It’s been out for a couple of weeks but while stuck in Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown I found so much comfort in playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2. It’s that ideal combination of reassuringly familiar and committed that is enough to stop worrying about the current situation and just immerse myself in the freedom of skating.
What is so magical about the game is that it looks and feels exactly the way I remember it as a kid. I keep playing the Marseille level long after my parents thought I went to sleep. That means, of course, that it looks and feels about ten times better than on the gateway pc I got for my 12th Birthday. Nostalgia is like this ̵
Of course I’m not nearly as good as I used to be. 12-year-olds have significantly better reflexes and skills than we 30-year-olds. Hopefully I’m just out of practice and the ease of combos will come back soon. Or maybe like the graphics and gameplay, I am an unreliable witness to my own abilities. (But let’s still blame age.)
What’s more impressive is that there are lots of updates and tweaks to make it feel fresh and nostalgic (which is a special kind of wizardry on its own). It is fair to see the mall’s level leave from lush and well-filled in the early 2000s and decline in 2020. It just looks cooler too.
Other welcome changes are the greater variety of playable skaters included. Elise Steamer was always cool in the original games, but adding Lizzie Armanto, Leticia Bufoni, and Aori Nishimura to the list gives kids more skating heroes to look up to. And the inclusion of Leo Baker, a non-binary skater with incredible skill, is enormous as there are no binary reps in any of the games, let alone sports titles.
The big problem, of course, is that the longer I play, the more I think I can actually skateboard. The same thing happened in 2001; I saved up all of my pocket money to buy a skateboard and then found that I lived on a particularly steep mountain and had no easy access to flat pavement. The kid-size skateboard is probably hidden somewhere in my parents’ house, still in mint condition.
Now that I actually have access to a place to study, I have the curse of actually feeling pain that happens around 25. As a teenager, I could safely plug my dislocated shoulder back in and start my day, whereas now I have to sit down for a minute after you poke my toe. Perhaps it is best that none of the stores that could sell me a skateboard are open in Melbourne.
For those of you who have played Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2how does it live up to your memories? Or if you didn’t play it as a kid, what do you think of a clean blackboard?