How quickly were you sold on the new Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 (opens in new tab) remasters? If you're anything like me, it's roughly between the first chord of the Dead Kennedys' 'Police Truck' and seeing the Birdman land on a half-pipe and revert out of it. It looks sick, is what I'm basically trying to tell you. If that two minute reveal trailer didn't transport you back to 1999, shredding across School, and (correctly) choosing Bob Burnquist as your skater, then you're either a) too young to remember or b) clicked on this article by mistake.
But let's be honest, the series needed to hit the reset button and by calling this a remaster rather than a remake, Activision and Vicarious Visions are setting their stall out that this isn't a fresh start for the series, but a reminder of what made it so great to begin with. That isn't necessarily a bad thing considering the recent history of the Tony Hawk's games.
The Birdman flies again
Like The Simpsons, Tony Hawk's turning point in quality is up for debate, but we can all broadly agree the series' took a sharp nosedive around the time the plastic skateboard peripherals were introduced in 2009's Tony Hawk's Ride (opens in new tab). What followed was years of failed attempts to recapture former glories, first with the bang-average Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD (opens in new tab), which never quite managed to capture the fluid feel of the originals, and then with the dumpster fire that is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 (opens in new tab), which seemed to actively go out of its way to destroy any fond memories you may have still harboured.
Both those games made a simple error in hindsight. Instead of building on Neversoft's work, they tried to remake it. In Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD, it was noticeable because it felt like an awkward mix of nostalgia and soft reboot, as your moveset and the levels were from one era, but the way you moved felt from another. It ended up being neither a faithful remaster or worthy remake, just a decent stab at nostalgia that needed some fine-tuning.
Then Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 came along. A game infamous for being buggier than a nature reserve at launch, as well as introducing mechanics that actively made the skateboarding worse. Look, let's just sum that chapter of the series as extremely misguided. It's unsurprising that Vicarious Visions are looking to remaster rather than remake, considering the recent past has shown the pitfalls that come with that.
900 reasons to remaster
During the game's reveal, Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal spoke about the process of remastering the original games for this new collection. She said: "We started with the Neversoft engine, looking at the Neversoft code base for the handling, brought that over. We also looked at the level layouts and brought over the geometry as a starting point. And then you upgrade everything from there." Considering the work they did with the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, which managed to recapture the feel of the original Crash games but make them look as if they belong on current consoles, we already know the studio has the pedigree to give those original games the scrubbing up they deserve.
More importantly, we also know that Vicarious Visions know how to recreate the feel of these games without being too devoted to the past. While Crash didn't tinker too much with the formula, it did offer quality of life improvements, such as auto-saving and dynamic difficulty adjustment to the original Crash. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 & 2 looks to take a similar approach.
For instance, this package is adding in the revert, a move that was introduced in THPS 3 but was vital to the game's flow, as well as some of the massive scores you could rack up. The thought of being able to play these levels in ways we never have before instantly makes this remaster more appealing. There'll also be online multiplayer, which wasn't in the originals because it was the '90s, but allows us to recreate those endless nights trying to topple scores with mates, as well as a Create-A-Park as well. By adding some of the best additions that came later on in the series to this bundle, it will hopefully create the ideal nostalgia hit of reliving how the game felt in our mind's eye, without the pain of seeing how certain parts of the game might have aged.
It's easy to roll our eyes at the thought of another remaster, but in the case of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, it makes sense to head back to the past. As the series kept adding more superfluous elements, to the extent that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 happened, it lost what made it special. The thrill of discovery -- whether that was a line, a trick, or a song -- mixed with the soothing arcade groove of it's skateboarding. By heading back to the start and cutting away the noise of it's recent past, this can hopefully give the series a new focus, and one that can then be built on for the future.