Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 review: Welcome back to The 9 Club, bro

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is out now, and the king may now reclaim his skateboarding video game throne. How good is the game? Our review.

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Skateboarding may not be as popular of a sport as it was in the late 1990s or early 2000s, but skating will always hold a special place in my heart. The same is true for the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise, which really dominated the world for a period of time around the turn of the century. Like many good video games, it was released and iterated upon over and over again until what remained was not so great. In fact, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 received a 1/10 rating making it the lowest-rated game ever reviewed on Shacknews. Times have changed, developers have folded, and a new era of the THPS franchise is upon us with a remake from Vicarious Visions. Tony's Hawks's Pro Skater 1+2 brings together the first two games in the series in an amazing package that is nothing short of outstanding. Find out more about why this game deserves to join your library in our review.

Return of the King

Tony Hawk is one of the most popular skateboarders of all-time, and his video game franchise was the gold standard in skating games for many years. With Tony Hawk's 1+2, a whole new generation of players will get to witness the magic that was the early era of THPS games. Tony, Chad Muska, Rodney Mullen, and even Bob Burnquist are all back in THPS 1+2 and they are joined by a new cast of modern skaters including Nyjah Huston and Riley Hawk.

THPS 1+2's Create-a-Skater feature allows players to create a variety of playable characters, like my good buddy Earl Divx.
THPS 1+2's Create-a-Skater feature allows players to create a variety of playable characters, like my good buddy Earl Divx.

If you aren't feeling any of these skaters that come with the game, THPS 1+2 has a Create-a-Skater feature that allows players to create a playable character that will work in both online multiplayer and single player game modes. I created my good old avatar Earl Divx, who has most recently been seen in Animal Crossing: New Horizons and on the sidelines coaching in NCAA Football 13. It's a little thing, but being able to recreate my old skater from the 90s really cranked up the nostalgia. He may be a bit more gray than last time he was on a board, but he was back to doing handstand manuals after a few days of grinding for Stat Points. 

What's old is new

THPS 1+2 may be developed by Vicarious Visions, but they show a lot of love to the original developer Neversoft.
THPS 1+2 may be developed by Vicarious Visions, but they show a lot of love to the original developer Neversoft.

THPS 1+2 brings players back to the classic levels of the franchise's first two games, but with a twist. Players have a new moveset that incorporates a lot of the innovations of THPS 2 and 3. Now players are able to chain together combos off of vert ramps with reverts and manuals in ways that were never possible in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. The gameplay mechanics are damn near perfect, but I did notice that some of the THPS 1 levels don't really take advantage of the modern moveset as easily. This is likely because the levels were designed before the gameplay mechanics were created. It may be a tiny gripe, but it is worth pointing out. To be honest, there weren't that many good levels in the first THPS, and that is still true in 2020 even with a new moveset and coat of paint.

THPS 1+2 gives a nod to the franchise's history in the remake of the iconic THPS 2 Hangar level.
THPS 1+2 gives a nod to the franchise's history in the remake of the iconic THPS 2 Hangar level.

While many of the first THPS levels weren't that exciting for me to return to, THPS 2 is a completely different story. My playthrough of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 really perked up once I made my way into the THPS 2 levels. There are some certifiable bangers of levels in this package, from Venice, Skatestreet, and even the Bullring. THPS 2 levels are just better and that is still the case in 2020. The levels also hold up very well with the new moveset as they were designed with manual tricks in mind, unlike the game's first installment. Players who want the original experience of each game are able to change the moveset to THPS 1 or 2 in the settings, allowing for even more challenging playthroughs of the game. This game is already teeming with replay value, and little features like this really go a long way to make THPS 1+2 even more fun to play over and over again.

Bring the Noise

The THPS 1+2 soundtrack is outstanding, but there are some audio design choices that add a bit of noise to the mix.
The THPS 1+2 soundtrack is outstanding, but there are some audio design choices that add a bit of noise to the mix.

The soundtracks for the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 were outstanding, and Vicarious Visions has done a great job of putting everyone back together with some new tracks too. Players who want a traditional soundtrack experience will have to go in and remove tracks one by one until you reach playlist nirvana. In a total surprise, Anthrax and Public Enemy's Bring the Noise song is featured in the THPS 1+2 soundtrack even after the developers said the track would be omitted. This was a pleasant surprise, but there are some things about the game's audio design that made my celebration very short-lived.

When a player bails, falls down and the trick or combo fails, the game plays a video tape rewinding sound effect and the skater gets all pixelated as they get back on the board. This plays over the music, and is pretty jarring when it happens. It seems like the developers really went ham with making the sound effects in the game extra video-gamey. When a player successfully chains together enough tricks in a combo to get their Special Meter completely full, the game adds a sort of echoy reverb effect to the music. I think this was done to make the Special Tricks feel more epic, but it sort of sucks the energy out of the run because you literally can't hear the music as well.

Bailing on a trick is not consistent in THPS 1+2, and it makes for a slightly easier game experience than the original games.
Bailing on a trick is not consistent in THPS 1+2, and it makes for a slightly easier game experience than the original games.

I would also argue that the changes made to the bail mechanic have made THPS 1+2 a less punishing game than the original titles, as bailing doesn't always end with your skater on the ground with bumps and bruises. Many times a failed trick is barely penalized as skaters just jump back on their boards. This is a bit unrealistic and it removes some of those hilarious ragdoll accidents that would happen back in the day. Many of the design decisions were probably made in the interest of making the game more accessible to players, but it bothered me as a grizzled, old veteran of the franchise.

9 Club, bro!

Shacknews gives THPS 1+2 a 9/10!
Shacknews gives THPS 1+2 a 9/10!

Vicarious Visions has a masterpiece on their hands with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2. They handled the remake of theses games with the right amount of reverance while still leaving their own signature on the work. THPS 1+2 combines awesome gameplay mechanics, impressive graphics, and an outstanding soundtrack in a complete package of skateboarding greatness. Some modes like the online multiplayer function could use more work, but the game makes up for any minor shortcomings with the overwhelming amount of things that are done just right. From nods to past versions of the game, to the pixel-for-pixel remakes of each iconic level, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is one of the best games to be released in all of 2020. Congratulations to Vicarious Visions! I can only hope that the studio will be allowed to release a THPS 3+4 on the way to creating a brand new THPS 6 experience with the great framework that they have built here. 

Welcome back to The 9 Club, Tony. We missed you.


This Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 review was based on the PS4 and PC versions of the game provided by Activision Blizzard.

CEO

Asif Khan is the CEO and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Tendobox.com. Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

Pros
  • Classic gameplay with modern refinements
  • Outstanding graphics and performance
  • Amazing and timeless soundtrack
  • Create-A-Skater is still fun
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • Tons of replay value
Cons
  • Online Multiplayer is lacking features
  • New gameplay mechanics don't always translate well to older levels
  • Audio design choices bring some noise to the mix
From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 9, 2020 6:09 PM

    Asif Khan posted a new article, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 review: Welcome back to The 9 Club, bro

    • reply
      September 9, 2020 7:59 PM

      Yeah I need to buy this. Great write-up!

    • reply
      September 10, 2020 1:16 AM

      I've put about 10 hours into it so far and I'm loving it. Fantastic update of a classic.

    • reply
      September 10, 2020 1:17 AM

      This game scratches a serious nostalgia itch. I ended up turning off the music and using a Spotify playlist,
      https://open.spotify.com/playlist/205IusVHEgJE8LREEr0woC

    • reply
      September 10, 2020 4:19 AM

      Game is seriously great if you’re a fan of the original. I’ve always sucked at THPS games, but loved them anyway, and this package does a great job of refreshing the look of the game while keeping the gameplay intact.

      • reply
        September 10, 2020 5:31 AM

        Yeah I love that it retcons mechanics into the game that weren't even in 1 & 2 like reverts. I probably played THPS3 more than any of the other ones and playing this was like riding that bike again, although I am kind of disappointed that there aren't any THPS3 levels in the game... like I would have preferred the game being THPS 2+3 rather than 1+2 but I'm guessing based off the success of this game they'll release a 3+4 eventually or something.

        • reply
          September 10, 2020 7:00 AM

          Yeah I'm hoping there's a 3+4 too. It'd make for a good time.

          I really gotta learn how not to suck at this game though. I know what I'm supposed to do, but I'm a klutz. :(

        • reply
          September 10, 2020 7:18 AM

          Would you want a separate 3+4 release or dlc add-ons / expansions for this one?

          The mechanics are already in there and the pricing is already such that $20 for a pack with each game would be reasonable. I think it would be great if they continue to fill this one out with as much THPS as they can, but a wholly separate release would probably sell more.

          Maybe they could do both, and with 3+4 offer the THPS 1+2 content as optional add-ons for those that skipped it. Win-win. Where are my royalties, Activision?

    • reply
      September 10, 2020 5:30 AM

      Woot. Was waiting for this review from the Asif man. It’s probably the best remake of all time imo. I picked it up, dusted off 18 years of rust and it was like riding a bike. It truly feels like the originals but with less floaty hang time. I finished everything now I’m just working on challenges and getting platinum in each level.

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