One of my favorite cards in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2nd is Venice Beach.
When I was a kid, I ran around the prettiest parts of the map near the sand, hopped on a low wall and dragged over it, pinned the landing, and zoomed out to go up a half pipe. Lots of waves, seagulls and Papa Roach played in the background.
The publication of the original Pro skater Games brought skateboarding to a wider audience, and I was that wider audience. I could never skate in the real world because I’m a Klutz, but at least I could get a feel for how great it was when I landed cool tricks in Tony Hawk’s digital world. Every time I saw a kid skating in a parking lot, I immediately thought of him.
Released for the first generation PlayStation in 1999 and 2000, these games have not aged well. As with other games from the period, the blocky, flat-hued environment of the original Venice level lacks real detail or realism – so I didn’t think about it much.
Developer Vicarious Visions and publisher Activision have just released a revised version that both compresses Pro skater 1 and 2 into a single game with modern graphics brought up to date for today’s gamers.
My old favorite Venice is laid out the same, but everything looks completely new and shinier. If you walk up to a high area, the palm trees stretch as far as the eye can see and lead to a huge mountain on the horizon. It’s the same game but much better, and it makes exploring the map more rewarding.
For me, the magic of the game is the multiplayer mode that lets you compete against friends in competitions to see who can land the most complex tricks. But my absolute favorite thing to do with friends is to play around in Free Skate mode, where you can explore the maps and practice with no time limit.
When I was a kid I would sit next to my boyfriend in his living room for hours and play free skate mode, listen to the amazing soundtrack and show off cool jumps, spins and secret spots on the map. It takes some practice to be good, just like it does in real life, and that makes it even more satisfying when you finally land a complicated trick after dozens of tries.
Playing multiplayer with my friend who went absolutely insane when one of us landed a complex combination of tens of thousands of points sent me back to those childhood afternoons.
If you’ve played the original games many times, the remake will make you feel right at home. The controls are slightly different as new mechanics have been added from later titles, but if you haven’t touched a Pro skater You can still play the game since 2000. It took me a while to get used to the game again, but my friend picked up the controller and got a high score on his first try, as if no time had passed from his fame years ago.
What hasn’t changed are the settings. You still walk through places like New York City and Malibu and empty warehouses and malls. You unlock new maps by completing different objectives – in the originals, players collected things like ribbons, floating hydrants, and the letters “SKATE” – those things stay the same.
Music was a big part of Pro skater for me. It was here that I first heard of many bands that I like today: Papa Roach, Rage Against the Machine and Dead Kennedys. Songs from the original soundtrack are still there, but now alongside 37 new tracks that completely fit the game, from artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, Sublime and Billy Talent.
The developers applied the same philosophy to lineup of playable professional skaters, keeping the originals and adding a diverse group of today’s professionals, including Leo Baker, Nyjah Huston, Tyshawn Jones, Aori Nishimura and Shane O’Neill.
And there is a welcome addition in the form of challenges. Money is not lying around on the map like in the originals, but you have to achieve a certain goal by exchanging the game currency, which you can spend on cosmetics and clothes for your character. You can also build your own skate parks and share them with other players over the internet. This was introduced in 2015 Per skater 5 – I am very happy that artistically thinking players use this function and work with it.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2 creates an amazing balance between old and new content. This isn’t just an HD clone of a beloved old game – I feel like I’m playing the same game from my childhood, with all the warm fuzzies of nostalgia and All the best for the later games. I don’t think the old games ever completely lost their magic, but the remake really makes them shine.
Kaity Kline is a columnist for NPRs Take part in the game and a producer on 1A. Originally from New Jersey, she is a lifelong gamer and former gaming YouTuber. She tweets on @kaitykline