Make Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Again

I know I’ve already said that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is the thing that got me into skateboarding, but… Did you know Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 got me into skateboarding? It is a game that means so much to me, and formed my early impression of skating. Despite Skate 3 being one of my favourite games, and EA repeatedly refusing to make a sequel to it, I will always have time for more THPS2 – which is why I am super stoked they are releasing a remaster of THPS1 and 2!

For those who don’t play games, let me get you up to speed. Last week, Tony Hawk announced that Activision were releasing a remaster of the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games. Activision are the publisher responsible for the THPS franchise, and have recently been on a spree of remaking their beloved PlayStation1 era classics such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon. These remakes are lovingly crafted, using the original game’s code to retain the same “game feel” as the PS1 version, whilst updating all of the visuals to modern standards. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, at the time, was called “THE game” by skateboarders who were into games: It was considered the only game out there to finally understand and represent skateboarding in a way that was remotely authentic. THPS gets a lot of shit for exaggerated antics like grinding power lines or spine transferring literal buildings, but those first games struck a perfect balance between what made both skateboarding and video games fun.

The updated version of THPS 1 & 2 aims to capture the essence of that original game, although with a 2020 makeover. Rather than using the 1999 era versions of professional skaters, they’ve brought them back into the mocap studio to capture what they look like now, with their current sponsors (so Tony Hawk will be wearing Vans). It’s a game made through the lense of modern skateboarding, for modern skateboarders, which is what THPS did in 1999. You could make the case that THPS5 did this too, but… I don’t know who that game was made for, because it definitely wasn’t made for skateboarders.

A game like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is the kind of thing you wouldn’t expect out of Activision in 2020. What I mean by that is it isn’t Call Of Duty. It’s a daft high-score-chasing game where you do special moves and unlock Police Officers as secret characters. It’s a game which had Dead Kennedys on the soundtrack. It introduced non-skaters to Chad Muska. It’s a game about a niche pseudo sport that prides itself on not selling out, or giving a shit what other people think. The fact Activision are releasing a remastered version of THPS 1 and 2 is testament to how important it is to video game history, and how important skateboarding is to gamers, regardless of whether they actually skate or not. 

The original brought people to skateboarding, and communicated just how fun and awesome it was. I would watch videos of people skating when I was really little, and at first I didn’t really understand skateboarding. I thought it was fun to cruise about and I would copy my brother as he tic-tacked around the garden, but other than that I didn’t really go any further with it for a while. Playing THPS was a lightbulb moment: I finally got skateboarding. THPS made me feel the energy and adrenaline of landing something you’ve worked so hard for. I wanted to get out there and skate in real life after playing that game. For anyone out there who couldn’t physically skate, it gave them an entry point to be involved and included in our community. It widened the appeal of skateboarding for so many people who never considered trying to skate.

There are skateboarders who just don’t “get” games, and that’s fine. They don’t understand why you would want to play a game about skating, when you could just go out and skate in real life. Games like THPS are important for the same reason skate videos are. It’s the same reason we eye up spots even when we don’t have a board. It’s the same reason I post this dumb shit on my blog all of the time. It’s because we’re skateboarders, and it infects everything in our lives. It’s a drug we can’t quit. For skateboarders, a game like THPS is important. It’s a way for gamers to connect to skateboarding, and for anyone who skates and plays games, it’s a way for us to merge two things we enjoy when we can’t get out for a shred. It puts a smile on your face, reminds you why you skate, and makes you look forward to the next time you can skate for real even more.

I can’t fucking wait to play this game again.

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