Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is Back and It’s Spectacular

En Fuego Review: The beloved franchise returns with Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2, and it’s time to weigh and measure the game with a review.
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Dropping from the top of a roof into a halfpipe while you Madonna and landing into a revert only to pull off a manual before grinding the railing in a schoolyard is like riding a bike.

And as soon as you hear Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerrilla Radio” blaring from the title screen, it’s clear that this is going to be one enjoyable ride.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 comes out on Friday, Sept. 4. So, stock up refreshments accordingly. Because you are going to be thrust once again into a world where the only thing that matters is unlocking all of the locations, boards and skaters. It’s kind of glorious.

Initial Thoughts

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The one thing I want to get across from this review is that overall, and I am still in the initial throes of the game, THPS 1 + 2 is fun.

I know, that sounds about as exciting as an 8 a.m. Zoom call, but there is a levity here that is missing from the video game landscape. Hell, it’s missing from life in general.

Not only will you remember the controls and songs and skaters, but the frustration that builds from not sticking a landing will come back in waves.

This is a remastered version of the original titles, which shouldn’t deter you from coming to this game with the excitement of a brand-new series.

In many ways, the game feels new with improved graphics and the ability to pull off tricks like manuals and reverts, which didn’t surface until the franchise’s sequel. But it’s the nostalgia that gets you.

There’s a certain amount of joy packed into skating around this sandbox of wonder that has been missing from 2020.

Rip open a bag of Funyuns. Get whatever flavored water drink you are rocking nowadays and prepare to lose sleep while you try to again master this game.

Controls

There is a dedication and fidelity to the franchise here that you get right from the start. As soon as you drop in from the top of the Warehouse stage you are thrust back into the same controls and feel of that game you picked up at the turn of the century.

The music, skaters and locations may have gotten you to THPS, but the controls are exactly what kept you there, spending way more time than you should be attempting to perfect a combo.

Manuals, grinds and aerial tricks all feel like you remember them, although there's an added fluidity with improved graphics.

Now it might be my fingers, which are now 20 years older and plumper, but the game feels more demanding, in a good way. Breezing through the game isn’t an option. And even if you do, its replay value is obvious from the start.

There is something so relaxing about finally pulling off a combo that you have been working on for far longer than you care to admit.

Visuals

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The game is gorgeous.

I hadn’t picked up THPS or THPS 2 in years and in my mind remembered them as visually stunning as well. But like your prom pictures, nothing ages as well as you thought.

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THPS 1 + 2 present exactly what you thought the game looked like when you were younger, only now the game actually has that remarkable detail.

The Venice level recreates the famed Pit in stunning detail, offering a park festooned in vibrant graffiti. The locations become something of a playable character themselves.

Create-A

One of the most immersive games is again, well, immersive. There is a certain glee I get with creating my skater. 

Picking out trucks and wheels puts a smile on my face so big that I have to look like an idiot to anyone passing by. But, hey, we’re in a pandemic so the only people passing by are family.

Yes, you get to sift through a nice initial complement of wardrobe and faces, A little more customization would be nice, but you can of course unlock more as the game progresses.

But the Create-a-Park is where some of you skatepark engineer nerds will shine.

You can jump into some preloaded samples, but the real time suck is dropping into the park builder and not realizing how quickly the night can get away from you as you try to perfect your structure with a generous array of customizable options.

Gameplay

I like to call this the person who never played curve. I gave my wife the controller to see what she thought as she had previously logged all of a combined ten minutes throughout the franchise.

Much like I am in Smash Brothers, she is a button masher. But this is a game that allows for button mashing but also rewards the players who take time to perfect the maneuvers.

She loved it. And, I quote, "That was fun." I know. That kind of review should come stamped on every THPS cover. 

Now if we're whittling down the gameplay it's, well, it’s Tony Hawk. Not much has changed here and that’s the best part. You can play any location in free skate from the start, but you will find yourself wanting to earn each destination.

And while it lacks the story element of past titles like Tony Hawk’s Underground, you don’t miss it all that much. You are much too busy trying to re-perfect your go-to moves.

Final Thoughts and Grade

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A remastered version of anything can so easily feel rehashed and outdated. It’s actually quite the trick to pull off something that feels so comfortable in your hands.

And I mean that in a great way. Playing this game is effortless for those who are veterans to the franchise and a joy if you’ve never picked it up prior to this week.

While I love my first-person shooters and action games, there is something so overwhelmingly positive and uplifting about this specific title in this specific year.

It doesn’t happen often. But sometimes you can go back a couple of decades and relive the glee you had when you first discovered this series. 

I think I struggled writing this review specifically because I’ve played this game before. It’s kind of like telling someone how awesome the first week of college was when you’ve told them the same story over and over. It kind of loses its luster.

Unless, of course, you can go back in time and relive a modicum of the past anew. And at its heart, this game is a time machine. Forget flux capacitors or wonky hot tubs, this video game actually transports you back in time.

And you feel like you are unpacking the game for the first time again.

En Fuego Grade: A

En Fuego Happiness Score: Devouring a couple of tacos off the truck when you leave the bar.