This article was published more than 2 years ago
I forgot that a “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” run lasts only two minutes. But you only need two minutes to decide whether the upcoming remaster will be good. It’s going to be fantastic.
It’s a genius move to break out the Warehouse level, the same area that the first PlayStation players tried in the “Jampack” demo disc of the summer of 1999. It’s a nuclear bomb of nostalgia, skating in that brown first area with Goldfinger’s “Superman” blaring upstroke after upstroke of last-century ska punk.
It’ll take two minutes to decide the game is good, and probably a few seconds to realize how much harder the game is today. It’s not just because you got older and your skills got rustier. It’s because the game got faster and weightier. Check out the difference in Gamespot’s comparison video.
Tony flies farther and higher in 1999 than he does today. The “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” series was never about realism. The game came out in the very early days of 3D gaming, and series creator Neversoft landed on a 3D formula that other games couldn’t quite nail.
Take the “Sonic the Hedgehog” series, a franchise supposedly about speedy, stylish platforming. Sonic’s 3D outings are famously bad at failing to capture that spirit. But “Tony Hawk” managed to fuse a platforming design philosophy (find secret areas in the stage and hunt collectibles) with the intensity of a fighting game, with your only sparring partner being gravity. And gravity’s only gotten tougher in 2020.
The demo is sparse, with no collectibles, and only Tony Hawk as a selectable skater. But it gives you plenty to get excited about. And the upcoming remasters of the first two beloved titles will include accessibility options, or essentially training wheels. You can opt to never fall off a grind or bail (fall down and eat pavement). It’s an excellent way to practice the more complicated button inputs.
The “Tony Hawk” games are all about timing, quick button presses and being able to think ahead in split-second timing. It’s not unlike an esport, and it’s going to be exciting to see this series return in a golden age of competitive gaming and streaming entertainment.
“Tony Hawk” games were played endlessly for old school reasons: to top the last score, either yours or your friend’s. It was always about improving your own skills, and nailing a perfect, flawless run to rack up millions of points. The remaster introduces “manual” traversal from the second game, which extended combo possibilities as long as the two-minute clock will allow.
As you can see in the “Tony Hawk 2” perfect run above, the game’s physics were never realistic. Skaters are never meant to grind upward like they do in these games. It’s why the “Tony Hawk” series inspired dozens of skating games to aspire for more realism. The recent “Skater XL” by Easy Day Studios received a lot of attention for its more realistic portrayal of the sport.
But “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” barely qualifies as a sports game. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that can only be replicated within the series. It means something to an entire generation who used the game to discover new music like Rage Against the Machine or Dub Pistols, long before the algorithm-fueled oceans of Spotify and TikTok.
The warehouse demo unlocks today for anyone who preordered the game. Like back in 1999, it’s going to be more than enough to keep old pro skaters busy until the Sept. 4 release date, because the 1999 demo was also enough. “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” isn’t just a sports game. It’s an all-time 3D gaming classic that deserves its place alongside peers like “Super Mario 64” and “Tomb Raider.”
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