Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 are making their triumphant return in a faithful remaster coming this September, all in beautiful 4K and HDR.
It’s like a little ray of sunshine peeking through a year-long stretch of dark clouds.
The word “faithful” rings clear in this two-for-one remaster. It’s going to have all the skaters, all the modes, all the tricks, and all the levels (including the secret ones) from those first two Tony Hawk games, along with most of the songs from the iconic soundtracks.
If that isn’t faithful enough for you, Jen Oneal, the studio head at Vicarious Visions that’s making the remaster, told Mashable in an interview that a bunch of the people working on this project worked on the original series, including at the original development studio Neversoft.
“What’s really cool for me and a number of people in the studio is, we’ve worked on this series throughout our careers,” Oneal said. “I have a number of developers who are actually from Neversoft, a number who worked on the original series, and I worked on the Tony Hawk series for several years back at Activision. So, you know, this was like the start of our careers, and now to evolve and get the opportunity to bring this back is such a big deal for us.”
To work on these remasters about 20 years after they first released has been “awesome,” Oneal said.
Working on this remaster, Oneal said she feels like a gaming archaeologist. As someone who worked on the critically acclaimed Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy remaster, she has a lot of experience and appreciation for working on remasters.
“It’s really important that we’re preserving the nostalgia and making sure that we’re doing justice to the fans,” she said. “We think a lot about, ‘What is the memory of the game?’”
“Just look at the purity of those first two games.”
A big part of what made those games so popular was the way they felt.
“When you ask somebody, ‘What do you remember about Tony Hawk?’ The first thing that comes to mind is: ‘I could do these amazing things as a skater, and it felt so good. The handling was just so awesome,’” Oneal said. “One of the things that’s noteworthy about how we handled handling is we got the original Neversoft code, but we updated it so it feels really great, with more modern fluid animations. We spent a lot of care and attention to make sure we’re not going to forget our original fanbase.”
That said, there are some quality-of-life improvements that needed to be made. For instance, the revert trick (a grounded, 180 slide) has been added, even though it wasn’t introduced until later in the series, because it makes chaining combinations better. Along with that addition, the create-a-skater player creator feature is more robust, with more options, and the create-a-park level creator mode has a bunch of new ways to customize your levels to make unique creations, including the ability to warp and deform different objects like ramps, rails, and quarterpipes.
With the addition of online multiplayer (split-screen multiplayer is still there), players can not only play with each other on the classic levels of the original games, but also, they can easily share their create-a-park levels and build off of each other.
“With streamers, with people on Youtube being able to create content to share with the world, I can see this being something that really picks up,” Oneal said.
You may be aware that there has already been a remaster of the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games that came out in 2012, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. While these projects sound similar at a glance, they are very different.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD received mixed reviews and was missing a couple of key features, namely the create-a-skater and create-a-park modes that were so integral to the original experiences. It just didn’t really feel like the old games that hooked people in 1999 and 2000.
“I think the goals of that game were a bit different from ours,” Oneal said. “Imagine if you just look at the purity of those first two games; that’s where we put all of our focus.”
She talked about her own experience in development, when the team was just starting to implement tricks into the game and having players come in and test the game, how that old muscle memory just kicks right back in.
“What’s really cool is seeing players who haven’t played this game in a long time, they just have this muscle memory,” Oneal said. “I talked about the revert, for example. When we first started working on this and started implementing some of the tricks, my trigger finger just kept hitting [the revert button] like it was naturally there. Your body just knows what it’s supposed to do. For people to have that experience again, I’m really excited about that.”
Despite the team having to start working from home after starting together in the studio, which Oneal described as pretty easy transition, game development hasn’t really hit any speed bumps due to the coronavirus. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 is expected to come out Sept. 4 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC for $39.99.