Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 was my favourite game of 2020. I enjoyed it so much that I gave it the only 10/10 I’ve ever awarded to the game. Developer Vicarious Visions managed to capture what made the original two games so magical, while adding just the perfect amount of modern touches that it felt like a new game.
The concept of porting a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game to handhelds is not a new one. The series has a history of great – and not so great – handheld renditions of the extreme sports game. Whether great, okay or bad, it always felt like developers had to design around the limitations of handheld consoles. For example, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 on the Game Boy Advance shifted to a top-down isometric viewpoint as the handheld lacked the grunt for a full fat 3D skating game.
Of course, there’s no such changes to the game needed for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 on the Nintendo Switch. Players are treated to pretty much the exact same experience as on console last year, though does have to step things back in the graphics department. It’s a fair compromise though, ensuring the game runs consistently while players ollie, grind and kickflip their way through each level.
Originally launched on PS4, Xbox One and PC last August, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is a from the ground up remake of the first two games which adds a new coat of graphics, new skaters and a bunch of other new content. However, what’s most important is that it retains the physics and game-feel that made the original titles so popular. After years of failed reboots, Vicarious Visions finally brought the series close to those heights it initially reached.
The Nintendo Switch port is for intents and purposes pretty much exactly the same other than one noticeable area: its visuals. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 on Nintendo Switch dials back the visuals and resolution while targeting 30fps. While that is half the frame rate of the game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, it’s a sensible decision and ensures smooth and consistent gameplay in a game which demands precision and timing. The visual downgrade is most noticeable while playing at 1080p on a large screen, but playing in handheld mode looks great on the Switch’s screen.
One area the Switch port falls short is how the game controls. The Nintendo Joy-Con analogue sticks are smaller than those you would find on the DualShock 4 or the Xbox One controller and lack the same level of precision. This is especially noticeable when playing at a higher level, as combos in the millions require fast, precise inputs to maintain. I found myself fighting with the controls more than I did with the PS4 version.
Other than those minor gripes, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a major breakthrough for the series on a portable console. It retains all the elements of the other console version, while allowing players to indulge in skate sessions while on the go. Every level from the first two games is available, along with the standard objective-based single player mode, online and split-screen multiplayer.
One of the biggest additions in the remakes is a profile and challenge system. Players can unlock a number of challenges through the profile system, which provides additional incentive to play. Players can unlock points through the challenge system, which can be used to unlock new customisation options for skaters.