs if it gets younger audiences into the scene. The title screen opens, of course, with Goldfinger’s “Superman.”
The new multiplayer mode might be my only real gripe with the remaster. You’re dropped into a session with other players and just kinda.. skate around until a game mode starts. Some of these are fun, like chasing a high score, but some are real stinkers. Be the first person to land a 100,000 point combo? It’s over in about four seconds. I wish there was a way to host a private game of H-O-R-S-E with a few friends instead of playing Game Mode Roulette in a public lobby.
I actually had so much fun playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 that I had trouble seeing everything before writing my review. How does that add up? Well, I spent about two hours trying to get the platinum score on Downhill Jam, the worst map to ever grace the series, and about another two and a half hours getting the platinum on Downtown, the second-worst map in the series. If they’re the worst maps, why did I play them so much? Because I was having fun. Restarting my run eight seconds in is fun. Bailing on a 700,000+ point combo is fun. I swear.
My own mental blocks aside, the sense of progression is smooth as ever – complete some challenges, unlock stat points, and move on to the next level. By somewhere in THPS 2, you’ll realize you’re landing combos you never thought possible a few maps ago.
It’s that perfect blend of personal improvement and raw stat increases that makes these re-releases so addicting. There’s always a new challenge to tackle, a new deck to unlock, some line to improve. And if nothing else, it’s just enjoyable to pop into for an hour here and there to goof around. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 proves that even divorced from battle pass progressions and massively online worlds, games can be just as engaging when they focus on bite-sized sessions packed with fantastic gameplay. It’s a journey home, but more than that I hope it’s a sign of things to come.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 Pro version of the game. A copy was provided by Activision.
A revitalization of two classic games, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 proves that even in an industry laden with battle passes and massively multiplayer offerings, gameplay is king. Two minutes have never gone by so fast.