Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding is back, better than ever

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Chris Schulz

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gaming video games

Get ready to ollie, grind and kick-flip your way through one of Playstation’s best sports games, which is finally getting the reboot treatment it deserves. 

Back in the summer of 2000, I had an ache in my thumbs that would never go away. No matter how many stretches I did, they throbbed relentlessly, day and night.

The reason? An all-consuming addiction to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, one of the most celebrated and popular sports games ever made.

Having finished studying for the year, I scraped together enough money for a Playstation console and spent all my time doing things on a digital skate deck that I could no way pull off in real life.

I kick-flipped over picnic tables, grinded my way across rooftops and pulled 720-degree spins on half-pipes, ruining my thumbs on the original Playstation’s unforgiving controllers in the process.

I’d forgotten all about that pain until this past weekend, when it returned with a vengance.

That’s because Activision has remastered the first two games in the Tony Hawk series, and they look spectacular.

Hand rails and half-pipes glint in the sunlight. Skater animations are fluid and clear. The game’s concrete jungles – schools, skate parks and warehouses just waiting to be torn to shreds – have been rendered like real life locations.

The original Tony Hawk games always looked good, but they’ve never looked this good. That one key trick means Activision’s remastered, rebooted version of the first two games in the Pro Skater series feels less like a museum piece, and more like a brand new game.

Returning to its roots is a great idea. Despite the multiple sequels that delivered diminishing returns, there’s something about the original games that manages to capture the very essence of skateboarding as a sport.

Maybe it’s the simplicity. Across two-minute runs, you need to complete simple tasks: collect the letters, ‘S’, ‘K’, ‘A’, ‘T’ and ‘E’, grind five table tops, or craft enough combos to land a top score. Tick off enough of these tasks, and you get to progress to the next location.

Didn’t manage to find all the hidden specials? Failed to land the perfect combo? Not to worry. There’s always another run coming.

Perhaps it’s the soundtrack that combines pop-rock classics from the original game with some nicely timed new additions, including plenty of hip-hop. Fun Manchu is nestled next to Skepta, Less Than Jake alongside A Tribe Called Quest. It’s the best of both worlds.

But the game’s success probably lies in the sheer joy it gives you when you finally nail a trick you’ve been trying to perfect. A pop shove-it over a drain pipe, a 360 kick-flip up the side of a wall, or grinding the entire lip of a swimming pool.

You’ve got to fail to succeed, and this is a game that takes time to get good at. I was surprised that after 20 years, some of the muscle memory from my original addiction remained, but there’s more to learn.

Just like real life skateboarding, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 asks you to practice, practice, practice. You need to put in the hours in to perfect your craft – but it’s all worth it.

Your thumbs may not like you for it, but what’s a couple of sore joints when there’s this much fun to be had?

* Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is out now for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.


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Chris Schulz

Chris Schulz has 20 years experience writing about New Zealand's technology and entertainment industries. He lives in Auckland.

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