Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
The smell of my best friend’s bedroom in senior year. The feeling of a Dreamcast controller in my hands. The warm look of an old school CRT. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 brings back my fondest memories of killing time in my small town.
Grinding memory lane
The remake captures all of these feelings because it maintains the originals’ “easy to learn, hard to master” gameplay, with a lovely, glossy coat of current-gen paint. If all you wanted to know was if the gameplay held up, then yes, it absolutely did. Go buy it.
It’s a bargain for a mere $40. That’s about what you would’ve paid for used versions of these games six months after they were released, digging through a Gamestop bin (speaking of memories). If you’re an old-timer who’s feeling nostalgic for a simpler time (and who isn’t right now?) or if you just want to know what all the fuss is about, it’s an easy impulse buy. Don’t worry if you’ve never played the game before; it has an excellent tutorial.
It teaches you how to do a trick, and then asks you to pull it off a few times. It drops you into a skate park and doesn’t force you to move on after you fulfill the objective. Unlike other tutorials, you’re allowed to keep working on it as many times as you want before moving onto the next thing.
THPS1+2 brings in aged but still badass versions of your favorite original characters - the titular Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Chad Muska, Jamie Thomas, Elissa Steamer, Rodney Mullen, et al. Each one has different stats based on their individual style. Hawk, who made his name on his vert skills and his famous 900, has great air, while Rodney Mullen, maker of the original Rubbish Heap street skating videos, has great stats for grinds and balance.
But it also brings in new blood, and that includes current female, Asian, black, and trans pro skaters. The cast of the original THPS reflected the real world of skateboarding, and that meant diversity and inclusion (before we were calling it that). THPS1+2 keeps that streak going, and that makes me so happy.
Speaking of nostalgia and new blood, the soundtrack is awesome. It combines old ‘90s tunes from the original games with new punk, metal, and hip-hop tracks. I was psyched to hear Worlds Collide and Police Truck again. And I’m a pretty big fan of Deathwire by Rough Francis, an Afropunk band I never would’ve heard if I hadn’t been covering THPS. However, if you hate a track, you can click your right stick to skip to the next song.
You can build your own skater, including their appearance, outfits, and board. More aesthetic options can be bought using in-game currency, which can be earned by skating. Don’t worry, no one tried to ruin the original experience with loot boxes and MTX.
When you build a custom skater, you can choose your set of opening set of stats. You can choose vert, street, or park (a balance of the two), which influences your stat point layout. You get more stat points by finding them in levels and can change up your stats if you find that you like one kind of skating better than the other, or one style fits a particular level better.
THPS1+2 hails from a simpler gaming era. The single-player campaign consists of working your way through each level, attempting to achieve old school goals like a high score, or gathering collectibles inside of the time limit. Complete enough objectives and the next level unlocks.
It’s tougher than I remember; I thought I would unlock all the content in my first few hours, but THPS1+2 brick-walled me at level two of the THPS1 and level one of the THPS2. Modern gaming has made me soft. However, if you’re lousy THPS, you can try any level via free skate mode, and you can try to attain a high score on online leaderboards. No need to struggle through unlocking levels if you don’t want to.
THPS1+2 also offers you something that the original didn’t - a skate park editor and an online community full of folks sharing their own custom parks. I can’t really tell you how user-friendly the editor is. I am terrible at making game levels. But it can’t be that hard; there are already a ton of levels available. Activision beat the original THPS series to death with unnecessary sequels. There’s no need for that now; you can skate new parks every day, pretty much forever.
The game also includes online multiplayer, which is a lovely little playlist of timed game modes. Sometimes your goal is to nail the best combo in two minutes or reach a certain score before anyone else does. It’s not complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s fun to skate with other people, and you can’t hit each other. I’m sure the wide world of gaming will find some way to troll each other via THPS1+2, but as far as I can tell, there’s no way to ruin anyone else’s fun. It’s a fun, laid back way to test your skills.
There’s also local multiplayer; if you want to play it like me and my friends did, make sure to drink way too much Mountain Dew and punch each other in the shoulder between rounds.