They say that nostalgia is looking through rose colored glasses. Things that used to entertain you when you were younger can hit differently as you get older. Doom for instance, used to scare the shit out of me, but now I only see the monsters as cartoon-ish. A movie that looked cinema quality on DVD, now just seems so blurry compared to 4k videos (even on YouTube). It’s very hard to reintroduce something that was released a decade or so ago and still capture you but somehow, those talented developers at Vicarious Studios did it, with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2.
The Tony Hawk Pro Skater (THPS) series was originally developed by Neversoft during a surge of interest in the skateboarding sport and culture of the late 90s. While previous skateboarding games in that era followed a game structure where the player performs tricks on linear tracks; THPS improved on this by actually giving players small open areas to play around with. Players were now given the freedom to complete several objectives in each open area within a two minute time limit. It was a wonderful balance of giving an ‘arcade game’ feel while also enabling more density in terms of things that you can collect and do in any given level.
Of course, this wouldn’t have elevated the game series to a legendary status without fantastic gameplay. THPS was just plain fun, and many hours were spent on refining the combinations of tricks by either performing it on air, or through chaining the grinds on the plenty of rails in any given level. THPS was simple to play, but hard to master. However, soon player’s found themselves reaching high scores up to the hundreds of thousands of points and breaking records. Other than this, there are also the aforementioned objectives where you can collect letters of the word “SKATE”, destroying specific objects, or finding secret tapes.
The collection also includes the levels and skaters of the even more widely acclaimed sequel; Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. The sequel introduced the concept of manuals, where you can use it to further chain tricks into some crazy long combos that can give you millions of points in one go. Furthermore, the collection also allows you to use Revert, a Tony Hawk Pro Skater mechanic, where it gave you another option to link grind AND air combos. Bluntly, the amount of level objectives, skaters to upgrade, unlocks from two games, and even a Create-A-Skater feature: makes this a collection that can entertain anyone for hundreds of hours, just like old times!
Talking about THPS isn’t complete without mentioning the legendary soundtrack. The THPS collection manages to get most of the songs from both games (with only 5 songs omitted due to licensing issues) with a few new ones for a total of 26 songs combined. A special kudos to Vicarious Studios too for adding a playlist function where you can remove songs from the playlist and most importantly, letting the songs play continuously. Rather than having the songs cycle through the list when you restart or go to the main menu, it keeps playing those songs even during the loading screens, as well giving you the option to skip to another song on the list by pressing the R3 button.
The game also looks stellar, with a lot of love given to making the skaters look as they do in real life as well as on all of the levels in the game. Everything has been remade that this can stand tall with other AAA games that are out in this generation. Surprisingly, HDR is also given a lot of love with HDR customisation options that puts a few others to shame.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 & 2 were undoubtedly one of the best games in the arcade sports series in the 32-bit generation, and the timeless gameplay, songs, and levels in this game did not show its age one bit. This is one of the games that you must play, whether for nostalgia reasons or just to have a good time. The king of skating games is back, and it is better than ever.
A Review code was provided by Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions / Publisher: Activision
Release date: 04/09/2020
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows 10 PC
Version Reviewed: PS4
“THPS 1 & 2 is one of the games that you must play, whether for nostalgia reasons or just to have a good time. The king of skating games is back, and it is better than ever”