Tony Hawk is back.
The ageless skater and his compendium of friends will return to home consoles and PCs this fall with a remastered collection of “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” and “Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2.” The two-game package will be released in September on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Epic Games Store for PC for $40. Developed by Vicarious Visions, the developers behind the extremely impressive “Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy,” this collection promises to be high quality.
The announcement was teased last week with a “text message” from Tony Hawk to social media followers, in which he gleefully shared that a new remaster of the two best games in the long-running series were incoming. Hours later, Activision issued a press release and uploaded a trailer to YouTube showcasing the amazing visuals. Vicarious Visions did an amazing job remaking “Crash Bandicoot,” another PlayStation-era series, and it looks like they’ve put an equal amount of love and attention into this collection.
The remastered set will feature updated visuals and all of the original levels, characters and tricks from the original two games. In an interesting — and somewhat amusing — twist, every skater, including Hawk, will be modeled at their current ages. The original games were released more than 20 years ago, and featured a roster of young professional skaters that were in their early adult years. Hawk, now 52, and Steve Caballero, 55, are the oldest skaters in the collection, and they’re going to look their ages in full 4K glory. The youngest skater included in the game, Andrew Reynolds, is still 41. Middle-aged dads and Generation-X members can rejoice at the age equality on display in the game.
Much like the “Crash Bandicoot” collection, there will be some minor gameplay changes implemented in the remasters. Vicarious Visions hasn’t yet gone into detail about what those changes might be, instead musing about how the studio wants to “push the boundaries” while knowing “what to keep sacred.” Early details point to being able to switch seamlessly between the two games, possibly unlocking materials from both simultaneously to use in the collection’s new skate park creator feature.
Once you’ve unlocked enough materials, you can build your own skate park and upload it to Xbox Live, PlayStation Network or whatever Epic Games calls its mess of a store these days. Players can download each other’s skate parks to enjoy offline, or together with friends in new multiplayer modes. The trailer showcased a score attack mode, but Vicarious Visions promises more options will be available when the game ships.
The “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” games were known as much for their soundtracks as for their gameplay, and Vicarious Visions has promised to stick as close to those soundtracks as possible. The majority of the song lists from each game have returned, so you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of that late-90s and early-00s grunge and pop music. But, due to licensing issues, not every song will be included on the soundtrack. Both consoles feature custom soundtrack options and Spotify features the original soundtracks for both games, should you want the full authentic experience.
It was a pleasant surprise to see such an announcement late last week. The series didn’t exactly end on the best of terms with 2015’s “Pro Skater 5.” The cheap, bug-riddled cash-in was released with less than a year of development in order to drain one last bit of blood from the “Tony Hawk” license before Activision would lose it at the end of the year. The game was an utter failure by every standard, and even pushed Hawk to seek a new licensing deal with another publisher to continue the franchise.
Like with “Crash Bandicoot” and the “Spyro Ignited Trilogy,” Activision is tapping into that nascent PlayStation One nostalgia, by putting money and time into quality remasters. While the games are still more than two decades old, the remasters allow developers to stick with what works, make some modern quality-of-life improvements and please old fans and attract new fans alike. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with these series when, for many, these games are entirely new.
“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remastered” will release Sept. 4.
Josh Rouse lives in Lawton.