The year is 1999 and I’m sat on the edge of my mate’s bed at 1am on a Sunday morning, frantically skating around the mall, trying to get a Pro Score.
I was pretty good and, more often than not, I’d get the higher score out of the two of us. It was a healthy competition, though, as we were ultimately just trying to complete challenges to keep unlocking the next area.
Most importantly, we were having a blast doing it, forgetting our troubles at school, taking a break from teenage life, just doing ollies and kickflips. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 holds these kinds of memories for so many people all over the world. It was a special game – as were some of the others that followed it – and it was all anyone wanted to talk about at the time. We all had our own strategies and high scores to brag about.
Fast forward to 2020 and here, finally, is the remake the world has been clamouring for. Rehauled assets, online multiplayer, bundled with the second game, and lots of cool, neat extras. It looks fantastic, it plays incredibly. And I have completely lost my touch.
It’s fine, though. Because this game means something different to me now. I haven’t just been sat on my sofa all weekend, reminiscing over familiar sights, using muscle memory to find all the secrets, but I’ve been appreciating just how good the core game really was. And how much love has gone into this remake.
Members of the site before have said how Final Fantasy has set the new standard for the quality of remakes. And while I adored my return trip to Midgar, I’m in awe of how closely this captures the essence of the original yet still feels like a whole new game.
The thing about Final Fantasy is that it feels like a cutting edge, end of a generation game that’s sparkling with stunning visuals, setting the tone with its mechanics, laying the groundwork for all that’s to come.
Tony Hawk doesn’t necessarily have that same, grandiose ambition – though I’d love to see more remakes in this style. It isn’t trying to redefine the way skating games are played or re-create the foundations of the genre. It’s going with what worked so well before, trying to cast your mind back to those Sunday mornings you fondly remember, and give a platform to new audiences to reminisce with their friends.
Though, what it definitely does do is represent an excellent, well-deserved return to form for one of the most iconic franchises in gaming history. Finally, after all these years, this is the Tony Hawk game you’ve been waiting for and needing to play.
From the moment I booted it up, heard that iconic soundtrack, and took my first lumps at the warehouse, I was a kid again. I had the biggest grin on my face and while I was mashing buttons, trying to pull off combos and mix moves together, I was still relaxed and having fun with a game. And in a year like 2020, which has been pretty disruptive and difficult, Tony Hawks Pro Skater is the fun pick-me-up we all needed.
Sure, there’s challenges you can unlock, items you can purchase with in-game currency, and a level progression system, but I don’t feel pressure to unlock, see, or do everything. I’ll do it all in time, when I’m still playing weeks down the line. I feel like the only challenge is the one I set myself. How many points do I want to aim for? What tricks shall I learn today? Shall I use this run to just go exploring?
Which is probably for the best because I am definitely not the same player I was over twenty years ago.
Activision and Vicarious Visions have built something lasting, faithful, and most importantly entertaining. And somehow still managed to bottle everything that made the 99 original so special. True, it’s not all perfect. Some of the levels haven’t aged as well as others and can definitely be a source of frustration due to their size and complexity. I would argue the level design of THPS 2 is better than the original, in particular. The short time limit often doesn’t help with that, either, and the game’s camera / character movement definitely feels dated.
But it all contributes to the authenticity and faithfulness of the remake. Sure, Vicarious Visions could have changed it all, but there is a very healthy respect being shown between what was released and what can still work in 2020. That’s the beauty of this remake as it still manages to iterate and do new things with the existing content, while still remaining true to Neversoft’s original classic.
There’s nods and references to other Tony Hawk games filtered throughout, logical track changes to suit audiences old and new, and most importantly, an incredibly impressive redevelopment of the environments – each full of hidden Easter Eggs – though you’ll still know exactly where to go and what to do.
This is the rebirth for Tony Hawk Pro Skater we’ve long waited for. Just as the N-Sane Trilogy was for Crash Bandicoot and Reignited was for Spyro, this is a lovingly built, high-quality remake that will hopefully lead to newer instalments in the years to come.
Welcome back, Mr Hawk, You, most definitely, have still got it.
- The Tony Hawk Pro Skater Rebirth we’ve been waiting for.
- Authentic, faithful, but still able to iterate with new additions and extras.
- Tons of content packed in along with online and local multiplayer
- Some level design hasn’t aged as well as others
- Camera and player movement can be a bit problematic at times.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is now available on PC, PS4, and XO
Tested on PS4 and XO
Code kindly supplied by Activision