Before we begin putting arms around each other as a bunch of PlayStation skateboarding fans, screaming classic pop-punk songs and praising this week’s new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, let’s remember the last time a nostalgic cash-in pretended to be a Superman.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD launched in 2012 as a last gasp of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation, but it was far from the return to skateboarding glory that fans had hoped for—especially as the series had been written off after watered-down sequels and peripheral add-ons. As a “compilation” of the first two mega-popular Tony Hawk games, THPSHD only included seven skateparks from both games combined. Its “HD” status may have technically been true, but glitchy physics, questionable color-mapping, and a broken “big drop” system made it far from definitive.
Eight years later, the series’ handlers at Activision are back with another crack at the first two Tony Hawk games, once again at the cusp of a new console generation. In good news, this time, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is… good. Like, it’s really good.
What to expect, how it feels
The sales pitch is simple: Every skatepark from the series’ first two PlayStation games is back, all touched up with modern graphical flourishes while otherwise resembling the courses’ original geometry. In kind, gameplay breaks down like it traditionally did—a mix of a “classic” campaign, ample “free skate” options, multiplayer versus, and a massive create-a-park mode.
Having spent the past day playing a lot of the remake’s PC version, I can report that the rebuilt-from-scratch controls and physics are (mostly) on point—with every major difference hinging on a jump from the original game’s refresh rate. What once natively ran at under 30fps can now run at an unlocked rate at arbitrary resolutions, and I’ve seriously enjoyed the results on my 144Hz monitor.
Mechanically, the multi-studio team that pieced Tony Hawk back together appears to have erred on the side of allegiance to the first two PlayStation games. How high you jump; how long you hover in mid-air while boosting up a half-pipe; how quickly your body rotates as you pull a trick; how long it…