As a kid there was one thing I really enjoyed — Rolling down the roll-in on the Hangar stage of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 while blasting out Blood Brothers by Papa Roach.
I loved the Tony Hawks games so much that I invested a lot my time into honing my in-game balancing skills and managed to at one point make it into one of the UK’s Playstation magazine’s high score lists (back when you had to take a picture of your TV to prove your score).
It even got to a point in 2016 where I decided to 100% Tony Hawks 5 because I had an itch for skateboarding on my PS4.
So when (what appeared to be out of nowhere) Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2 was announced with a September 2020 release date I immediately jumped on Amazon to make sure I got my copy and told my girlfriend (the main gamer in the household) I was booting her off the PS4 for a couple of days when it came out.
Rose tinted glasses
On replaying the games, there were a few things I seemed to have forgotten about popping up, I guess due to the limitations of the original PS1 games, or maybe I just had less things pulling at me as a kid that it didn’t seem so bad.
It was the Mall and Burnside levels that really made me realise how ‘small’ the Tony Hawks 1 levels can be, with Mall basically forcing you to try and perfect a single line through it’s linear course and Burnside lacking any means to really score big points.
Burnside in particular really struck me as a pain in the arse to skate in, given the one minute rounds and the lack of any really interesting skating terrain. I ended up combining reverts and transfers with vert tricks in order to get first place, something that the original game lacked, so I have no idea how I managed it back in the day.
On a similar note to how small some of the levels are, I have ultimately been spoilt by EA’s Skate series and the lack of being able to get off my board, explore and find a killer spot really made me wish that Skate 4 was going to be a thing.
Talking of killer spots, I hated the rooftop gap task in the downtown level. I spent about an hour attempting to nail that particular combo. I’m sure if I left it to go and get more stat points I could have had an easier time but I’m one of those 100% the level and move on types.
Given the time investment for one task I was starting to get worried that the weekend wasn’t going to be enough. Luckily it was to get the proper game parts done but given how the game has been ‘modernised’ I’ll never complete it.
My favourite aspect of Tony Hawks is the pick up and play aspect of the game, you select a level (assuming you’ve unlocked it) and you scratch that skating itch. However the remaster is a modern game which means it’s not as simple as that.
While you can still get into a free skate session really easily, you have to wait ages to download a 4GB update to the game to actually start career mode. This meant that the lunch break I set aside to play it on launch day was spent skating around the hangar level making no progress towards anything.
One thing that was pretty good was the way that once the update was installed the game notified you and unlocked all the options which at least meant I didn’t have to close and re-open it, but I miss the days of bunging a disc in my PS1 and that being the only requirement.
Of course this day one update won’t be the only update to the game and I’m sure it won’t be the only thing to buy for it either as a set of DLC is right around the corner as that seems to be the way that things go these days.
Don’t get me wrong, adding more levels from the other games in the series will be great, but part of the issue with the Tony Hawks formula is that aside from the different in-course obstacles the gameplay is pretty limited.
Skate was a great game because it gave you the freedom to not only explore the environment but the freedom to craft your own skating style and record it, essentially making it more of a skateboard movie game than an actual skateboarding game.
Tony Hawks doesn’t have that and unless the DLC introduces the something completely different I’d rather the additional levels I’ll have to pay for just came included in the 40 quid I paid.
I think the game does try to give itself some scale though with it’s achievements and levelling system but I found this to be a shallow way of adding hours of gameplay, opting to have the player tick off trivial tasks on a list instead of shaking up how they play the game.
One last modernisation that I’m a little on the fence about is the option to turn on perfect balance and no-bail cheats from the offset. I understand that someone might want to see how high they can score without the need to practice, but as with real skateboarding part of the joy comes from mastering the techniques to do this stuff properly so those cheats feel like a bit of a cop out to me.
Some SICK new additions
One really awesome thing that’s been added is the ranked mode, essentially turning the completion of the levels and high scores into a global competition.
I particularly like the speed run mode, where you have to complete all the level objectives in as fast a time as possible.
This means you have to learn the lines the developers intended you to follow to collect all the different items while racking up a high score in order to complete both types of objective at the same time.
The create your own level and skater options are more feature-full than they were in the originals too however I didn’t invest much time in them after realising that my massive acid bomb course didn’t result in the skater gaining much speed, which kind of ruined it for me.
Replaying Tony Hawks 1 + 2 in HD was fun but it’s just made me realise how badly I want Skate 4.
It was great to spend an evening bombing around the old courses listening to all the old songs but I want a 4K, open world, create your own skateboarding video simulator where I can act out my skateboarding fantasy, as I’m too old and too shit at skateboarding to do them in real life.