Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is surprisingly solid on the Switch
We’ve been in the life of the Nintendo Switch for over four years, and yet in some ways the handheld device remains an enigma. Note: when there is a port of a big game, you never really know what to expect. Sometimes you get a welcome surprise like Eternal destiny, other times a mess like Apex Legends. That’s why I was only cautiously excited about Tony Hawk Professional Skater 1 + 2 – an excellent but goofy remaster of the first two games in the series – making its way to the Switch. It is a game where movement and fluidity are essential; if frame rate issues are getting in the way of a good run, it’s not really worth playing.
Fortunately, from what I played, THPS is a surprisingly strong port. It’s not the ideal way to play, but it really works.
First of all, the obvious: the game doesn’t look great. This is especially true if you roll out the recent next-gen updates for the game, which have made an already excellent skating title even better. On Switch, meanwhile, the game looks flat and simple, especially when it comes to textures, which can be blurry or confusing. On next-gen consoles, skaters appear incredibly close to their real-world counterparts; on Switch, they look more like PS3 characters. He doesn’t look bad, necessarily, but definitely dated.
This is actually good news. If the developers had focused on the visuals, performance would almost certainly suffer. It’s a compromise that needs to be made with these ports, and the team at developer Vicarious Visions made the right choice. I would much prefer a bland appearance THPS game that plays well than the other way around. And that’s exactly what the Switch version is. During the few hours I spent with it, I didn’t experience any significant slowdown or drop in frame rate. Obviously it’s not a technical showcase – it runs at 30fps – but I was shocked at how well the game performed.
As always, the value of this compromise really depends on your personal preferences. Technical centerpieces are great, but being able to play something as smooth as THPS where you want. (The franchise actually has a checkered history on wearable devices, with a handful of excellent isometrics THPS titles on Game Boy Advance that are now lost in time.) Combine Switch portability with the brilliant THPS soundtrack and a good pair of headphones, and you have a very zen experience. This is exactly what you need to achieve some of those high scores. Really, the only thing that interrupted my flow was the drifting Joy-Con controllers, which I can’t blame on the game.
It’s safe to put THPS in the “good” column of the Switch ports. Visually, it’s a noticeable downgrade, but that’s to be expected. If you want the most technically capable version of this remaster, you definitely won’t find it here. But that’s okay – the whole point is being able to play a sleek, modern take on these games on the go. And in this, at least, the Switch version of THPS delivered.
Tony Hawk Professional Skater 1 + 2 launches on Switch on June 25.