Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 | First Impressions

There is one major problem with most remastered video games, and that is too much change. Remasters may have the same feel of the original, briefly taking you back to being young again and reminding you of the great first experience you had of playing the game, but they almost always begin to seem dull and pale in comparison to the original after an extended period of time. All of that being said, I can confidently say that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is the best video game remaster I have ever played.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater was a huge part of my childhood. My earliest Christmas memory is waking up to open up my brand-new PS2 with a copy of Tony Hawk Pro-Skater 4 and even before that, I remember playing Pro-Skater 2 on my N64 with my brother (I will never forget that beautiful yellow cartridge). So it's easy to say that my expectations for the remaster were high to begin with, and the game had a ton of opportunity to let me down. I'm thankful to say that it didn't.

THPS, for those who do not know, is a skateboarding game that combines score-earning tricks with a scavenger hunt. The levels require you to perform a list of tasks that range from beating a high score to destroying five cop cars and finding secret tapes. All while shredding and grinding on the skateboard of your choice.

The most important thing about THPS is how the mechanics function because you need to be precise when landing various tricks to ensure you are getting the most points possible. I will admit that they aren't perfect, but the slight imperfection where you come down at a wrong angle and mess up a nice trick is where you get the thrill of skateboarding. Now I know it is impossible to say a video game makes you feel like you're skateboarding (believe me Activision tried with Tony Hawk Ride), but just like in other sports, precision is always key for performing at a high level. In THPS 1 + 2 there's a nice balance between the precision and pure dumb luck necessary to land insane jumps.

The levels in Tony Hawk's Pro Sater 1 + 2 are just as I remembered them. The feeling of starting up the first Pro Skater on Warehouse and breaking into the secret room to collect S-K-A-T-E was nostalgic, to say the least, but what I really appreciate is that they did not alter the original levels to gear to any new mechanics or moves that they added into the game. This is truly just a remaster, they updated the graphics for current-gen consoles and left the rest mostly alone otherwise.

I say "mostly" because there are a few new add-ons. Extra playable characters, some customization for your outfits and skateboards, "Create a character" option, and a system that can earn you more skill points. These additions all work in favor of the game. Each in their own way they allow you to tailor the game more towards how you play, for example, I enjoy grinding and basically anything that requires you to balance, so I started the game by choosing a character that focused more on grinding and then increased it with the available skill points that are found throughout the levels ensuring that I have the most success in that area. This also adds a level of strategy to the game. There are definitely some challenges that I struggled with but when I adjust my skill points or even change my skater to cater to what needs to be done, like performing a trick over a gap, it makes it that much easier to accomplish. Meaning that the game does require some thought on your end to help you get the most enjoyment out of the game. And the option to create a character is a fun and creative way for players to immerse themselves further into the game.

Thanks to a tracklist of music that you may never get tired of listening to, just like in the originals, the soundtrack is one of the best aspects of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Since skateboarding is not the most exciting sport or action to listen to, you really cannot underestimate the importance of a good soundtrack, and Activision (or whoever curated the soundtrack) has made it not only one of the most memorable things about the game but also a crucial part of the overall experience.

After playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 over the past few days I honestly think there is not a single bad thing I can say about it. It is the best video game remaster I have ever played and at a price of only $39.99, I don't think you can get more bang for your buck out of another game based on replay value alone. And that's not even mentioning the beauty of the simplistic level design, and the overall fun and joy that comes from playing the game. I just now hope that I will be able to continue my skateboarding obsession on the PS5 or Xbox Series X when those consoles come out, but that's a topic for another day. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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