In September last year, CGM reviewer Brock McLaughlin called Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 “a phenomenal remaster” and “the perfect Tony Hawk experience;” in April, the PS5 upgrade earned even more praise from him. And now, I can say that the Switch version lives up to virtually everything that was good about the previous editions… mostly.
Look, this is a Switch port. That means Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 +2 isn’t going to look as pretty or run at as high a frame rate. Instead of 4K and 60 FPS, the Switch version brings a solid 30FPS and doesn’t look like it’s being powered by a potato like the PSone original. On beefier consoles, this remaster collection looks amazingly realistic, while the Nintendo port maintains the nigh-cartoonish character that the original games had. And honestly? I’m okay with that.
Like Mr. McLaughlin, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a formative element of my teenage years from its debut. My brother and I got the first for Christmas in 1999; I spent that New Year’s Eve honing my skills and wondering if Y2K was really going to destroy the world. Each new instalment, up until the series lost its way with Jackass-style antics, was a momentous occasion for us. I wasn’t coordinated enough to really learn to skate myself, but these simulations gave me a taste of that rush, and were just solid experiences in their own right.
Activision attempted a sort of “greatest hits” remaster in 2012 for PS3 and Xbox 360, and while it was a passable nostalgia trip, it felt lacking. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 does everything right, however. All the levels, pros, and goals from both games are back with later innovations like reverts. New skaters balance the roster in both style and representation, bringing its total to a whopping 23 characters (24 with the Deluxe Edition’s Ripper).
“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 does everything right,”
Likewise, the soundtrack is an excellent mix of old and new. My personal favourites—Millencolin’s “No Cigar,” The Ernies’ “Here & Now,” and of course, Goldfinger’s “Superman”—are back alongside a host of new songs that fit the in-game experience well.
Granted, this was all true of the previous releases—so what about the Switch version? While you’re trying to string together combos or nab objectives around the map you likely won’t notice any major graphical issues. When I stopped and really looked, I could spot a few subpar textures and such, even pop-in once. The main menu can struggle to load textures swiftly while browsing customization options, but while I was on a board I never noticed any issues that would affect gameplay. Loading into a level requires about a 20-30 second’s wait, but once there it only takes 4-5 seconds to restart a new run.
Handheld mode saw a little dip in graphical quality but gameplay remained untouched. While I prefer playing docked with a Pro Controller, I will definitely bust this out on-the-go for years to come. (Just don’t attempt it if your Joycon is drifting, trust me.)
Given that this is a faithful revival of two excellent games from one of my favourite series, I don’t need Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 in full 4K glory. The Switch’s graphical demotion is almost more fitting for me for its nostalgia factor, maintaining the feel of the originals without sacrificing what matters most—the gameplay.