It’s wild to think that long before there was a new Call of Duty game every year, Activision’s big annual franchise was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It’s a series in which you only have to worry about tying off each ludicrously long combo before you bail and lose hundreds of thousands of points. With the sounds of bands like Goldfinger and Rage Against the Machine burned into your head, you scour each dense park in search of S-K-A-T-E and that elusive secret tape. And as soon as you finally find them, it’s time to restart the two-minute timer and jump back in for one last go–which you already told yourself was three sessions prior. The stimulating trick system keeps you clawing for larger numbers, while the cleverly crafted levels lead you to new gaps, lines, and secrets to add to your combo’s path. It’s a special series that is infinitely playable, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 captures that nearly perfectly.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 revamps the levels and skaters of the first two games, though it borrows many aspects from later titles as well. While the trick system’s foundation stuck through the entire series’ history, various trick types were added with each new release. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 features many of the best ones, including reverts and spine transfers, and thankfully, it doesn’t stray further than Underground’s wallplants and grind/manual transitions. This makes 1 + 2’s trick system feel complete, neglecting the less crucial mechanics–like Freak Out from Underground 2–and focusing on the best aspects of the series’ tricks. One very nice touch, however, lets you switch between the revamped trick system and the first and second game’s trick systems, offering a more authentic experience akin to the originals.
No matter which trick system you go with, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 plays fantastically. While you still control it the exact same way you would the originals, it feels a lot less stiff. Tricks are as exciting to pull off as they’ve ever been, but the speed of the game moves faster and the skaters’ animations are a lot more fluid. Transitioning from grab tricks and spins into a string of manuals and then finishing with a set of grind transitions feels incredible–it evokes the series’ early days of nailing unrealistic and goofy combos, while also remaining engaging and exciting when you’re checking off goals in 2020.