Go out and skate

User Rating: 10 | Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 PS4

A little background on my history with the “Tony Hawk” game license. I first discovered the series through the “Tony Hawk’s Underground” series of games from 2003 to 2004. They were fun at the time I first discovered them, but when I replayed them again recently, time had not been so kind to these specific installments. I eventually caught up with the original 4 installments in the “Pro Skater” series for a brief little while. Some of these titles definitely aged better than others in terms of the controls. The last time I played a new “Tony Hawk” title at release was all the way back in 2007 with the literally uninspired title of “Tony Hawk’s Project 8”. Something about that game didn’t feel like the “Tony Hawk” games I got addicted to back in the day. A decade and change later, I got my hands on “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2”, Vicarious Visions’ remake of the first two “Tony Hawk” games made by Neversoft both under one unified package.

Considering that I never spent that much time on the original two installments due to struggling on my end with their control systems, I figured this was an ideal time as any to catch up on said titles through their brand-new makeover and practical enhancements for modern players. And on that front, “Pro Skater 1+2” easily surpasses its original predecessors not just in terms of its updated presentation (which eliminates the fog and short draw distance from the original levels), but also with beneficial refinements on the gameplay in comparison to the original versions. They tweaked the controls so you can pull the same type of moves that you could pull in “Pro Skater 3” easily without too much friction in the way. There are plenty of goals to keep you occupied and addicted to the core gameplay. A bunch of high scores to achieve, different objects to collect in the air (S-K-A-T-E, secret tapes, etc.), varieties of tricks to master, landmarks to complete, all that good stuff.

There’s hardly anything more addicting or rewarding in a game than grinding your skateboard on rails, sidewalks, etc. for thousands of points or combos and pulling it off successfully without wiping out or falling off your board. The “Tony Hawk” gaming franchise’s publisher Activision has had a notorious reputation for cracking the whip on developers to create a new installment out every year back in the day, just like they’re doing for “Call of Duty” now. Having said that, I commend them and Vicarious Visions for bringing “Tony Hawk” back in the spotlight in the best way possible, especially after “Pro Skater 5” almost single-handedly killed the entire franchise. “Pro Skater 1+2” marks a triumphant comeback for the “Tony Hawk” license that goes back to its roots while also providing plenty of additional content and goals for us to play with. It keeps what made the original titles click, while also adding some welcome new elements to those that are new to the series.

As I stated before, it takes the added skateboarding elements that worked in later installments (namely “Pro Skater 3”) and incorporates them here to make the gameplay in the remake more palatable and updated to modern standards. I can use the analog sticks more easily than in the original titles, where you couldn’t automatically use said analog controls unless you went to the control options menu beforehand. The controls remain as fluid and responsive as they were during the PS2 era (that’s still a compliment), even when you think the tasks you’re trying to pull off are not achievable. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t come across more than one situation within the gameplay where I thought there was a problem with the mapping of the goals. I thought some items were either too high or near impossible to reach due to the limitations of the level I was in. Most of the time, however, such problems are easily solved through updating your character stats and improving your skater’s performance.

Once you remember to continually upgrade the skills of your skaters (specifically ollie, air, speed, hangtime), it will make a big difference in the long run and you’ll be able to better progress through each level’s primary goals. Also, in a day and age when local multiplayer options are few and far in between, even when I rarely have anyone over to play with me (because COVID-19 and other things), I always appreciate it when a game still has time to put in local multiplayer of any kind. I still feel that even in a world where almost everything is achievable online, especially gaming, adding such things as local offline two-player modes will go a long way in extending the shelf life of a game. And more often than not, “Tony Hawk” has always been a franchise that is very easy to get into and play, regardless of your background on the skating world in general. Anyone can have fun roaming around these levels and pulling off tricks and maneuvers they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do in real life.

Disagree with me all you like on my take of remakes within the film world being something of a waste of time. But we can at least agree on this much: the past few years have marked the golden age of remakes within the gaming world. And between Capcom’s “Resident Evil 2”, Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy VII Remake”, Sony’s 2018 take on “Shadow of the Colossus”, Activision’s remakes of the “Spyro” and “Crash” trilogies, and now “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2”, there’s more than enough good reasons as to why I believe it so. In the case of “Pro Skater 1+2”, it didn’t need to do a whole lot to stand out from the games currently being released around this time. It just needed a few tweaks from its original two titles, put them in one package, add a few more bonuses, and it was all set for success. Add on top of that the fact that it only has a $40 price tag as opposed to $60 or more, on games that arguably don’t live up to that amount, makes the final product worth every penny of its purchase price. Go out and skate.