When it comes to remastered games, they can be hit and miss cash grabs designed to get gamers to part with their hard-earned cash from their wallets by tapping into the part of your brain that longs for nostalgia.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is one of those iconic game series that thirty-somethings like myself played as kids. My friends and I used to stay up all night playing this on the Playstation. When I heard they were remastering this game for its 20th anniversary (jeez, when did I get so old) I knew it was an instant purchase.
The first thing that stands out is how modern the game feels. THPS 1 and 2 are old games by gaming standards, but it looks like it was made in 2020, albeit without some of the bells and whistles that companies put into their games which just waste your CPU and GPU (err hmm, Flight Simulator 2020).
Choosing, “Skate Tours” will take you to a screen where you can choose from THPS 1, THPS 2 or Ranked & Free Skate.
Naturally, if you’re long for nostalgia you’ll want to start off at the iconic warehouse level in THPS 1. If you played this game for as long as I did as a child, every memory of this place will come flooding back.
Unlike other remasters I have seen, things have been taken to the extreme in THPS 1 & THPS 2 remasters. They didn’t just take the old game and redraw some of the assets, it looks like they completely redesigned it and retained the original levels as well as 80-90% of the original soundtrack (with some new modern tracks from the likes of Billy Talent and Machine Gun Kelly) into it.
Fidelity wise, the developers have taken the essence of the original games, what made them fun and great and modernised them without making the game feel sterile or too modern. The layouts are almost identical to what they were in the original games, to the point where muscle memory kicks in. There are subtle differences, but nothing that is immediately obvious.
One of the coolest features of the remaster is the updates they’ve made to the characters in the game, they look like the characters they’re modelled on. All of the original skaters are there, except they’ve been remodelled and reflect their current age. The young Tony Hawk from the original games is now middle-aged to reflect his current age.
Instead of being a direct 1:1 remaster, they not only added new music into the game to compliment the iconic soundtrack of the originals (Superman by Goldfinger is a must-have that is in the remaster), but a bunch of new younger skaters have also been added into the game including non-binary skater Leo Baker. Of course, Tony Hawk’s son Riley Hawk is also in the game.
Not only is everything from the originals present, but reimagined for modern gaming, it feels just as accessible as it did all of those years ago. Even players who didn’t experience the originals will find the remaster somewhat easy to pickup, but hard to master.
Furthermore, they also added in a multiplayer mode which will pit you against other players and you can choose from competitive and jams mode which will change who you’re up against.
The multiplayer experience is seamless and fast. Once you find a game, you’re loaded straight in. Unlike original multiplayer modes, you can continue to skate while you wait for other players to finish after the timer hits zero and waiting for a new game mode to begin.
A multiplayer game without a constant lobby in 2020 is surprisingly refreshing. You can just keep on skating as the multiplayer modes cycle through on a playlist. I had a blast playing graffiti mode, although, I was focusing on writing this post and less on winning.
Games appear to be capped at eight players and as far as I could see, you cannot choose the game mode you want to play. The modes appear to be random, but admittedly, it does make it more fun not knowing what is coming up next.
After the disastrous release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 in 2015 which saw it get smashed by reviewers and gamers alike, the remaster is almost a redemption that makes up for the terrible game they released almost six years ago that saw no follow-up.
After seeing what they have achieved with this remaster, it makes me wonder if he’ll see any additional remasters for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 and the underground series THPS games as well? Given the remaster has seemingly received widespread praise from reviewers and gamers alike, it seems like a no-brainer.
This is arguably the best remaster I have ever seen and I say that as someone who was a huge fan of the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection released a few months ago. While 2020 has been a terrible year, it has been a great year for remastered games.