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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Review: Building on Perfection

/ Oct 5th, 2020 No Comments

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 review

Over the years, I’ve played the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games for hours across various formats – the original release on PlayStation, re-releases on Game Boy Advance and Xbox 360, and via emulators on Android phones. I’ve called Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 one of the best video games of all time. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Pro Skater 2 are as close to perfect as you can get. With the recent release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, those games somehow are even better.

The core elements in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 remake are the same — anyone who played the originals will recognize the levels, skaters and controls. But that’s not to say everything is the same. Modern updates bring fluidity to the movement and beauty to the visuals that just was not possible in 1999. Characters, including the full original roster plus several new skaters from today’s competitors, look distinctly like themselves and the environments have reached a level of visual fidelity that makes you feel like you’re actually skating in the streets of San Francisco or inside a southern California school. The sun-soaked, graffiti-filled walls of Venice Beach never looked better.

The trick system isn’t revamped here, and that’s for the best. It’s not complicated — some may say it’s too simple or even antiquated by modern standards — but the first Tony Hawk games struck the perfect balance between arcade and simulation. This isn’t about precisely guiding a skateboard that is literally at your fingertips, but instead about capturing the sport’s sense of risk versus reward as you attempt to chain together huge combos. The biggest update, which reportedly was requested by Tony Hawk himself, is the addition of revert, as well as the ability to manual in THPS. Revert was introduced in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, and manuals became available in THPS2. These subtle, simple moves feel so natural that it’s hard to believe they weren’t there in the first place.

Core gameplay remains unchanged. Players are dropped into two-minute sessions with certain objectives to achieve within the time frame, including collecting S-K-A-T-E, finding hidden objects and earning high scores. The dual remake does an excellent job of separating THPS 1 and 2 while also making it feel like one game. Unlocking levels is tied to achieving goals in the two separate games, but skater unlocks and challenges sync across both games. Discovering new areas of the map, pulling off new special moves, and earning new equipment, outfits and secret characters (sorry, no Spider-Man) adds layers of satisfaction, especially with the ability to create a skater and use in-game money to purchase gear to customize him or her.

Aside from the career mode, there’s local multiplayer with split-screen, including the return of H-O-R-S-E. You can also play online in a playlist with up to seven other players, and try to progress to the top of online leaderboards. But, most of your time outside of the career will likely be spent in the park creator, where you can put your imagination to the test.

Of course, no Tony Hawk game is complete without a sick playlist. Fortunately, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 brings back most of the soundtrack from the original titles, creating a truly nostalgic masterpiece. There’s nothing like pulling off a 900 and hearing the iconic special move sound effect while Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerilla Radio” blasts through your speakers. New songs added for the remake, including tracks from A Tribe Called Quest and Sublime, blend perfectly with the THPS aesthetic.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is the perfect model for remastering games from the past. It is clear that the legacy of the original THPS games was considered heavily when integrating new elements, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is much more than a fresh coat of paint. The result is a masterful ode to the skateboarding games, a tribute fit for a new generation. Still, it would’ve been nice to see more options for customizing created players and a bit more robust park creation tools without having to unlock so many of them. Aside from those minor complaints, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 somehow builds on perfection. It has me hooked all over again.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was reviewed using a code for the game provided by the publisher.

Ryan Bloom

Ryan Bloom

Chief Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Ryan Bloom is a writer and avid gamer from Orange County. He received a B.A. in Communications with a minor in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 2010. Follow him on Twitter @BloomsTweets.
Ryan Bloom
Ryan Bloom

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