Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 review – gold medal

Am I biased? Very much so. The tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series is arguably one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. Be that as it may, it actually makes me a great candidate to review a remake, as I am familiar with almost every nook and cranny of the original. My hours with the game lead me to conclude this is one of the best remakes ever made.

I find it interesting to question the actual purpose of a remake. The most relevant reason to remake a game for most developers seemed to be the jump to either HD or 4k, which can potentially lead to some pretty underwhelming albeit upscaled experiences. The experience of playing the original game is usually covered in a thick fog of nostalgia, and is sometimes better left in the past (Turtles in Time remake, i’m looking at you). Luckily we recently had an influx of great remakes, like Demon Souls, Trials of Mana and Final Fantasy 7, which either restyled or reinvented the game so drastically, it legitimately warranted a second playthrough. THPS 1+2 (Which i will refer to as “THPS” from here on out) doesn’t reïnvent the gameplay which made the original so much fun, but instead restyles and reimagines the original games in such a colourful and playful way it made me party like it was 1999 again.

Falling in love

My initial love for THPS started in high school somewhere around 2000. I remember being at my friend’s place and his older brother was playing THPS2 on PC. Like a moth to a lightbulb I was instantly drawn to the game. Growing up on the Dutch countryside my experiences with skateboarding were pretty limited until then. I tried getting on a board once a few years earlier, but after falling off almost instantly i deemed this hostile four-wheeled contraption as not worth getting hurt for and discarded the thought of being the new local Bart Simpson into the trash bin. And then came THPS2. For the first time I was exposed to skateboarding culture as opposed to just the board itself. THPS2 exposed me to a lot of things that were fresh to me: a soundtrack full of rebellious music, charismatic characters with clothing i’d never seen before, and video’s with footage of skateboarding. It was a total culture shock at the time. Within a year i transformed from vanilla teenage boy into a full blown skateboard goon. All because of a video game. All because of THIS video game.

Falling in love – Again

Twenty + years after the cultural teenage earthquake that THPS2 represented to me the franchise slowly faded into obscurity. My skateboard dreams once again ended up in the garbage bin but I cherish my memories of both skating and playing THPS to this day. Naturally, when the remake was announced, I was sceptical, as “THPS5” wasn’t what I hoped for, and the series had been on a decline ever since “Project 8”. It just wasn’t the same. The game had gradually changed for the worse. I didn’t need it anymore. It wasn’t the game that i believed in yesterday. (pun intended, link included.)

When the initial reviews of THPS came rolling in i still kept my enthousiasm curbed, but after playing just one session on Venice Beach, i instantly rediscovered the joy in playing THPS. The gameplay is just so damn good. It works, it’s responsive, and the online leaderbords make my competitive side heat up like back in the day: i just wanna get better at this game, non stop. It felt like meeting an old friend.

Fun. Fun. Fun.

THPS remake doesn’t stray far from the vibe of the original game in terms of music, but everything else has been overhauled and refreshed. The developers have dipped the game in a really fresh aesthetical sauce. Beautiful illustration work graces the loading screens and the playful and colourful level (re)design reimagines the original scenery in a creative way. A special shout out to the sound design department, as they did an excellent job of greatly improving the audio. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when our visual ape minds think about remakes, but THPS’s sound effects are noticably so much better than the original games. I could rant for days about how much fun this game is, but as usual, it isn’t 100% perfect, and i’ve got some minor gripes I wanna elaborate on before i hand over the medals.

this is how you do a remake

A few bails – WE WANT MORE

It’s not all peaches and cream as there are some minor issues that did bother me a bit. For starters, i played this game on PS4 and i’m just not a big fan of the Dualshock controller for THPS. My weapon of choice used to be the Gamecube controller, as the thumbstick resides on a more logical position (especially to do manuals), as do the buttons. I catch myself favoring the d-pad over the Dualshock’s analog stick, but this demands some rapid fingerwork. I might just buy the PC version and hookup my old Gamecube controller just for fun, to see if i can actually improve my scores. Another minor annoyance is the fact that restarting a single session takes around 2-3 seconds, whereas it used to be instantaneously. It’s nitpicking to the extreme, but I’m just sensitive to this kind of crap. Especially when you wanna do a good combo right from the get-go, these delays add up. And last but definately not least, this game would’ve been PERFECT if they had also included THPS 3 and 4. After recently discovering that THPS developer Vicarious Visions was “swallowed” by Blizzard, the chances we’re gonna see a sequel are becoming slimmer. These quirks aside, this game is impossible not to recommend.

THPS is the gold standard of modern day remakes. It leaves the gameplay untouched, while improving upon nearly every aspect of the original. It's got the fun factor. This is the type of game you don't wanna write about, you wanna play it. So, if you'll excuse me, i got a high score to beat.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Nails
Sounddesign is top notch
Online components
Level (re)design is a blast
The gameplay is STILL good
Bails
Blizzard
WE WANT MORE
91
From a 900 to a 1080
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