There are a lot of games that really stick with you growing up. The kinds of games that you always circle back to, and while you've probably played a lot of games some just stand out for you and hold that special place in your memories. These games you'd play for hours either alone or with friends. Could be chasing down friends in GoldenEye, arguing about throwing Red Shells in Mario Kart, or pulling off impossible tricks in Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Revisiting those games can either rekindle these emotions, or show just how far video games have come as generations go by. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 developed by Vicarious Visions attempt to capture that feeling while also bringing the first two games in the franchise into the modern era, does it capture that lightning in a bottle once again though?
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2, as the name suggests, is a remake of the first two games from the Pro Skater series. All of the same maps, goals, and gaps are included but everything has been given a shiny new coat of paint. For single-player content, you can select Pro Skater and start your journey at the Warehouse, Pro Skater 2 to start in the Hanger, or Free Skate which gives you access to every level in the game. The main purpose of the campaign is to drop into a level for a 2-minute session and try to use that time to complete goals. The more goals that you complete the more levels you unlock granting you access to new and more difficult challenges.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 does what every remaster hopes to do and that's to play as well as you remember the game playing. While breaking out your PlayStation you might think you're going to get a similar experience with this re-release you can put the past to rest. The simple controls are easy to pick up and as you try to chain more and more into a combo you'll find the difficulty begins to scale quickly. The skater is extremely responsive allowing you to focus on nailing that trick, and ever time you bail you know why it went wrong. The more precise controls also mean that some of the more difficult places to reach, like the top of Downhill Jam, become that much more accessible. There will certainly be a few moments where the geometry of the level and the player's board doesn't quite match though. Over the course of playing both full campaigns, it was probably only a handful of times, but when attempting a trick or wallride my skater would be pushed through a solid wall falling into an abyss. Certainly, a frustrating feeling, especially when in the middle of a combo. Thankfully, it happens so little it doesn't get in the way too much.
The makeover that each level has gotten adds not only a new shine to the game but also more character to the levels. Graffiti everywhere around the warehouse or how rundown the mall looks becoming a skaters playground. The juxtaposition between these skating areas vs the more urban locations like Philidelphia where you're just skating around a city block makes it seem like that much more of a real-world instead of just somewhere to skate in. This level of realism also translates to each of the Pro Skaters included as playable characters, each aged up to be their current real-world selves. It's a perfect level of realism in the world and characters, and the arcade feel of racking up a high score that just speaks to the effort put into this remake.
The goals do such a great job of forcing the player to experience every aspect of the levels. You can begin a level and go straight for the High Score/Combo goals and just play around on a level chaining together as large a combo as possible, but other goals will have you exploring the world. You could be knocking over barrels, collecting bus cards, or finding a Secret Tape in a locked area of the level. Finding all of these goals can be a lot of fun, though when you're trying to track down objectives the 2-minute timer can be a bit annoying. Veteran players might find going back to these 20+-year-old levels that the knowledge of how to complete these goals will come right back. The scaling is Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 does a good job ramping up consistently, score challenges might only ramp up by an extra 25K or so with each new level but you're going to have to pull off better combos to reach them. If you are having issues completing some goals mods like perfect grinding and perfect manual balance have been added to the game in place of what used to be cheats for the franchise.
When you've completed the campaigns and feel pretty confidant in your ability to shred you can then take all of that experience and head into the multiplayer mode. These lobbies are filled with up to eight skaters at a time and will cycle through a random assortment of the classic multiplayer game modes. Trick Attack where players try to earn the highest score possible in 2 minutes, Graffiti where you tag a park item by scoring points on it, and Combo Mambo where you only need to score the highest combo. There is nothing more humbling than believing you're a pretty good Tony Hawk player and then heading into online mode. Where most players will be achieving a few hundred thousand points for a Trick Attack game type, there always seems to be a player in the lobby scoring a few million points. All the more power to those who are able to pull off those ridiculous point scores, but makes the rest of the multiplayer experience feel a bit less enjoyable when you're only realistically vying for 3rd place. Local multiplayer is still in the game and works really well. For all of the above game modes, you can play locally with your friend as well as some head to head game modes like Horse.
For online multiplayer, some more robust sorting/selection features are really needed though. Dropping into a lobby and not thinking about any options is fine, but if you don't like the map or aren't up for another round of score attack you're stuck. Simple additions like map or game mode voting, as well as ranked play, would help balance out the current state of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 not only for new players who would see a seven-digit score as paralyzing but also for those high scoring players to get a chance to face some real competition. There are also no options for a free skate in online multiplayer, you always have to be competing for something instead of just having fun in a world with other Skaters.
When you're done with the parks included in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 then you can head to the Create-A-Park system. Here you can create your own custom skatepark using different pieces of boxes, ramps, rails, and more that you see throughout the game. While the majority of players will experience the creator enough to get a hang of the controls and build a small park this is going to give creators a lot of power to make their dream courses. Much like titles like Dreams or LittleBigPlanet with the ability to share these custom parks it really expands how long you can spend playing Pro Skater 1+2. This again is a good upgrade of the past Create-A-Park systems, but it still feels like something is missing in the ability to create goals or gaps. There's a lot of fun to be had skating around a canvas ready to be painted on, but with fan-made objectives, it would push the system that bit further. Regardless, what's already on there, whether made by Vicarious or by fans, are already looking promising.
The biggest new addition that is ever-present in both single, multiplayer, and Create-A-Park modes is the new Career Level and Challenge progression system. Like in-game achievements fulfilling requirements will grant you experience to level your Career, money to spend on the skate shop, and even special decks and other cosmetics. It's quite similar to the kinds of Battle Pass systems that are becoming more and more present in online games but is a big part of the whole Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 experience. Starting the game you'll find yourself unlocking them frequently, but it then gets to the point where the game is asking you to complete a 15+ trick combo, that includes at least one special, but no grinding allowed. These strict rules push players to get out of their comfort zone and plan a new combo for themselves. You'll think about what you'd need to include and what that requires, and then what levels you might be able to make it happen. These Challenges can also be completed in the free skate so you at least don't have to worry about that pesky timer running out.
While most of the challenges have fairly robust tracking, whether it's what your highest score is on a certain level, or what levels you've completed a gap on, there are others that will give you a simple number like collecting Alien Plushies and you're at 16/19. These can be somewhat frustrating as you then need to comb through the potential places you've seen or haven't seen those Alien Plushies to try to complete them. Overall it's a system that does progression and cosmetics correctly. It allows you to show off your skills by riding them and knowing that you earned that deck pattern for completing something others might not have.
Finally I would be remiss to not bring up how great as always the soundtrack is for a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game. Not only are the classics like Superman by Goldfinger, Blood Brothers by Papa Roach, and Police Truck by the Dead Kennedys but there's also plenty of new tracks. The mix of ska, rap, and rock also pull players back into the early 90s when the original games released. Once again players of the original are going to start tapping their toes as they skate around listening to the same tracks that they would have been 20 years ago. Each embodying the culture of skating and nothing feels out of place. The worst part about the soundtrack is the way that it cuts out slightly when your skater bails on a trick, something that could probably be done without but also not worth getting upset over.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 is an incredible remake of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and Pro Skater 2. Including all of the original content and adding new and updated features like the Create-A-Park online features and multiplayer. The few setbacks that the game does have are some slight gameplay hiccups, and plenty to be desired on the multiplayer front. Vicarious Vision has done a great job preserving such a classic from the history of video games but could have been a bit more ambitious adding in more modern features. Their use of the Career system for a cosmetic based leveling and challenge system should be taken note of by any company working on similar models. It's enough to keep you playing, but not overbearing enough that a missed goal will mean that much. I'm sure many fans of the original games have already added this to their collection and anyone on the fence should know Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 is worth it.
TechRaptor reviewed Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 on Xbox One using a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PC and PlayStation 4
- Excellent Recreation of THPS
- Multiplayer Features...
- Plays Like Your Best Memory
- Perfect Soundtrack
- Challenge System Expands Gametime
- Very infrequent physics issues
- ...Could Have Been More Ambitious