In the heyday of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, there were few extreme sports games like it, and that remains true in a good way today. Vicarious Visions’ remake of Neversoft’s original two games is a triumphant return to form for the series, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 plays wonderfully on Nintendo Switch in review. The core skateboarding and tricking mechanics have been faithfully remade and modernized by bringing together elements from across the series. As a result, pulling off tricks like the 900 feels as familiar as riding an old bike. A comprehensive selection of skaters, maps, music, and secrets does a fantastic job at nailing the identity of the franchise, while meaningful customization and modes provide extra depth to the package. Vicarious Visions has a clear love of the series, and despite some technical stumbles, that shines through on Switch.
A skater’s dream
Gameplay remains tight and responsive in this remake. Moving forward is automatic, while familiar moves such as jumps, grinds, flips, and holds are now tied to the face buttons. Series veterans can choose between the original and new control schemes, but the controls are intuitive in either setup and the inputs for every trick can be customized too. Additions to the core move set like the manual from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, the revert from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, and even the wall plant from Tony Hawk’s Underground all demonstrate Vicarious Visions’ impressive commitment to modernizing the mechanics for both new and returning players.
After choosing from the returning roster of pro skaters or creating your own, you’ll earn points and build a special meter by smoothly flowing together varied combos involving grinds, manuals, kickflips, and so on. That meter allows you to use special tricks that are worth big points but are riskier to pull off thanks to their length. In moment-to-moment gameplay, players are encouraged to balance safe and risky tricks to earn the best results, especially since it wastes precious seconds to get back on your board after a bail.
To progress through maps from either game you’ll need to achieve set amounts of park goals or medals from score-based competitions. Park goals include earning high scores, finding collectibles like the SKATE letters, and more. As the maps increase in complexity, the park goals become challenging but fun platforming puzzles. Short time limits ensure that you’ll need multiple runs to complete a map, but the varied objectives and fun secrets keep this from feeling repetitive.
Trick to your heart’s content
Beyond being a faithful remake of the skating formula on Nintendo Switch, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 goes the extra mile to keep players coming back. Every mode earns you money that can be spent on customization options. All skaters have their own boards and outfits to unlock, and your created skater can be fully kitted out to boot. From shoes and tattoos, right down to the wheels and base of your board, there’s a great amount to make your own. Experience points from naturally playing or completing challenges levels up your profile and grants skill points that can be used to upgrade stats such as speed and “hangtime.” These RPG elements add further nuances to dig into, but I found myself wishing they were tied to my profile, rather than having to upgrade stats for every individual skater.
When you’ve had your fill of going through either game’s maps, you can take your skills online. Matchmaking, private, and local multiplayer options are all available, across a decent variety of modes. In Graffiti, the player that tags the most objects in their color wins, while Combo Mambo grants victory to the player with the largest single combo score. I didn’t experience any noticeable lag online, but load times could be inconsistent, and I wish the game had a few more unique modes to round out the offering.
For those that are more creative than competitive, the Create a Park mode returns. Using premade structures and objects that can be unlocked with in-game currency, players can create any skating space they imagine. A clever range of tools makes this a breeze. Individual pieces snap together like magnets, shortcuts to undo and copy speed up the process, and smart pieces can have their shapes morphed on the fly to fit your needs.
Aged like fine wine
Many games suffer in the transition to Nintendo Switch, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 succeeds for the most part. A rock-solid 30 FPS is a fair price to pay for Switch portability. The lighting still does a great job at bringing all the colorful classic maps to life, and load times are surprisingly decent. Occasionally lengthy load times can occur when entering a map, but thankfully, restarting a run takes seconds. Blurry and low-resolution character models in menus are easily the weakest technical aspect of the game, but even this isn’t as much of an issue once you’re skating away.
Miraculously, the team at Vicarious Visions managed to pull together the original soundtrack as well as new songs for this remake. Having tracks like “Superman” or “Police Truck” to rail-grind alongside is wonderfully nostalgic. Players can even skip tracks at any time and filter the songs they want to hear in their rotation. Ample love and attention were given to preserving and updating the look and sounds of the original games, and that remains present on Nintendo Switch.
Tony Hawk is back, in Switch form
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a loving recreation of the cult classic skateboarding games, while also being an impressive iteration on where the series could go next. On Nintendo Switch, Tony Hawk maintains its best features, including a fantastic variety of well-designed maps, cleverly modernized skating gameplay, endless customization, and a rocking soundtrack. Lower-resolution character models and a lower, albeit stable, frame rate are meager speed bumps on the road to experiencing one of the best remakes of recent times. Tony Hawk is emphatically back, and I hope it’s not the last we see of this series anytime soon.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 was provided by the publisher.