No, this isn’t a retro review: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a remake of the first two games in the beloved skateboarding game series that comes out on September 4. The series has taken twists and turns that have often led to, uh, not so great games, but after playing this simple, little demo for about four hours, this remake feels like a genuine return to form.
The demo consists of one level, the Warehouse from the original Tony Hawk game—one of those classic levels that almost everyone, even those who might’ve only played or seen the original games in passing, is aware of. And while the level in the remake looks more detailed than the original one did in 1999, it feels just the same, which is a very, very good thing. Yes, players can now manual and revert in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2—these moves did not come into play until the second and third games—but it is hard to imagine playing a Pro Skater game without those tricks at this point. It is also hard to imagine a Pro Skater game without the song “Superman” by Goldfinger, and this demo hits you over the head with that ska song again and again, as if to say, “This is the game you knew but it is a little newer!” Also Tony Hawk might just be a huge ska-head, I guess.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2’s Warehouse demo plays like a true Pro Skater game, unlike the 2012 remake did, and this just seems like a love letter to the series. It feels and looks and sounds like a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game should, and I fell back into my old combos and trick lines in no time. I was racking up new high scores for hours because, well, that is all that this demo offers. Hopping in the options menu lets you tweak some controller presets to remove manuals and what not to bring the game-feel back to an almost exact recreation of the original Pro Skater from 1999. Tony Hawk is the only playable skater, but the demo’s intro video outlines the entire roster for the full release, including many familiar faces from the original games. It really is just a basic, straightforward demo that I cannot stop playing.
My highest score in the demo, so far, is 825,000. I’m not even sure if that is really good or just okay, but it was such fun crafting lines and finding the rhythms of the level to get such a score in the first place. Skateboarding games have shifted and changed so much since these games first released, and while I am a sucker for the sim post-Skate skateboarding games, it does feel genuinely great to be playing a good-feeling Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game again.
Time capsules and nostalgia are slippery, dangerous things in this modern landscape. Companies continuously resell us our childhoods over and over again because, deep down, they know that there is a good chance that we’ll give in to the rose-tinted nostalgia of it all. And while I’m loath to admit it, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 has me firmly in its grasp. It feels so, so good and I cannot wait to get my hands on it in early September—that is, if the whole game feels as good as this demo. Only time will tell, of course. The Warehouse level is stripped of the usual objectives and goals of a Tony Hawk level for the purposes of the demo so I can’t tell how all of the usual fun objectives of this series will still feel and look fun. Furthermore, the online functionalities of the game are not in the demo, so I have no idea if the local and online multiplayer suite will be anything like the originals. Granted, they did not have online multiplayer but their local split-screen options were a blast, and translating them to our online gaming landscape could lead to something interesting.
With such a bare bones demo, it is almost as if they want players to know that they got the game to feel right at its most basic level, and give us hope that everything else will follow suit. Given the troubled history of the series past, say, 2004 or so, it’s important for the remake to establish trust like that—to let us know that this remake gets why those games were so popular 20 years ago, and understands how to recreate that feeling today. The demo is a good start, but we’ll have to wait until September 4 to find out if they really 900 this thing out of the park.
Cole Henry is a freelancer writer and an avid taco enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter @colehenry19