Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2: Sick Score

Written By Dan Russo

4.5 Globes/5

As our generation grows older, nostalgia is beginning to play a bigger and bigger part in our entertainment landscape. Call it smart business or call it lazy, it’s still making an impact, and every week there seems to be a new and exciting announcement for things we’ve experienced before into a shiny new package. Disney has been remaking their classic movies for years now, and we as a populous have been eating it up. There was a time this year where almost the entire campus was excited to see Drake Bell perform a single song. Things like these remind us of times where things were simpler, easier, there was less to worry about. Days where the only issues were times tables and running out of Capri-Sun. I think it’s safe to say a lot of us want to go back.

“Superman” by Goldfinger on the title screen of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 hit me like a cement truck. This silly ska song turned something mundane like hitting the start button into a cathartic and nostalgic experience. I was back.

In many ways, Pro Skater 1+2 is a masterclass in how to remake a game properly. The game takes the best parts of the old games and adds in stuff from the later games that made the later games better. A mesmerized roommate was watching me play and pointed out that it took me zero time to get acclimated to the new games controls, as if my muscle memory had never left. As someone who sunk an embarrassing number of hours into the originals, I had no issue with this.

Pro Skater 1+2 was developed by Vicarious Visions, who used to work on the surprisingly good Game Boy versions of the classic games. They were also responsible for the amazing reimagining of the first three Crash Bandicoot games for a compilation called the Crash Bandicoot N-Sane trilogy. Those who have played that game can attest that it feels just like the original, if not better. The same can be said for Pro Skater 1+2. Nailing the feel of the gameplay was accomplished by literally going back and copy and pasting the game engine, while adding a fresh coat of paint. This is not the first time there has been an attempt to remake these games, but the others pale in comparison after playing this one for five minutes.

Pro Skater 1+2’s nineteen levels have been updated in stunning detail. Reflective puddles and colorful graffiti cover the walls and cracked cement floors. Sure, there are conspicuous ramps and rails everywhere just begging to be styled on using your trusty skateboard, but the levels are so detailed that your brain kind of ignores it, it’s really quite amazing. The levels feel like somewhere you could visit in real life. The Mall level was once a bustling monument to capitalism in the original, but it has since been abandoned in 2020’s portrayal. Even the licensed Vans and Adidas stores have been boarded up.

The game’s memorable soundtracks are back, with almost all of the original songs being included. The aforementioned “Tony Hawk Theme Song,” “Superman” by Goldfinger appears, with some other well-known classics like “Guerrilla Radio” by the ever relevant Rage Against the Machine lining the soundtrack. The soundtrack has been expanded, and every song selected is fantastic. A few of the new artists include Screaming Females, A Tribe Called Quest, and Destroy Boys. These games have influenced my taste in music ever since I was a kid, so it’s amazing to see this trend continue.

Pro Skater 1+2 is a more refined product in a social way too. The game has adapted to correctly portray skater culture, while also being more inclusive. Steve Caballero is a real life skater with scoliosis, and the game properly reflects that in his character model for the first time. Offensive trick names present in the originals have been renamed or removed and there is more representation across the board to show how the sport has changed and matured over time. Player created characters can even rather humorously wear face masks, and there are a ton of references to current events in the levels of the game. 

Pro Skater 1+2 features a pretty in depth tutorial to help newcomers learn how the game works. The game features a brand new challenge system that adds a ton of replay value, complete with customization rewards for your skateboarder. The game also features online multiplayer and classic couch multiplayer. Playing online can be very humbling, I have completed some of the most difficult challenges the game has to offer, and I get absolutely torn apart online.

The game, while being a perfect gameplay recreation of the original, is not perfect. The Create A Skater and Create A Park features could definitely use some more love. Older games boasted some of the most impressive character creators of their generation, but this feature is restrictive in the newest edition. An upsetting limit of only four created skaters can exist on any console at one time. Create a Park features level sharing and quick load times, but there aren’t a whole lot of different pieces to mess around with. The game also disappointingly lacks cross platform level sharing, disappointing, but not surprising. These are things that can easily be remedied in updates to the game.

During a long, difficult year with not very much to look forward to, this game provides some much needed relief. Vicarious Visions did these nearly twenty-year-old video games justice, and then some. Skateboarding games have been attempted over and over the past few years, but few have reached the level of perfection that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2.