I would think it’s safe to say that the skateboarding video game landscape has been pretty barren in recent years. However, when it was announced that skateboarding was going to be included in the 2020 Olympics, multiple studios started reporting that they were developing new skateboarding titles. This was great news for skaters and fans of the genre. Two major questions instantly emerged in the minds of gamers. Will we see the return of the Tony Hawk franchise? And if so will it be another dumpster fire that was Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5? I’m am absurdly thrilled to tell you that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is in fact a true to form THPS game and I believe it will go down in history as one of if not the best THPS title ever.
Activision tapped developer Vicarious Visions who was known for porting THPS titles to the Nintendo GBA with the task of not only bringing THPS 1+2 to the modern era but to also breathe new life into these beloved games. Upon startup, you will be greeted with an adrenaline-filled montage video introducing all of the familiar returning pro skaters along with new additions such as Aori Nishimura, Nyjah Huston, and Riley Hawk to name a few. The home menu that follows is clean, organized, and easy to navigate… Across the top you will see the following tabs:
- HUB – Skate Tour (takes you to THPS 1,2 and free roam) Multiplayer and create a park. In the create a park section, you also have the ability to upload your creations along with the option to play & rank other created parks.
- SKATER – Select your pro skater or create your own. This is also where you customize your skater’s gear and stats.
- SKATE SHOP – Purchase Boards, Trucks, Wheels, Apparel, Tattoos, Logos, and create a park items.
- CHALLENGES – As you unlock levels new challenges appear such as “land a combo with a grab, a revert and a manual”. You will be rewarded with cash, new tricks, and other goodies.
- PROFILE – From this tab, you can change your profile badge for the world to see during Multiplayer. As you progress and increase your overall THPS level more badges will unlock.
One of the best features in THPS 1+2 is the combined integration of the in-game currency (Skate Bucks). As you play in either game, the skate bucks earned can be used in the central skate shop as mentioned above. All items purchased can be used in both games. I love this smooth fusion of the two which makes them feel like one game and you are just going into a different section and not a completely different title. For example, boot up THPS 1 and you will see all the game locations along with descriptions. You will not see the original boot screen or menu system which is common in other franchise compilations currently available. This game looks and feels like it was built from the ground up and I love it!
THPS 1+2 allows us to use all original skaters in both games. So skaters that were added in THPS 2, can now be played in THPS 1 and the same applies to all of the new skaters along with your created skaters. Another fun addition is seeing all the original pros skaters compared to their current real-world likeness. It’s as if THPS was a forgotten Tamagotchi capsule and upon opening all the skaters had aged. The skaters don’t perform any different but this was definitely a cool addition. Each pro skater has multiple outfits that can be unlocked as you play and this includes their younger selves too.
Vicarious Visions made it known that THPS 1+2 would be built upon their original game’s source code. This ensures that the games will move, feel, and control the say way we remembered them. In 2012, developer Robomodo gave us THPS HD. One of the main complaints players had about this version was that the skaters felt floaty, unnatural, and not like the original. So to hear THPS 1+2 would be going back to the roots was wonderful news.
Having said that, Vicarious Visions included moves and animations introduced in THPS 3+4 titles such as revert, spine transfer, and wall plant. These were quality of life improvements to the franchise and enhanced the overall gameplay experience. However, if you’re a purist then these settings can be changed so you can play with the original THPS 1+2 moveset. An interesting new addition is pro skater voices. Each pro skater provided his / her voice to say various things when landing a big combo or taking a nasty fall. I had no issues with this new feature and it’s not obnoxiously triggered so when it happens it feels justified and reminiscent of something I would utter when skating in real life. This new feature is also implemented in the “create a skater” mode.
THPS 1+2 nailed it in the gameplay department. Your muscle memory will instantly kick in as you kickflip onto a rail, land 50/50, and 180 heelflip out into a nose manual. All the odd skater controls found in THPS HD are nonexistent in THPS 1+2. The 20+ locations between the two titles look absolutely stunning. The lighting, expanded draw distance and texture detail makes every map pop with new life. Back in the day, I spent countless hours playing the original THPS 1+2 yet each one here feels completely new yet familiar. What really blew me away is the in-game ambient/environment sounds. Everything sounds new and vibrant. I highly recommend using surround sound speakers or headphones to truly hear how good everything sounds.
On the topic of audio, the THPS 1+2 soundtrack combines many of the original tracks while including 37 new tracks from artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, American Nightmare, and Billy Talent. Another cool feature (while minor to some) is that songs can continue to play throughout the game. If you are listening to a track in the main menu, that song will continue to play in whichever THPS 1+2 location you select. The same applies when you leave or restart a session. The last song played will continue to play until completion.
Speaking of continuous play, when you bail on a trick, a cool reverb sound will play while the music drowns out in the background but still playing. Your skater will also get up and continue to skate. There is no awkward black screen to replace your skater which was seen in THPS HD. All these little tweaks keep the gameplay flowing and the player immersed. THPS 1+2 also goes all-in with the multiplayer and local play modes which consist of the following:
- Score Challenge
- Combo Challenge
- Combo Mambo
- Trick Attack
- and fan-favorite Free Skate
I jumped around these MP modes and encountered little to no lag or connection issues. We may be nearing the end of the current console generation but by no way does it mean that the gaming well has dried up. THPS 1+2 is without a shadow of a doubt an instant classic. Vicarious Visions put love into this game and it’s evident in every aspect. Nothing feels lackluster or ignored. The title should have been “Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 Definitive Edition”. Gone are the days where you had to tell your kids about this awesome skateboarding game you played in your youth. This is it, people! Get the digital version to play forever and the physical copy to store in your vault. THPS 1+2 is officially the G.O.A.T!
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 for the PlayStation 4 provided by Vicarious Visions and Activision.