Why Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 needed to come back
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 are loved and needed to come back. Canadian pro skaters Ryan Decenzo and TJ Rogers tell us what they love so much about the series.
The return of the Tony Hawk franchise has brought hype from all corners. This series of skateboarding games has touched people from several walks of life, regardless of their interest in skateboarding. The earlier entries in the series are total nostalgia fuel for those who were lucky enough to have had them in their game libraries.
It all started with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, released for the Sony PlayStation in 1999. The fast, objective-based gameplay featuring real world skaters brought an unprecedented level of access to people who felt like staying indoors that day. Through the years, it’s seen new entries, like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2-5, as well as offshoots, like the excellent Tony Hawk’s Underground games.
Later years have seen diversions from the classic formula, such as the Ride and Shred games, but gamers have been hungry for a return to form. The series is beloved by members of the skate community, and the return of Tony Hawk 1+2 as a bundled, updated package, has them flocking to their controller of choice in droves. Among those excited gamers are Canadian Pro Skaters Ryan Decenzo and TJ Rogers who are looking forward to taking a break from the outdoors to go in on the digital grind for a little while.
“The Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise is one of the best video games ever created,” says TJ Rogers, not being shy about showing love. “I’ve been playing the games for over 20 years on my N64 and I still do to this day. It’s pretty dope.”
More than just a game
Following its PlayStation release, Tony Hawk games were found on everything ranging from the N64 and the gone before its time Sega Dreamcast, to more modern consoles through the ages like the PS2, original Xbox and beyond. If you had any sort of gaming device over the years, chances are, you had access to one of these games. THPS1+2 carried on that legacy when it dropped for Xbox One, PS4 and PC in September, 2020.
The early Pro Skater titles became bigger than action sports video games, they became a part of pop culture. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that a ton of peoples’ taste in music was helped along by nascent exposure to these games.
We asked Ryan Decenzo if there were any songs that reminded him of the THPS games, and he immediately responded with “Superman, by Goldfinger”. Play that song for any crowd of people (who are old enough to have played THPS1 at release), and see how many people say that song reminds them of THPS.
The music was going to be a very important part of the upcoming remaster. We’re happy to report that Goldfinger, Rage Against the Machine, and Naughty by Nature will all be returning to the game’s soundtrack, along with a majority of original sonic cast. While bringing back the classics is a nice touch, THPS1+2 will go above and beyond by adding a whopping 37 new artists including Billy Talent, Merkules, and Zebrahead, among others.
Still dripping in style
It’s great to see the team behind THPS1+2 recognize the game’s important place in culture, and the excitement around the re-release. While keeping everything they love, like a lot of the old music as well as a bunch of level geometry (that’s right, most of your old skating lines will still be intact), they’re updating the experience to be just as impactful on newer audiences.
Part of what makes the older games so memorable was their style. Watching a skate video, and then being able to control that skater in game, bringing their swagger to life in a game dripping with flair, was a treat.
“It’s a toss up between either Chad Muska or Kareem Campbell. I just loved their style in the game," says TJ Rogers when asked about his favourite skaters to play as. He became a fan watching their videos, with his favourites being Muska’s ‘Fulfill the Dream’ and Campbell’s ‘World Industries Trilogy’.
The THPS games gave him a way to interact with his favourite skaters before he started his own journey as a pro, making it an even bigger deal when he finally got to meet the legends.
It was inspiring, honestly. Seeing them [while] growing up and then, to finally meet them, was a very surreal moment.
This return to what made the classics, with new additions has THPS1+2 poised to once again cement itself as a pillar of popular culture. The new game isn’t just for the people who were there in 1999 and want to relive the glory days because new games are scary. It’s about building off of something beloved, which still holds up, but making it newer and fresher to introduce a whole new generation to something new.
Bringing in a new generation
The combination of reverence and modernizing can also be seen in the title’s aesthetic choices. This remaster involves more than just upping the resolution when it comes to the cast of characters you’ll be able to control. The diverse cast will include newcomers like Leticia Bufoni and Riley Hawk, alongside icons like Geoff Rowley and, naturally, Tony Hawk himself, all sporting their own unique styles. It’s been 20 years since the original, and the old school skaters have been re-scanned into the game to feature their older, still incredibly talented selves.
“I think it’s super rad! Makes it seem like real life where skaters of all generations skate together and legends motivate the newer generations,” says Ryan Decenzo about the inclusion of aged skaters.
It didn’t take much for fans of the old games to start traipsing down memory lane. There were some rumours, some alleged leaks, and even a hilarious instance of Tony Hawk DMing people about the, as of the time, unannounced game, which sent Twitter into a frenzy, reliving how they fell in love with the original.
Now I’m just looking forward to playing with some new characters that are my friends.
While a straight up port probably could have satisfied the masses, a lot can happen in 20 years. There’s a whole new generation aspiring skaters and gamers looking for an over the top experience, who don’t have the time to go thrifting for an old PS1 just so they can play an outdated game. While the gameplay holds up, there’s certain quality of life changes made in newer games, the absence of which might gatekeep modern gamers from taking a chance.
“My favourite game modes were the cheat codes like perfect balance,” says Ryan Decenzo when asked about what he remembers the most about the old games. “Now I’m just looking forward to playing with some new characters that are my friends.”
In keeping with the new, the game’s title is a little deceptive because it features additions well out of the scope of the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2. The game is almost a bit of an anthology, including tricks that weren’t introduced until later games (like reverts and lip tricks), allowing players to execute skate lines that were impossible in the original release.
There’s also a create a skater mode, which was absent from Pro Skater 1, as well as online Multiplayer which wasn’t introduced until Pro Skater 3. Not only can you rock fits and hit tricks you couldn’t before, now you can do it with friends. With modern advancements in gaming, you don’t need to wait until your friends come over to show them your over the top custom character hitting an impossible line, so get ready for your social media feeds to be bursting with four wheeled creativity.