It’s been out for a few weeks now, but while stuck in Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown I’ve found so much comfort in playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. It’s that ideal combination of reassuringly familiar and engaging, that it’s enough to take me out of worrying about the current situation and just engross me in the freedom of skating.
What’s so magical about the game is that it looks and feels exactly as I remember it from when I was a kid, playing the Marseilles level over and over again long after my parents thought I’d gone to sleep. Of course, that means it really looks and feels about 10 times better than it actually did on the Gateway PC I got for my 12th birthday. Nostalgia is like that – everything you loved as a kid is always remastered in your memories. It’s so rare that revisiting it will ever live up to that, which is why this is such an impressive feat.
Of course, I’m nowhere near as good as I used to be. 12-year-olds have significantly better reflexes and dexterity than us wizened 30-somethings. Hopefully I’m just out of practice and the ease of combos will come back soon. Or, maybe, like the graphics and the gameplay, I’m an unreliable witness for my own skills. (But let’s just blame age anyway.)
More impressive is there are plenty of updates and tweaks to keep it feeling fresh and nostalgic (which is a particular brand of wizardry unto itself). Seeing the mall level go from lush and stocked in the early 2000s to abandoned and decaying in 2020 feels appropriate. It also just looks cooler.
Other welcome changes include more diversity in the included playable skaters. Elise Steamer was always cool in the original games, but broadening the roster to include Lizzie Armanto, Leticia Bufoni, and Aori Nishimura gives kids more skating heroes to look up to. And the inclusion of Leo Baker, a non-binary skater with incredible skills, is huge given the lack of non-binary rep in all games, let alone sporting titles.
The big problem, of course, is that the longer I play, the more I think I can actually skateboard. The same thing happened back in 2001; I saved all my pocket money to buy a skateboard, and then realised I lived on a particularly steep mountain with no easy access to flat pavement. That child-size skateboard is probably hidden somewhere in my parents’ house, still in like-new condition.
Now that I actually have access to somewhere to learn, I have the curse of actually feeling pain that kicks in around 25. As a teen I could calmly put my dislocated shoulder back in the socket and go about my day, whereas now I need to sit down for a minute after stubbing my toe. Perhaps it’s for the best that none of the stores that could sell me a skateboard are open in Melbourne.
For those of you who have been playing Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater 1+2, how is it living up to your memories? Or if you didn’t play it as a kid, what do you think of it with a clean slate?
If you haven’t picked up a copy of Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater 1+2 yet, you can grab a cheap copy here.