In 2015, Activision released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. It nearly destroyed the series due to it being rushed out the door in a woefully incomplete state to meet a deadline. In order to keep the license from expiring, the powers that be mandated the game be released before the end of 2015.
It did not matter if it worked or not. What was something that Tony Hawk himself had prided himself on, became an unmitigated embarrassment for him. He had always been deeply involved with every game to ensure a mark of quality, but this was a time it was beyond his control.
With Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, Activision has gone back to their well of successes in hopes to win back the crowd. Like Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Crash N. Sane Trilogy, this would be a remade combination of the two best skating games of all time. These were beloved in the early 2000s, and with Unreal 4’s technology, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is one of the best games of 2020.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Release Date: September 18, 2020
When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 begins, you know you’re in good hands. The introductory HD footage of skaters nailing tricks and even taking a few bails set to rousing punk music eases you into the mood. Skaters familiar and new are introduced, including the son of Tony Hawk; Riley Hawk.
As the title screen fades in, the most iconic ska song ever produced drums in gradually; Superman, by Goldfinger. Anyone who grew up with this series will be overwhelmed by a huge wave of emotional nostalgia, palm clasping over mouth and weeping tears of joy.
It is like coming home and being greeted by a long lost family member as they take you in from a biting cold night. A warm and comfy blanket that envelopes your soul and the relief washes over you and peace felt is palpable that your heart flutters.
This is the ultimate Tony Hawk experience. Almost everyone is here, and the expansive modes and advancements have been implemented for gameplay refinements. Vicarious Visions utterly nailed the play control and physics of the gameplay.
Stepping back into the birdman’s shoes never felt so natural. Veterans will instinctively be pulling off their old tricks like a newborn sea turtle taking its first crawl towards the ocean. Snapping into a grind, following up with a spinning ollie and landing into a manual, only to wall-ride into a wall-jump is both satisfying to pull off as it is to watch.
Newcomers will easily fall into the groove of the game’s simplistic yet addictive loop, two minute runs of completing as many objectives as possible. While this series may have been marketed as a “sports” title, the structure and game design sits comfortably in collect-a-thon territory.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 shares a lot in common with Banjo-Kazooie. Levels are unlocked gradually based on how many objectives per stage are completed, and the player-character gradually gains more options to succeed. Stages are usually open ended, and the player free to accomplish various goals at their own pace.
Some objectives require collecting various themed objects within a stage, while other goals demand mastery of pulling off complex level-specific tricks or jumps. Every stage will have generalized goals that require various par high scores, which are completed by performing elaborate combos.
The difficulty of these will vary depending on your skater, since every skater has their own unique stats and playstyle. Compounded with every skater having their own unique unlockable costumes and skate footage, the game incentivizes replay with everyone. This is a great way to get a feel for the variety of styles and mixtures of how each skater handles.
The custom skater that users create gets their own unlockable features, on top of the 20 plus options available. While it is not possible to make an outrageous or absurd skater that might resemble Shrek or a diminutive mariachi, the options and clothing combinations are almost endless.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 constantly drip feeds the player profile cash to buy more customizable features like apparel or skateboard options. The range of expression is always growing as you play, even when failing a run with no objectives fulfilled; you still earn a little cash.
Other than the goals from levels, there are challenges that span across either Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 or 2. The challenges are broken up into three categories: rookie, veteran and legend. Each come with their own rewards, and are more like long term goals to accomplish than something that can be done while doing a stage run.
The challenges are only a few of the new features added to these classics. Stages from the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater have had a few extra goals added to ensure parity with the levels in the sequel. Advanced techniques from later games have been added, like half-pipe transfers and reverts.
The biggest addition to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is the absurdly robust create-a-park mode. Even if you never try to come to grips with the endless options that are available to create some outlandish courses, the premade samples are plentiful and meticulously assembled.
Downloading user-created parks is a snap, and becomes nigh endless enjoyment when experimenting with the insane death-traps that sadistic players conjure up. Compounded with the split-screen local multiplayer, the fun never ends.
Competing against the punk sitting next to you was always a heated and exhilarating battle of wits. Today, basically every game has you playing against anonymous randies. It is never the same as feeling the burning scorn of your best friend outclassing your combo right in front of you.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 brings it all back. H-O-R-S-E is back, and is still one of the most gripping multiplayer modes around. Two skaters must one up each other’s combo score, creating a battle of wits and dexterity. It is the one mode that is exclusive to local multiplayer only, and the five-letter word can be customized to hilarious results.
Regardless of which mode you focus on, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 has a lot of meat on it. There are 19 stages that are packed with gimmicks, hazards, and details that have been lovingly recreated from the fifth console generation. Almost everything is here, even Officer Dick, who is portrayed by Jack Black for some reason.
The only features that sadly did not make the cut is Bam Margera, formerly of Team Element. Bam was a mainstay personality for seven Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, and his brand of humor made him stand out from other skaters. His recent tragic fall from grace is likely why he was not included in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2.
Other omissions like Spider-Man and Private Carrera are understandable, but the voids left are not filled. The custom skater is also limited with costume options; with only endless regular street clothes being available.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 has the most minor shortcomings for an incredibly generous and enjoyable package. The core game is an incredible rush, and the density of modes and unlockables constantly beckons for replaying. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is highly recommended and is a perfect example of doing a definitive remake that replaces the original.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was reviewed on Xbox One X using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.