Tony Hawk is back and that means I can officially destroy my physical copy of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5! I paid 5 dollars for a brand-new copy of the game a week after release at EB Games and felt robbed. Honestly, the only reason why I held on to it so long, despite being absolutely terrible, was I would crave playing Tony Hawk from time to time. I’ve been playing Tony Hawk since it came out in 1999 and it holds a very special place in my heart. There isn’t a Tony Hawk game I haven’t played to death and I wanted nothing more than this remastered collection to recapture the magic from 20 years ago. After hours of game time I can say, developer Vicarious Visions has created a phenomenal remaster. Sure, you still have to listen to ska music (all ska is bad and that’s a hill I’ll die on, call me a “loser” all you want”) and Downhill Jam is still a goofy level but otherwise this is the perfect Tony Hawk experience for both newcomers and us crusty skater punks.
Playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 +2 takes me straight back to my rebellious youth. I spent hours in my two best friend’s basements playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, eating Doritos talking about girls and drinking Mountain Dew for hours on end. We were young, dumb and having a ton of fun. We all wanted to be skateboarders but none of us could skate worth shit. To this day I’ve probably put in my ten thousand hours skateboarding and can barely kickflip let alone string together an epic combo. But Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater made me feel invincible. I was good, real good. Where I really excelled was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 when they added in reverts, manual tricks, spine transfers and my girlfriend’s favorite, the wall plant. Thankfully Pro Skater 1 + 2 has added these fan favorites options making the levels feel brand new all over again. These few new tricks add so much new depth and opportunity to these classic levels without making them too easy or allowing for you to cheat the system.
Minutes upon my first playthrough I was racking up 300,000+ scores in under 2 minutes. Playing Tony Hawk is like riding a bike. I remember every trick I ever learned 20 years ago and my hand eye coordination is still intact. I feel unstoppable when I play. My girlfriend was sitting beside me almost in shock asking me how I knew how to do any of it. I might not be able to play a piano anymore but I sure can dominate in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
The classic soundtrack is back so you can scream along to Bad Religion, Rage Against The Machine and Dead Kennedys all over again. They’ve also added 37 new songs including some questionable choices, Sublime, Reel Big Fish (More ska, gross!) and some great choices, The Ataris, Skepta, and A Tribe Called Quest. There’s also some great Toronto bands including my friends Pkew Pkew Pkew, Billy Talent and PUP. Getting these licenses couldn’t have been easy but it makes the experience that much better.
Also new to the original games is both the Create-A-Skater mode and Create-A-Park mode. Create-A-Park has some great features and I’m excited to see what the community builds in it. Unfortunately, I don’t have much patience to be designing my own level when I can just shred someone else’s killer creation. Create-A-Skater on the other hand is something of a let down. It’s incredibly bland for a game made in 2020 and you’re going to be forced to use one of a handful of generic faces. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make my custom skater as handsome as me and opted for a regular joe with blue hair. Thankfully there are a ton of skaters to choose from including a number of brand new ones. The rosters does a much better job representing the world of skateboarding and has included a diverse lineup of skaters from all walks of life. Two of my new favorites are Shane O’Neill, who does combos he saw in Tony Hawk Pro Skater growing up in real life and Nyjah Huston, one of the best skaters on the scene. Nyjah has won more prize many than any other skateboarder in history and is the highest paid skater in the world. He’s only 25 years old and is incredibly fun to use.
Acid Dropping back into the series reminded me also of the way the cops are presented and how we saw them as young skaters. Missions have you dunking on cops as they race after you or destroying their police cruisers. There’s even an unlockable character called “Officer Dick” who is your typical cop stereotype complete with beer belly, moustache and a no fun attitude. Tony Hawk had me yelling “ACAB” long before 202. Growing up in skateparks and hanging around skate shops taught me to take pride in being different and rebel against the status quo. The culture has always taught you that cops aren’t your friends. I’ve never seen a cop on a skateboard but I sure have seen a lot of them on rollerblades.
The game has very few disappointments. One of the only big disappointments that stand out is there doesn’t seem to be any new secrets to uncover. There’s a couple of hidden skaters and a hidden level but otherwise this is pretty much the same game we’ve played before. Here’s hoping we get some character or level packs as DLC in the near future, because I plan on playing this game till my hands blister.
Pro Skater 1 + 2 is easily one of my favorite games of the year. It’s probably the happiest I’ve been playing a game in a long time. There’s so much magic and joy in reliving my youth. I was barely a teen when these games came out but they influenced my lifestyle, my music choices, my disdain for authority and my love for skateboarding. With Mario 64 coming to Switch later this week, another favourite of mine, that will surely tug on my nostalgia strings, it won’t hold a candle to Tony Hawk. Nothing can. To me this is one of my favorite series of all time, even when it went ON the rails in Tony Hawk Ride. Now can we get Tony Hawk’s Pro Skate 3 + 4 and Underground stat? Happy skating friends!