Like many 30-somethings hungry for nostalgia, I was full of excitement when the initial trailer for the Tony Hawk Pro Skater remasters dropped. But seeing this iconic gaming franchise brought back to life also raised some questions, given the previous attempt eight years ago to mixed reviews.
My primary concern was a simple one: Would THPS 1+2 deliver that same feeling of joy it did two decades ago?
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After years of stick-flicking my way around Los Angeles in EA’s Skate series, I wondered if I could easily jump back into the way Pro Skater plays, which focuses more on button combinations for tricks. A quick tutorial confirmed that it’s still simple to pick up and hard to master – great news for both rookies and seasoned players alike – and the controls feel as tight and responsive as ever.
Starting off with the legendary Warehouse level from the first game, each two-minute round has you aiming to complete a variety of objectives to unlock more maps. Standard courses give you the freedom to tackle these in whatever order you want, but competition stages will pit you against CPU skaters, with a third place or higher required to move onto the next level.
The level design itself is incredible. You can tell how much time and effort went into giving these 20-year-old courses the ultimate makeover. All 17 stages – from the streets of San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York, to shopping centres, aircraft hangars and skate parks – have their own unique charm to discover. Skaters will find themselves dodging crazy taxi drivers and wayward streetcars, not to mention grinding that police car parked outside a doughnut shop – classic.
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Your skater earns cash and experience from each session, allowing you to unlock a plethora of clothes, boards, logos and more to customise your character. Once there was enough money in the bank, I went for a look that loosely resembles what I can only describe as a rejected member from the band Mushroomhead.
Along with the classic mode, there is ranked and free skate available, allowing players to jam any course at their own pace, or do a two-minute session and see how your high score stacks up against other players. For the creative types, there is the option to build your own skateparks, and if you want to get competitive, jump online and test your skills against the rest of the world – two features I’m looking forward to testing out further in the future.
It’s a simple game, but that’s not a bad thing. THPS sports an addictively fun loop that has me wanting to perfect those special moves and spend the hours building up my skater to become the ultimate pro – all while nodding my head to a pumping soundtrack.
Going back to my original question, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2 definitely still provides the sheer joy of racking together a big combo, along with the utter disappointment of seeing those points disappear because you stuffed up your balancing on a manual or grind to extend the line. The nostalgia bar is well and truly full.
Logan Swinkels is a sports video specialist for News Corp Australia. Catch him live on Twitch every week at twitch.tv/swinksnz