A Nostalgic Title
For those of you who read my early impressions of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, you’ll know that this is a remake of the two earlier titles of the same name. Titles which I grew up playing back on the original PlayStation. It’s fair to say that this skating game is likely to bring out the nostalgia in a good amount of players. Not to say that this title won’t be a hit with newer players.
Upfront I’ll say that the gameplay to me feels like the modern Tony Hawk games. They haven’t gone faithful remake to the point of missing out all the later additions like spine transfers which didn’t make it until the PlayStation 2 era.
Get Those Points
An explanation for those less familiar with the series, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is an arcade-style skateboarding game. It pulls in remade levels from both original games and lets you skate around in several modes.
In the main mode and all modes really, getting a huge amount of points is an important goal. When it comes to getting a high score, it’s all about the combos. You can pull off some amazing tricks in the game, but learning to chain them all together is key. Get huge airtime and land a really great trick? That’s good, but it often isn’t enough. For the big scores you have to combo. If you land a trick off a ramp, chain into a revert, do a manual and then grind on a rail, you will be on your way to completing the goals. Combos give multipliers and unique tricks in a combo are worth more.
Chaining tricks together adds a layer of risk versus reward. I could end my trick at a combo of five tricks or I could keep going until ten tricks for more points. I’ve overextended myself far too many times though and lost it all. I really liked the concept of having the value of repeated tricks decrease in a combo too. It’s a nice way to encourage the player to learn the different techniques and not just chain together the most basic ones. Some tricks are more risky too, so it was good reason to throw those in.
The tricks themselves are mostly based around getting high enough in the air, pulling off the trick and then landing correctly. If not, they were balancing correctly by keeping a needle near the middle of a gauge in the case of grinding, manuals and lip tricks. There’s a huge amount of tricks and skaters have ones unique to them too.
Goals and Gold
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 features levels where you have a limited amount of time to complete goals. This might be collecting five letters, performing certain tricks in certain places, getting a high score or so on. It sounds simple, but it’s often not.
As an example, there was a level where I had to complete three particular gap tricks – that is going over a certain gap. Two of the tricks themselves were difficult enough to pull off and had unstated requirements, but I also had to explore and experiment a lot to even find them. It mentioned ‘rooftop’ and showed me a view of one of the two rooftops, but it was only really obvious where one of the gaps were.
Finding some sort of collectible is a goal which often appears. Sometimes these are fairly straightforward. Sometimes you have to first figure out how to get to the item and then pull off some pretty impressive tricks to get to it. Other times it’s straightforward and easy.
One exception to the types of goals mentioned so far is a contest type of level. This kind of level is all about scoring the points and not failing tricks while you’re trying to do it. In contest levels you are ranked against other A.I. skaters. I found it a bit frustrating as it seemed that the A.I. always did better when I had a higher score, so the goalposts moved. My score this run would have been enough for first place last time, but only second this time – like that. These types of levels are the exception though.
Outside of the main mode, you can also play in free skate to practice, compete in multiplayer or play a speed run mode where you need to complete all goals within a level as fast as possible for a place on the leaderboard. Speed run only unlocks after clearing all goals for that level. I note that as you don’t actually need to complete all goals on a level to proceed – only a certain number of goals total.
Challenge Everything. Customize Everything.
In this game, you can choose to play as Tony Hawk, more than 20 other skaters or to make your own custom skater. Right off the bat, I’ll note that customization is simultaneously a huge aspect aspect of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 and also one that you don’t have to worry about outside of a couple of aspects.
The most important part from a gameplay perspective is that some of those collectibles I mentioned earlier – they’re not goals, but stats. You can find and collect these throughout the levels and then use them to upgrade your skater’s abilities. It’s worth pointing out here – it only upgrades the abilities for that one skater. If you switch character, you’ll need to make all that progress again. You can upgrade to jump higher, skate faster, and keep your balance more easily. It breaks down more than that, but that’s the simple version. Unlike many other games, you can reallocate those extra stats whenever you want.
The stats added an extra challenge and an extra element to play with. Finding the stats was always something that encouraged me to explore the level. Moving stats around was something I experimented with too nearer the start of the game. There were sometimes challenges I could only do if I increased my speed enough, could get a certain height in the air or managed to balance a grind for long enough.
Outside of stats, you can assign extra special tricks to a skater and there are also a ton of cosmetics to unlock. You can unlock new characters too, some of which do not have obvious requirements so a guide is recommended when you get to late-game.
The reason why I say you can ignore a lot of the customization is that you are absolutely fine to just get stats, maybe assign a few extra tricks and play as a standard looking character. That said, there are more than 700 challenges to complete. These might be pulling off specific tricks, landing tricks off certain gaps, completing speeds runs under a time and so on. These all extend gameplay quite a bit, giving you goals to aim for, but they are often to unlock customizations as far as reward goes. I had fun trying to get specific ones just for the challenge.
Create-a-Park lets you do exactly that. It doesn’t have much of a tutorial, but it’s pretty straightforward. Some pieces snap together like pieces of half pipes and ramps and some don’t. You can place objects anywhere, including in mid-air, intersecting with each, etc. I once had about 50 tables all floating in the air and many of them were occupying the same space as another.
You can browse user created parks and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 doesn’t even need a PS Plus subscription to access it. As is the nature of user created content, some of it is fantastic, while some is more along the lines of my hideous floating tables stage. Luckily there is a feature to see highly rated tables and featured ones to help direct the player. Some levels which might be considered as unfair made it through though, such as ones designed to ‘cheat’ challenges. A line of more than a hundred ramps makes an easy high combo.
Controls honestly feel great – if you’re not always using the analog stick. This feels like a holdover from the original games in a way, since they never had analog sticks available. Generally it plays fine with them, but I’ve had problems successfully pulling off certain tricks without the D-Pad. Manuals are the only one where it’s consistently an issue.
You can play completely without the analog stick, without the D-Pad or with a mixture of both. I certainly recommend the D-Pad method though.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 are certainly an upgrade from the original and nice enough. I did experience some pop in occasionally for distant objects, but this didn’t happen often.
The soundtrack is amazing as it always was. They couldn’t bring back the entire original soundtrack as there were issues with five of the songs, but the vast majority is there. If you’re not familiar with it, you can listen to most of it on Spotify here.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 feels like a faithful remake, but still improves in all areas. The only real gripe I have with it is that the controls don’t feel perfect with the analog stick, but that’s minor considering there’s another option. There are a good amount of levels and tons of things to do in them. I really enjoyed it and that’s not just the nostalgia talking.
TONY HAWK’S PRO SKATER 1 + 2 IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Activision for providing a PlayStation 4 review code for the game.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.