My relationship with gravity isn’t one of defiance, it’s actually one of complete and self-destructive adherence. As someone with poor balance and an over-familiarity with asphalt, my dream of being a skater went out of the window at an early age and was instead confined to my living room. It’s fair to say Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater rocketed the Birdman himself to a level of superstardom, making him a household name while granting a virtual pathway for people like me to live out delusions of grandeur without assuming the risk of bailing out and dislocating a kneecap. To revisit the first two games in the series is a nostalgia trip like no other.
Synonymous with the Tony Hawk’s series, I feel as though Goldfinger’s “Superman” almost persists throughout time as a mantra for the attitude that beats within the heart of every cool, laid back wannabe skater type. “Feeling older all the time, feeling younger in my mind” sings to me on a spiritual level while I gorged on this remaster, as a now thirty-year-old, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a welcome return to a simpler time.
As a complete recreation of the first two games in the series, Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a tremendous collection of everything that made those first two games so special offered at an unquestionable value. Of course, it isn’t the first remaster of either of these two games, but it’s certainly the best of the lot. After their work on several other Tony Hawk ports and through the refinement of Neversoft’s original code, Vicarious Visions has managed to carve out Pro Skater 1 + 2, complete with almost twenty iconic levels from Warehouse, which reigns supreme as most people’s introduction to the series, to the Bullring in Mexico.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 feels like an arrangement of old and new. Although it’s billed as an assembly of the first two games, there’s a lot that carries over from later games in the series. Several tricks that didn’t appear in either of the first two games, such as reverts, wall plants, and spine transfers, all feature and give the game a much more modern and satisfying flow. I felt it when I played the Warehouse demo, but having a different tool chest of tricks to choose from really makes Pro Skater 1 + 2 feel brand new. Old lines you’d repetitively carve out as a kid and trusty combos aren’t likely to be your immediate go-to thanks to this newfound lease on creativity offered a more modern move set.
Although I love the dopamine hit attached to the level grind, no pun intended, that exists in Pro Skater 1 + 2, I found myself getting bogged down in the game’s menus a little too much. After every run, I’d spend a few minutes running through my challenge progress and cashing them in to get a bump in experience, upping stats and buying new gear from the Skateshop. I’m at odds with it, on one hand, I’d much rather just skate, but it’s great to have a plethora of unlockables to strive toward. Of course, there’s already a huge roster of pro skaters in the game, but the game also has a Create-A-Skater mode that, while a bit limited in its customisation options, lets players create their own in-game avatar complete with plenty of branded gear. There’s also a Create-A-Park mode which is also pretty exhaustive, although I’ve got a bit of a gripe with them locking a number of the cooler pieces behind the in-game currency in the Skateshop.
Even with two single-player skate tours on offer, Pro Skater 1 + 2 offers a great suite of multiplayer modes to keep people signing on in the days after exhausting their solo time with the game. I didn’t get to sample any of the modes, though I do appreciate that they’re catering to both casual and competitive players with segregated leaderboards, not to mention there’s couch co-op, which feels like a throwback to a bygone time. If you remember games like Graffiti, Tag and H-O-R-S-E fondly, I expect that you’ll feel at home here.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 features completely overhauled textures and looks terrific in its reimagined state, all of the levels are exactly as I remember them. One particular touch I adore is the teams’ decision to recreate all of the game’s original skaters at their present-day age, wrinkles and all. I’d find it absurd that Tony Hawk can still twist out a 900 at his age, but the fact that the great man did one for the last time at 48 probably suggests it’s not out of the question. As a whole, this remaster’s presentation is something to be commended, it remains true to the original while adding its own personality, leaning into the reflective spirit of the game. Like watching old tapes, each bail is marked by a glitched rewind animation that is quite a stylish watermark. I feel like the decision to add several new tracks to the soundtrack detracts slightly from what has forever been considered the definitive selection of tracks that defined a generation, even if all of the classics are still there.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 brings together two absolute classic skateboarding games under one roof and Vicarious Visions do not cut any corners in fleshing out the experience, creating the most complete, fully-realised versions of the games that put Tony Hawk, the oldest teenager alive today, on the map.
THE XBOX ONE VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a one-way ticket to the turn of the millennium. It's a complete, beautiful love letter to not only Tony Hawk himself as an icon but to a time when both the series and the sport of skateboarding itself were most pure and fun. As a bundle, and with the multiplayer providing even more longevity, this game offers unrivaled value.