- Developer: Vicarious Visions
- Publisher: Activision
- Release date: 25/06/2021
- Price: £39.99 / $39.99
- Review code provided by Activision
Introducing: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 – Nintendo Switch Review
It’s hard to believe that the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater released over 20 years ago! Back in 1999 the game came grinding onto the PS1 at a time when I was into inline skating. The chance to play a game that was so close to my real life passion struck a chord in a big way. Fast forward over 20 years and I’m in the middle of a mid-life crisis considering whether to take up skateboarding at the ripe old age of 35. The Switch port of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 may just be the straw the breaks the camel’s back (perhaps literally!). Despite the passage of time, this remastered collection makes these classics feel as vital as they did 20 years ago!
When Worlds Collide
For those who have been living under a rock, Tony Hawk is arguably the most famous skateboarder of all time, at least to those outwith the skateboarding scene. Back in 1999 he was the first person to land a 900 (at least one that was documented) and went on a real tear at the X Games from the mid nineties until the early noughties. What’s a 900 you ask? It’s a 900 degree spin, so two and a half full rotations. The X Games? It’s basically skateboarding’s Olympics, although skateboarding has in fact been added to the belated 2020 Olympics. In some respect you could argue Mr. Hawk played a part in that, propelling skateboarding into the mainstream way back in the 90s!
The Tony Hawk series spawned countless sequels of varying quality, but many have often cited the original games as the pinnacle. In my humble opinion, I respectfully agree. These remakes are a great opportunity for a younger generation to experience some real classics and also a great opportunity for crusty old geezers like myself to see the old games as we think we remember them, with a nice layer of polish for the modern era.
Back to the grind
The Tony Hawk series (in particular the earlier games) have always stood tall among the fairly mixed bag of skateboarding games over the years. These remasters (or should it be this remaster?) are very faithful to the PSX originals. That might sound unappealing if you’re not a fan of 90s-era gaming, but in practice they actually hold up very well. The modern day graphical upgrade, combined with the fact everything still feels fresh could fool someone unaware of the games’ history.
Whilst the remaster is faithful to the originals in many ways it also takes a few liberties, in particular by including the manual and revert systems from Tony Hawk 2 and 3 respectively. These two features are transplanted into the content from the original game, which improves it massively. The addition of the revert to the content of the second game also brings it up to the feature set of Tony Hawk 3, massively increasing the options for combos.
Other than those additions, the gameplay has been faithfully remastered and handles just as you remember from the good old days!
Do a kickflip!
Just like the PS1 games, you have a dedicated button for flip tricks, grinds and grabs whilst the B button acts as your Ollie (jump). On top of that, pressing up then down (or down then up) on the left stick or D-Pad initiates a manual, whereby your skater balances on the front or back wheels. A quick press of ZR whilst landing on a quarter pipe busts a revert, allowing you to slide your board 180 degrees upon landing and continue your combo. Everything is nice and arcadey, with enough depth to give those who want to really master the combo system the options to get creative. On top of your basic moves you build a special meter, which allows you to bust out some high scoring special abilities, including the legendary 900.
The meat of the game revolves around the two Skate Tours, which are the original campaigns from the first two games. These involve a tour of several different skate parks and street spots with a list of objectives, from scoring above a certain number of points to level-specific objectives like grinding a particular rail or performing a specific trick over a gap. New levels are unlocked by achieving a set number of objectives in all the prior levels, giving a bit of flexibility in your approach. In addition to the objectives each level has a number of hidden stat points which can be used to upgrade your abilities allowing you to jump higher, balance better and so on. These can make revisiting more difficult objectives earlier in the game much easier as you progress.
Despite its age, the mechanics still hold up beautifully and make revisiting many of the iconic spots a real treat!
Fans of the original games will fondly remember the soundtrack, a cracking mix of Hip-Hop, Nu-Metal and Ska Punk. The good news is that all of your old favourites are back. The sense of nostalgia seeing those old levels redone with modern graphics while Rage Against The Machine blares out once more is something special. In addition to the original tracklist there are a further 30 odd more modern tracks added, which fit in very nicely indeed! The soundtrack fits the vibe of the game perfectly and the new additions complement rather than detract from what was already there.
Port of a port
It’s all very well talking about how everything plays and sounds, but that’s all irrelevant if the game runs like some of the other ports we have seen come over from the big boy consoles. The good news here is that everything looks pretty good and runs amazingly well. The game runs at 30 FPS rather than the 60 you see on other consoles but the frame rate is solid, which is probably more important in a fast paced game like this.
The upgraded graphics of the remaster are functional rather than stunning, but they serve to show the game as you remember it rather than as it really was. I’ve made a few trips back to the originals in the last year and they definitely don’t look like I thought I remembered them! The shadows do render at a very low resolution which detracts a little, but isn’t a major issue.
The important thing is that the game plays fantastically well, bringing back some satisfying arcadey skating to be enjoyed on the big screen or in handheld. The 2 minute runs are perfect for a quick blast in handheld play.
The Switch port of Tony Hawk 1+2 is the perfect way to re-experience these old classics. It runs well, albeit looking slightly less sparkly than the Xbox and PlayStation versions and offers a lot of fun at a somewhat budget price point (assuming you don’t buy the deluxe edition).
On top of the Skate Tour mode, which will keep you busy for a while you have online play, where players can compete for the highest score against seven other players or to see who can tag the most spots in a level. The online connection was fairly stable when I played, but the frame rate seemed to take a bit of a hit with all the action on screen. Nonetheless it was a fun way to play and would probably work better in a private match with a smaller number of friends.
The game has an overarching XP system tied into a number of challenges, which caused me to sigh a little initially. As time went on I realised it was actually more like a really deep achievement system, something which the Switch is sorely missing! Thankfully the XP isn’t tied to any real progress other than really simple cosmetics.
The aforementioned deluxe version of the game includes some extra cosmetics and an additional character if you’re into that kind of thing.
- A beautiful way to play two real classics
- Expanded soundtrack is amazing
- The XP system adds extra depth
- Online play affects the frame rate
- Some level layouts show their age