If you’re a gamer and in your 20s or 30s and I mention the name Tony Hawk, you’ll understand not only the influence he’s had on the world and entire generation of skateboarding but also the evolution of video games as a whole. Casting my mind back to 1999, an entire 21 years ago, I was 14 years of age. Skateboarding wasn’t a big deal in the UK in that era, at least not where I lived in Manchester in England. My childhood was spent knocking around parks, kicking a football around (Soccer for you Americans out there) and rushing home after school to power up my Playstation 1. Remember the Playstation 1? One of the greatest consoles of all time and I believe the kick-start of the future of gaming.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater paved the way for a total of twelve titles in the series with four spin-offs and five different remakes/repackages with the current one being Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2. The success of the Tony Hawk titles isn’t to be ignored as they were certainly gigantic in terms of sales and giving people a real sense to try out skateboarding for real, however the series took a bit of a nose dive I’d say after Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. The last instalment from five years ago, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 went down like a lead balloon and had ratings as low as three out of ten and I have to say those scores were warranted.
Brushing aside the past few titles, the old boys and girls were banded back together at developer Vicarious Visions to work on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 remastered. Whilst Vicarious Visions had no influence or involvement in the first original two titles, they worked on some of the later titles in the series. The studios obtained Neversoft’s original handling code and layered over the code to modernize the handling and mechanics whilst consulting and bringing old faces back to assist. The team also worked on the level geometry to ensure all the skating lines remained true to the original titles. It’s safe to say every detail has been reworked from the ground up and the art assets have all been redone to bring it to 4k visual glory whilst retaining the originality and familiarity to the gamers of the last two decades.
The question I see the most and a lot of friends have asked is important. Is the soundtrack the same as the original games? The answer is simply, yes, apart from three tracks because of licencing issues. The rest are present, including all the favourites from Superman from Goldfinger to Guerilla Radio from Rage Against the Machine. A lot of the tunes you hear on the Tony Hawk games were never forgotten for me. If you ever heard them anywhere else in the outside world, it instantly switched your thoughts to “This is the song from Tony Hawk”. I’ll be completely honest and say that I had goosebumps when Guerilla Radio kicked in on the opening trailer and real life footage of the original lineup of skaters from Tony himself, along with skaters such as Geoff Rowley and Steve Caballero opened my mind to an intense wave of nostalgia. I felt like a kid again, and I’d been waiting for this moment for five months to feel the wheels at my feet and score some huge combos.
Onto the gameplay, then I hope you’re ready for a feast of content here. The game will start you off with a short tutorial giving new players the chance to learn the ropes. For the veterans amongst us, you’ll instantly feel that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is back with a bang as it echoes everything from the original games in an aesthetically pleasing way. It does a very good job of delivering the game in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. Muscle memory kicks in as you ollie and grind your way through the original reworked levels. Now we have to remember that they have tried resuscitation on this game twice already, with Tony Hawk x2 on the original Xbox in 2001 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD in 2012. Something wasn’t quite right about these rehashed titles, though, they didn’t really do much rebuilding of the game and essentially there were minor details tarted up.
Vicarious Visions have clearly come into the studios as not only fans of the game, but with a huge amount of passion for the Tony Hawk series. After the success of the remasters of the Crash Bandicoot games, there was a lot riding on this and rightly so. They surely knew after the last release it was now make or break. All the original maps are here like for like, but visually excelled with improved backdrops, horizons and beautiful sunsets along with impressive sunrises. The developers have left all the challenges in the career mode, which has you work through each level. For instance, collect the letters S-K-A-T-E, find the hidden tape, score 100,000 points and more. Ticking these challenges off will unlock the levels as you progress, however, there are new challenges that Vicarious Visions have thrown in to make it more interesting. Any edits to the original levels are quite minor and more of a cosmetic change which has been majestically improved. For instance, the original Warehouse map has more vibrant graffiti on the ramps and isn’t capped off so you can see some outside area and the rays of sunshine casting through the windows. These subtle brushes of brilliance just had me in awe, how it just feels like the old but still brand spanking new. What’s interesting is that the manual controls have been shifted into this title, back in the original titles you couldn’t manual around the levels. This adds a whole new experience in what you are capable of with your skater now.
Moving onto the skaters, most of the original ones are here with some fresh faces of today thrown into the mix. What surprised me is how the skaters appear to be the age they are now and not the age they were when the first games were released 21 years ago. This must be a way of Tony Hawk proves that skating never dies, no matter what your age it always lives on. I think it’s brilliant that whilst they want to be true to the very first roster of skaters, but they also designed current skaters and mixed them in too. It gives the hardcore skateboarding fans of today a chance to use their current idols.
This isn’t where it ends though, create-a-skater is here and fairly in depth too. You’ll be able to create a male or female skater, edit facial and body features, eye colour, hair, you get the gist. What is fantastic is the sheer volume of options beyond this though. The amount of clothing you can unlock through playing is staggering. From Monster Energy baseball caps to Adidas branded trainers, there are hundreds of possibilities and combinations for your character to don what you choose. All of these clothing options can be purchased with in game currency, which is obtained through simply playing the game.
The options here to edit your board are rife with skins, grips and wheels, all from official manufacturers such as Element. I was genuinely blown away with how much is here to unlock, with the option of more being added in the future.
I felt like more could have been done in the editing of the face, head and body as there was a list of preset options with not much flexibility to adjust the size and shape of the delicate features such as eyebrows, nose, lips and so on. This is me being super critical as I have seen games such as Saints Row with some really intense character creation allowing you to tweak every minor detail. This doesn’t really impact the game too much, as realistically you’re unlikely to see your characters face much during the course of a run in the park.
And if that’s not enough creation for you, then there is the option to create your very own skate park. You’ll also be able to upload your creations and play other people’s parks. I was surprised at how intuitive this really is. The area you must develop your park is pretty vast and you will be able to pop in rails, ramps, boxes, steps and so on. You can alter the shape of most of the items that you can implement into your level and even how tall and wide they can be. One gripe for me was that you don’t start with all the items you can possibly use and you must unlock them during normal gameplay or purchase them within game currency. This isn’t the be all and end all, but it would be nice to just crack on and use everything on offer straight away from here.
Once you have worked through career mode and picked up all the challenges on every single park, collected all the stat points to build up your character and unlocked a bunch of gear what else is there left to do? Well, here is the introduction of online multiplayer to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2. Twenty-one years ago online multiplayer wasn’t around for video gaming, especially on consoles. It was a case of play alone or with real life friends, which is still here by the way! You can absolutely play split screen and pass the controller during local multiplayer.
Online multiplayer comprises a maximum of eight players with a casual and competitive playlist. Both playlists follow the same premise because once the lobby is full, it cycles through two minute matches of some of the favourites such as Score Attack and Graffiti. This adds a real competitive edge as you compete in real time against human players. Each round grants you experience to level up along with a small amount of cash. Casual players, however, may become overwhelmed with ultra skilled skaters stringing together huge combinations before you even pull off a semi decent trick. I can’t help but feel this is where some sort of tier system could be introduced, similar to games like Rocket League and Rainbow Six Siege to gain fairer matchmaking. Again, maybe a little critical, but guess I just need to try harder and practice more. You’ll be glad to know that there are Leaderboards and deep stat tracking to everything you do in multiplayer and all other modes throughout.
I could keep writing about every tick in the box this wonderful achievement of a remaster is, not just because it’s from two of my favourite games of all time. Without sounding biased it is honestly hand on heart everything I wished and hoped for from when they very first announced it back in May. Now it is here I have poured close to twenty hours of gameplay into the game and I’m only just warming up. The game is loyal to the original two in its controls and mechanics, but with that next generation feel to it. For fans of the Tony Hawk series, there is absolutely no doubt you should purchase this. Those who have never even touched a Tony Hawk game in their lifetime, please just go and witness the sheer brilliance and live what we all went through two decades ago. I am having an absolute blast and I’d go far enough to say it is my game of 2020 thus far, Vicarious Visions pat yourselves on the back! Even though there is an insane amount of longevity here, I hope that they don’t stop with just these two titles as we have the fantastic Tony Hawk Underground games to explore! The possibilities are endless now, with some focus on the online multiplayer and I’d suggest a battle pass system to bring more unlocks after the initial first wave of them. It will keep me and the rest of the smiling gamers coming back for more. It’s pained me to have to stop playing to write this review, so now I am going back for more. Why are you still reading? Go and buy it! Now!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and 2 Review
Gameplay - 10/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Replay Value - 10/10
User Review( votes)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 remasters are absolutely incredible, a magnificent salute to the originals with a vast amount of challenges and content added. It is an absolute must buy for fans of the series.
- The original soundtrack is 99% intact.
- Graphically stunning and runs at a solid 60fps in 4k resolution on the Xbox One X.
- A magnificent echo to the originals and the best remaster of any game I’ve experienced.
- Create A Skater could be more in depth.
- Online multiplayer could get stale quickly for some.
- The menus could be a little tidier.