It’s rare when something that’s so clearly playing off of your nostalgia actually delivers and makes good on all of those memories you have of a game instead of just reminding you how flawed your brain is. It turns out that the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series was phenomenal and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 brings everything you loved about the series into the modern era extremely successfully.
From the start you’re immediately struck with the first wave of nostalgia in the form of a compilation of skate footage starring the characters of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, set to Guerrilla Radio by Rage Against the Machine. I also enjoy that none of the footage was reused from old games, and instead it’s just modern footage of new and aged skaters doing sick tricks. It’s one of the first examples of this game knowing exactly what it is and who it’s for.
When you get to the main menu you can choose between playing the first or second Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, along with a third option for online and free skate which I admittedly have not engaged with yet. There’s a pretty decent character and board creator that you unlock more options for by completing in-game challenges across both games, as well as a park creator that I also have not touched yet. The challenges can get pretty wild too, asking you to make specific combos over certain gaps and such, but luckily Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 allows you to track specific challenges if you like.
But that’s all ancillary stuff we’re talking about, the real magic is in the gameplay. As far as I can tell, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 feels just like I remember those originals feeling. It’s fast and snappy and borderline infuriating when you over rotate and fall on your ass, just like I remember. Even better is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2‘s decision to include various accessibility options that allow you to toggle certain game features on and off along with certain cheats like unlimited special meter an perfect grind balance.
For example, I don’t believe the revert was in the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but it is when you use the default gameplay options. If you really want that first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater experience though, you can change the feature set to what was available in that first release. I don’t know why anyone would do that but the option exists if you want to have less fun.
The weird thing about talking about the mechanics of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is that if you’ve played those original games, you know how this one plays too. It’s the game you remember except prettier. It retains all the good and bad about those first two games, including the one or two bad levels you had to slog through to get back to the fun ones, but I genuinely forgot how much I hated some of these levels until I was confronted with them once more.
Aside from the game itself, I think the most pleasant surprise for me was just revisiting the soundtrack once more. It’s weird to return to the place where a lot of your music tastes were cultivated nearly over two decades ago, but in a good way. I can’t remember what song played in the main menu in the original, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 immediately starts playing Superman by Goldfinger because they know exactly who their audience is and what song jumps to mind when they think of that first game.
There’s always the worry that you’re remembering a game being way more fun and memorable than it actually was, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 validates all of that nostalgia by delivering a truly fantastic remake of a those classic games. It’s also hilarious to me that they aged up all of the skaters from the original game allowing us to finally see a man in his mid fifties do a 900 off a rooftop only to get hit by a car that’s whipping around corners at breakneck speeds, and I think we could all use a little more of that in 2020.