Gamers of a certain age will no doubt remember the time when skating hit big in the late 90s and early 2000s. The original Tony Hawk Pro Skater hit at just the right time, where the underground professional skating scene was about to break into the mainstream. It nailed the vibe of the sub-culture, with music, fashion and an offbeat sense of humor pitched just right. It took off like a rocket, with huge sales success, and helped make Tony Hawk himself become a household name.
As with any massive hit product, the company behind them wanted to milk it for all it was worth. The publisher Activision signed a massive multi-year license to produce games in the Tony Hawk series and released a game in the series almost every year from 1999 to 2010. Activision’s license to use the Tony Hawk name expired in 2015, coinciding with the release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5. THPS 5 was considered by most to be a clearly rushed and unpolished title, just there to wring some last cash out of the license before putting the game series to bed.
With so many different groups involved, the skaters, the publisher, the developers, the skating brands, the record labels, it seemed to many that to get all involved parties back together to do some kind of rerelease, remake or continuation would be extremely tricky, especially since in 2020 it’s not a guarantee sales hit. But those conversations seem to have happened, and now we are indeed getting “Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2”, a remake of the first two games in the series bundled together, coming to PC and consoles on September 4.
This is not actually the first time these titles have been remade. There was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2x, an original Xbox remake of the first two games. The original games were still pretty recent at that time, but shifting over to more powerful hardware let them improve the graphics pretty significantly. Then there was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, released back in 2012. This was produced by developer Robomodo, rather than the original team at Neversoft, and it was kind of buggy, the physics didn’t feel right, and despite running in higher resolution on modern systems, they didn’t quite nail the aesthetic.
All the original levels from the first two games have been recreated with a modern lick of paint on them. I don’t think these visuals would blow anyone away, but it looks like a reasonably effective modern recreation of those levels that were originally made with big blocky polygons.
This remake is also taking care to bring back at least some of the musical artists from the original soundtrack, with acts like Goldfinger, Dead Kennedys, Powerman 5000, Rage Against the Machine, and Primus already confirmed to be returning. We’ll have to wait and see which tracks made the cut.
They’ve also confirmed that the entire roster of professional skaters from the first two games will be returning for this remake, although it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to include the unlockable Spider-Man from the original release of THPS 2 unless they want to cut a large check to Mickey Mouse.
The Create-A-Skater and Create-A-Park modes return, to let you custom-create a human avatar to act as your skater, and to custom design skate parks, which can now be shared online.
Based on the gameplay footage released so far, it does look like a reasonably accurate version of what I would expect a Tony Hawk remake to look like in 2020, and the movement and physics appear to be faithfully recreated. Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal told Polygon:
“We dug into Neversoft’s codebase, we were able to pull the handling code out of there, bring it into the engine that we’re in now and update it to make sure that we are making that feel exactly the way you remember it but updated with modern animation. It just looks incredibly smooth and the fidelity is fantastic.”
I’d need to get a controller in my hand to know for sure, but that certainly sounds promising, and it is a technique that was used for the Crash Bandicoot remake to great effect.
It’s available to preorder now, and anyone who does preorder will get early access to a demo, featuring the iconic warehouse level. I think I can still remember where the hidden tape is on that one.
In addition to the above trailer, Tony Hawk himself met up with a gaming YouTuber called “Jack Black” to talk about the game and share a bit more gameplay footage.
Did you play any of these games back in the day? Will you be checking out this new remake? Have you got a favorite trick or level from these games? Let us know in the comments.