Republished on Wednesday 27th July 2022: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of August's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is a series that defined early PlayStation just as much as Crash Bandicoot or Tomb Raider. The games are fondly remembered for their tight controls, licensed soundtracks, and endlessly replayable levels, although the franchise has certainly bailed a few times as well. Never fear, though, because Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a triumphant return to form.
Combining the first and second games into one package, this full-blown remake is a nollie flavoured nostalgia trip that will have old fans doing 900 degree spins in delight. As soon as you start playing, the controls feel absolutely spot on. It might take a minute to get back into the rhythm, but skating around and pulling off ridiculous tricks is just as fun as you remember from 20 years ago. It really does nail the handling, and frankly, that's half the battle won. Unlike the original two games, you have access to gameplay enhancements from later titles, such as spine transfers and the all-important revert. These moves allow you to keep combos going for miles, and landing a huge line of tricks is of course extremely satisfying. It feels particularly good at 60 frames-per-second, even if load times do take their sweet time.
But there's more than just the wonderfully tight controls to enjoy. Each of the 19 levels from the original games are presented here in glorious form. The visual overhaul and attention to detail on display is brilliant, with most stages given a dramatic new look. It goes without saying the graphics are a huge improvement on the originals, but so much care has been taken on each map to give them all a unique identity. School and School II are now radically different from each other, Venice Beach doubles down on the graffiti, and Mall now looks like something out of The Last of Us. It's a seriously impressive effort.
What's more, every level has had something added to it. This is most noticeable with the Tony Hawk 1 stages, where all the stages have more objectives to bring them in line with Tony Hawk 2. At the very least, each map now has a couple more gaps to find. It means that even veteran players will have something new to see and do, and that's to say nothing of the hundreds of challenges that'll keep completionists busy for a long time.
That leads us to some structural changes that make the collection more cohesive. Stat points for each character are now collectibles scattered across the game, and instead of picking up cash icons, money is earned simply through completing objectives and beating challenges. You'll also earn XP and level up, which in turn unlocks more and more cosmetic items with which to customise your own skater. It does seem a bit limiting that these items can't be used with pro skaters, but it does at least encourage you to experiment with making a custom character. All these different metrics might sound confusing, but everything feeds into rewarding the player in some way, and it makes the game feel more modern.
Speaking of modern, online play is pretty seamlessly integrated. You can easily start a session with friends or join a public lobby, and engage in all the multiplayer modes you remember, like Graffiti and Trick Attack. Local multiplayer is an option, too, where two skaters can enjoy some split-screen action.
As well as creating your own skater, Create A Park returns, and it's more robust than ever. You can place all manner of ramps, rails, and other objects, then share your masterpiece with the community. However, there's more to it than just dropping in half pipes and funboxes; you can use smart pieces to create truly custom parks. Placing one of these down, you can then modify them in various ways, leading to totally unique obstacles. It's kind of fiddly to use, but with some practice, you could easily make some fun maps using these tools.
Meanwhile, the soundtrack contains nearly all the music you remember while adding lots of new songs to the mix. While it's a shame that not all the songs from the originals are here, the vast majority of new additions fit right in. You can change what will show up in the playlist, but we left everything on as we enjoyed the variety. Among the skate punk and hip hop is some rap and pop music that somehow all hits the right tone.
There's so much packed into this game that it can all feel a little daunting at first. As you begin your arcadey skating career, you'll see a bunch of challenge notifications, your level increasing, cash racking up — it's a lot to keep track of. However, everything is smartly presented, and once you get used to the game's structure, it offers lots of reasons to keep playing. There are secret skaters to unlock, hidden areas to access, and more. It just about balances the old school feel with more up-to-date features, meaning both old and new fans should be satisfied.
Vicarious Visions has produced another excellent remake with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2. It brings those PS1 classics to the modern era with a wonderful visual upgrade, rock solid performance, and all the features you'd expect of a game released in 2020. Most importantly, though, it retains the specific feel of the franchise at its best, delivering an addictive, fast-paced, arcade-like experience. Old fans can rest easy knowing that the Tony Hawk games are back on form, while new players can dive into the skateboarding world for the first time. This game is sick, bro.
@Quintumply Nice write up! I bought this after the first round of reviews popped up, and I have to agree with your takes 100%! The game feels fresh, even as I play and am like, "Oh yeah....I remember this map!" It's pretty cool being able to relive the past, especially when it's this well put together. My skills from back then, though? I need a bit of polishing up.
Well to be fair, the pro skaters have extra costumes to unlock and unique board decals. And unlocking them also unlocks them for your custom skater which is nice.
And yeah, the Mall reminded me of TLOU too. Half expected a Clicker to start chasing me with all the noise I was making smashing through windows.
Brilliant, so looking forward to getting my hands on this! Way more hyped for this than anything else this year 😅
This game has occupied my thoughts while away from it more than I thought I would. Not since middle school have I been this hooked on a Tony Hawk game.
Sounds so good. Activision doesn't get enough credit for its excellent remake record this gen!
My Tony Hawk skills are not what they once were. Haha.
I’ve played an hour or so and I seem to have mastered face planting more than anything else. Haha.
I’m really enjoying this, but I’m way rusty from back then.
@get2sammyb I can't agree more. It's got to the point where the old discussion between what's a remake and what's a remaster has been blurred by the quality job that Activision have done
This game is amazing. Like 10/10 amazing for me. My muscle memory is remarkably intact from the hundreds of hours i poured into the originals, and i couldnt be happier to jump back in.
This game is pure noatalgia. But its also more than that. Its a game that you can drop in and out of at your leisure. The two minute rounds lend themselves well to fitting into short gaming sessions. And yet the game also nails that 'just one more go' feeling which sees you sat there for an hour, 2 hours, 3 hours and wondering where the time has gone.
A triumphant success and a huge well done to Vicarious Visions and Activision
Can't wait to get my copy. It's been years since I've played a Tony Hawk game.
I think the last TH game I've played was Underground.
Picked this up on Friday morning and barely stopped playing it since.
An absolutely fantastic remake and very faithful to the originals.
I've always kept my ps3 wired up in the bedroom so that I could pop the old Ps1 discs in whenever it took my fancy. All I need now is for gta 1 to be somehow released for modern consoles then I can finally retire my ps3
The 1 thing that let's it down for me is, after you tick of anything from any level, thats it! You can't reply the same level with another character looking to collect SKATE for e.g.
Other than that, yes it's a solid 8/10
I think somehow, contrary to what others have said, my muscle memory has remained intact for this game. I opened it up and was pulling off 200k combos right away. Quick tip for everyone is that when you are in a manual or grind, you can change the style loads in quick succession by mashing the top 3 face buttons, I think for manuals ∆∆, OO, ∆O, O∆, ∆, ∆ all change the manual and  does some sort of flip while you are doing the manual. Racks up the points quickly!
@Quintumply cheers for the write up! I ended up caving and buying it after the review round up posted here on Thursday. I finished the main campaigns and I'll see what else it has to offer. I think this game made me a feel a bit up and down. Up because it's awesome and down because I am still playing the same game I played as a ten year old. Really weird feeling! It's probably because I played these games for months/years back then and I literally just finished it in 2 days this time. I'm going to have a go at some other modes during the week, see what else there is to do on it!
@get2sammyb it's really weird that I've booted up 4 Activision games in the past few years (crash, spyro, CTR and this) considering I haven't touched (for any meaningful amount of time) an Activision game since the original Tony hawks series!
@pip_muzz I think for me (and I know people will disagree), a port is just a straight port, a remaster is like an unlocked port on full settings (some stuff may be changed but overall it's the same) like Turok, star wars episode 1 racer or the PS3 HD collections and a remake is a significant overhaul, either with gameplay or just graphics or both, so I'd classify this (and crash n
Sane trilogy) as a remake because its not just a HD port. A reboot is something that just takes influence from the original but goes in its own direction like Tomb Raider.
Why O’ why did they remove the separate goals for each skater. That’s where the replayability was.
Really bummed me out. You do the goals once and they are done. Really rubbish decision to change that.
Hope the patch them back in.
You should have to do goals as each skater if you are that way inclined it’s why we played the first versions for months
I’d seriously take two points off for that decision. It’s killed my buzz completely. Did the first two levels and wanted to go back and change skaters and do them again before moving on and you can’t. Really rubbish decision.
This would be a 8/9 if it wasn’t for that. For me it’s a 6/7 as this will not be one you keeping coming back.
If they remake ssx 3 they better not pull the same nonsense
Great game and great review, although I'm not sure if the listed Cons deserve a docking of 2 full stars.
My copy should be arriving soon. Looking forward to it cause this game looks spectacular.
@Stocksy well you suck
What about decks? Can you unlock a variety of cool decks for your board for any character?
I asked elsewhere, but didn't get an answer. Is the online on this actually functional, or is it like CTR and is just broken? Because it seems to be quite an important part of this. I can't wait to get my grubby little mitts on it and relive my childhood.
It is fun. I know I’m banging the drum but SSX! SSX
@ralphdibny Hahaha you’ve just described my high score strategy on THPS3 and 4! Manuals with handstands, flips and pogo can fair rack up the points.
@nessisonett lol, I reckon thps4 is where I first learned it!
@ralphdibny Man, i could honestly kiss you. I couldnt remember how to pogo, etc... from manuals. It was driving me insane. Completley forgot you could adjust the manual/grind with the face buttons.
This is the second 2020 made game I have purchased (after Animal Crossing) and I am reliving lots of old memories.
Not only is this a polished remake of 2 games in one, but the fact Activision asked for $40 instead of $60 sealed the deal for me.
@Stocksy @Dreamscape20 You can do a speedrun with a character. That's a mode where it times you to get all goals in a level. There's a par time to beat (e.g. 2 minutes for Warehouse) and a hard time to beat (e.g. 1 minute for Warehouse - yes all goals in just 60 seconds 😭) but you can of course just do all goals at your leisure as the timer rolls on.
It's everything I wanted and more. I'm especially happy how they doubled the number of objectives in the first game and added so many challenges in general. I can't imaging this remake being more perfect (other than including THPS3).
Can the directional pad still be used instead of analogue sticks?
@Arnna yep, i am only using the dpad. Analogue sticks feel too imprecise for me for this type of game!
@Weebleman my goodness! Well I'm glad I can be of some help at least 😅
@Rob_230 thank god for that
@zimbogamer Each pro has specific decks to unlock that only they and any custom skaters can use. Then the custom skater has an absolute sh*tload of decks to unlock that only they can use. Also you unlock different wheels, grip tape, clothes, logos (for your profile and clothing) and even new parts for the Create-a-Park mode. You can also change your trucks but can't unlock new ones as far as I can see.
@Quintumply Do the remakes let us play as Spider-Man, or was he removed because Activision no longer has the licensing rights?
Awsome games.spent hours playing these as a kid but remember being alot better than i am now tho 🙈. Guessing old man reactions are kicking in now.
@KidBoruto No Spider-Man. Not unless it's an incredibly well kept secret. You can unlock Officer Dick and an alien, as far as I know. The closest you'll get to being Spider-Man is a web pattern for your grip tape.
@Kidfunkadelic83 I've been watching a skater play it on YouTube and he's played all the games regularly since they came out. He's a lot better than me but he did say that the characters are heavier, yet they move faster, and that the balance metres seem to degrade faster. And this is a guy that's played some of the games that were hacked so you have 0 in all stats - so he's used to it being a challenge but it still stood out to him.
@Matroska oh yeah it defenately feels faster
@KidBoruto Yeah, Spider-Man isn't in the remake unfortunately.
@Quintumply @Matroska That's unfortunate, but here's hoping Spider-Man can be added later as DLC.
Be warned, this game has a new coat of plaint and far better frame rate, BUT the old school jankiness and questionable physics remain exactly the same.
As a result it’s not easy to just ‘slip back into’ your old high scores and skill level.
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