Title: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Reviewed On: PS4
Finding your place as a kid can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to begin. Luckily for me, I had a demo disc with Tony Hawk Pro Skater on it that convinced me to get on a skateboard and find like-minded individuals. It wasn’t long after until Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 came out that I knew video games and skateboarding would be a big part of my life for years to come.
Even though the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series outgrew me with new systems and over-the-top gameplay elements, I respected it for trying to keep kids interested in the sport the best it could. During that time, I’ve attempted to play the HD remasters as well as the one-off re-releases of classic levels, but nothing could match the original. With the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, I went in hoping for a return to form, but also to see if this would be a way for kids like me to find their own community, which it does all that and more.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 doesn’t waste much time getting you on a board, but there is a tutorial there for those who need a refresher. Jumping into the tour mode gives you access to both Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, with an added mode for speed runs and score attacks. Each game plays out like old fans would be used to; you jump into the first stage, clear some goals, and unlock the next level. During that time, you can collect stat points, earn money, and compete in several tournaments.
The playability of these levels has been balanced in a way that doesn’t lean too far into being overly tricky or too easy. The reason this could be an issue is that when these games were first released, they didn’t reverts or fancy additional combos to grinds and manuals. Still, I found that the point distribution to tricks made everything feel accessible no matter the skill level, with added bits of challenges spread across each stage.
The more interesting moments of gameplay, for me as a fan, is seeing how well they stayed true to the original designs of these stages, while also adding a bit of life to them. The mall, for example, looks completely deserted and run-down with various broken objects and textures. It makes you want to explore these areas more. However, the only issue I found is that some doors make it look like you can go inside them. This could just be a compliment to the developers, but I would continuously run into entries of the school because it looked like a secret area.
The challenges are all the same from what I remember, with the only difference being the lack of money scattered around the stages. This actually made the levels feel smaller because, without the cash, there weren’t many reasons to access certain areas. The way you do earn cash is through completing objectives and various goals, but it doesn’t serve as a way to explore each level thoroughly.
Where I feel Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 does better in than any experience I had as a kid are its competitive online modes. Once in, you are grouped up with other players and play rounds of graffiti, trick attack, and longest combo. At this time, you’re always going to get some try-hards who go to places on the map where they can just cheese their way through the competition, but there’s nothing really at stake here.
You see, you’re just hanging out and skating for the most part, and the friendly competition is just there as a way to give you ideas on how to improve your skills. I just really enjoyed the low impact of the online offerings; even in ranked play, I felt very little stress in trying to take down the others. I was playing a competitive video game, sure, but I wasn’t on the verge of breaking my controller as I would be in Call of Duty; I was, dare I say, having fun in an online game.
I didn’t really care for the customization features within the game where you can purchase new clothes at the shop and create a skater or use one of the pro skaters available. Some of my favorite boards as a teen were not available, and I just couldn’t seem to find the appeal of buying these clothes when all I really wanted to do was skate. However, it’s there for people who want it, and it’ll probably feature some limited-time sales from time to time.
There’s also a create-a-park mode, which is pretty incredible. Still, one thing I found strange was that some objects for the mode could be purchased, which has me wondering if specific items will be monetized in the future. Regardless, there’s so much offered here that you can jump in a create your dream parks to hang out with some friends for a bit and skate around. Local play is also supported, which just completes the overall experience.
The added pro skaters and music flowed nicely with this brand new experience. It was fun merely spending time looking for secrets with my friends and unlocking everything we could. There’s just so much to do here that I couldn’t as a kid, which checks all the boxes for any type of player.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 offers more than just a nostalgic experience. It’s a return to the skateboarding movement that shaped my early teens and will surely give gamers growing up a chance to capture that same feeling I did. The experience expertly balances the arcadey systems of the series without pushing it too far to the mundane or cringy. Instead, what you are left with is a genuine Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater experience and one that I immensely enjoyed.
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