Review: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 for Nintendo Switch
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 has finally arrived on Nintendo Switch, which I had been hoping to happen since the game was announced. Growing up in the 90s, whenever I was outdoors I usually had a skateboard in tow, and whenever I was inside I was parked in front of the TV, playing video games. The intersection of these two interests appeared in 1999 with the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and its sequels, which I and apparently many others loved, with early entries becoming critical darlings and remaining fan favorites to this day. .
20 years later, Vicarious Visions captures the nostalgia of skaters and gamers around the world with a loving recreation of the first two games in the series, with some modern tweaks.
The arcade-style gameplay of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is fairly straightforward to understand but difficult to master. You are placed in a level, or “park”, and you have a time limit to achieve the various objectives that are set for you, which vary according to the stages. All stages share a set of challenges such as hitting the five letters of the word SKATE located throughout the course, collecting five stage-themed collectibles, getting that many points in a combo, and more. but there are also unique challenges, usually involving doing a specific trick on a certain gap or on a specific rail. These challenges get more and more difficult as the game progresses and the difficulty ramp is very smooth, although some of the later challenges require you to hone certain tricks or maneuvers over multiple races in order to accomplish them.
Fortunately, enough of the control scheme is intact from the original games that muscle memory should kick in for series veterans after a few races. The default control scheme provides access to some later series tricks and maneuvers that weren’t possible in the original games, but you can also enable the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater control schemes. 2 if you I feel like I’m having a more traditional experience. The physics of the originals are recreated to perfection here, so things like balancing a manual or a grind are exactly the same as 20 years ago.
For those who are probably a little rusty or brand new to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, there is a great tutorial guided by the Birdman himself that walks you through all the basics and several advanced moves, and gives you free rein to practice each of the skills and move on when you’re ready. There are also several tweaks you can apply to make the game a bit more accessible, such as no lease, perfect grinds, and more.
Looks gnarly, but shreds very well
As is the case with any game that is ported to Switch after its release on other consoles, sacrifices must be made. Most of the time, these sacrifices come about when a developer has to decide whether to make the game look its best or make it perform at its best. In the case of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, the choice to run the game continuously at 30fps smoothly was made, which made the textures and other visuals look a bit rough and muddy.
It’s not as enjoyable to watch on Switch as it is on other consoles, but to me that choice was a no-brainer, as a fast-paced game that relies on combos and precise reactions simply wouldn’t match. not with any amount of stuttering. As a result of this choice, THPS 1 + 2 gameplay works like a dream on Switch, and I didn’t experience any stuttering or issues during my time with the game last week. I want to stress again that things seem a bit difficult to compensate – skaters mostly seem to come out of a PS3 game rather than something from this generation of consoles.
I also want to mention that while the charging times aren’t terribly painful, they’re slightly long when the Switch is docked, and noticeably longer when it’s undocked. My last Switch-specific nitpick also has to do with a mostly portable option; Joy-Cons aren’t exactly the best tool for performing precise tricks. Even without the dreaded stick drift, I couldn’t find the right angles for the control sticks to hit the tips I wanted when specific challenges called for them. When using a handheld, you don’t really have a choice other than third-party accessories, but if you play on a docking station and have a Pro controller, use it.
Old and new school
It’s hard to talk about a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game without mentioning the soundtrack, and fans of the original two games shouldn’t be disappointed with what’s going on behind the remake. Of course, nearly every fan favorite is back, including Goldfinger’s Superman, although not everything has been accepted, with three songs missing due to rights issues. I really appreciate the effort of bringing back as much of the soundtrack as possible, as a lot of my musical tastes today have been influenced by the different soundtracks in this series. There are also 37 additional new tracks to the series, all of which fit fairly well into the existing soundtrack, although I could have done without Machine Gun Kelly’s attempt to emulate Blink-182.
I love the soundtrack of this game, although I can say that after a few hours of continuous play there will be some songs that will get you on your nerves. Fortunately, it’s easy to access the sound options and remove those songs from the playlist in order to create the exact mood you want to skate with.
Speaking of things coming back from the original games enhanced with new additions, the selection of professional skaters to play has also improved. All of the skaters from the original games are back, although they are current themselves, rather than what they looked like in 1999. There are also several new skaters, with eight current pros completing the base roster. I appreciate the special attention that was given to diversity when putting together this roster, with the inclusion of four times as many female skaters as the original game, the non-binary Leo Baker, and skaters of all ethnicities and different sexual orientations. Skateboarding is an inclusive community, and I loved seeing that reflected in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game without weird characters to unlock as well, with three original characters in total to skate in addition to the base roster: The Jack Black played by Officer Dick and a straight alien. out of Roswell are both unlockable skaters, while the Powell-Peralta skate company mascot The Ripper is a character exclusive to the digital deluxe version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. Unfortunately, Spider-Man was unable to make an appearance this time around, due to licensing issues.
When it comes to remakes, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 absolutely hits the mark with what he was trying to accomplish. The controls are tight and a big evolution from games of the past, and it plays incredibly well thanks to a few visual sacrifices made. Sure, it’ll look better on other consoles, but the Switch is the only console you can actually bring to the skatepark with you. The soundtrack still rings out, even with the new additions, and the list’s attention to inclusivity with its additions is a welcome change.
Overall, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a huge step forward for the franchise, but only time will tell if it gets anywhere from here, thanks to the Activision-Blizzard merger of Vicarious Visions in Blizzard. At the very least, we’ve got that sharp dose of nostalgia to keep us busy trying to pull off those combos.