Judging by the reactions online, I don’t think many people were expecting it. I certainly wasn’t. I’m not even sure that many people were clamoring for it, perhaps assuming it just wasn’t in the cards. But a lot of people are stoked to hear about it. What is it in particular that I am talking about? Why, the upcoming remasters of the first two Tony Hawk Pro Skater games of course.
These games had a huge impact on gaming when they came out. Beyond that, they had a huge impact on culture in general. Sure, Activision would eventually exhaust the franchise with release after release but in the game’s earliest days, it was an absolute force to be reckoned with. Across different platforms, the first game alone sold over five million units.
Outside of gaming, it launched an interest in skateboarding for a generation of youth. There is a degree to which I am speaking anecdotally but it is hard to imagine the trend was only local. All of a sudden, people were buying skateboards and setting up parks in their basement. Toys, called Tech Decks, became a common site. Hanging out at friend’s houses meant playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater multiplayer. And each subsequent game, for a while, was something to be excited about. Pre-teens were suddenly interested in a lot of the same things as teenagers were interested in. The game’s soundtrack also, likely, caused a resurgence in punk music. It also probably introduced a generation to ska music. One of the primary points of discussion about the games, all these years later, is the soundtrack. Who didn’t get down to Goldfinger’s “Superman,” when they were playing.
The good news is that a lot of these songs are returning in the upcoming games. Licensing issues, however, did prevent the full track list from returning, unfortunately, but I can accept that. It’s almost to be expected.
That’s not the only thing exciting about this game. Simply rehashing the original would risk spoiling people’s memories of the game – it hasn’t aged perfectly. The remaster looks like it’s being retooled in a lot of ways and, beyond that, Vicarious Games, who handled the recent remaster of the Crash Bandicoot games, are handing the project. They were also responsible for some of the portable versions of Tony Hawk Pro Skater. It's safe to say that they have significant experience with the franchise and in reworking PlayStation-era classics.
Both titles will be released together. In all honesty, the games aren’t all that different. Different songs, different parks, but the same vibe overall. Instead of allowing the games to exist entirely separately in this relaunch, the developers are going to have them synergize just a bit. For example, unlockables for modes that exist outside the original games will be pulled from both titles, creating a sense of continuity between the two games.
The original skaters are also back, which is great because they’ve become iconic. They deserve to be back. Hopefully secret characters, like Spider-Man, will be returning, as well. It’s worth noting, though, that Disney owns the Marvel now, and Activision no longer creates Spider-Man games, the fate of the character is uncertain. In an ideal world, there will be a roster that expands on the original, and maybe that can fill a potential Spider-Man shaped void.
I can’t imagine these remasters will have the same impact as the original games. I can imagine a lot of old fans will at least check these out, and hopefully new fans will jump on board, too. For now, I’m just glad that there’s something as carefree and energetic as a new Tony Hawk game to look forward to. I think a lot of people will find the experience a relaxing break from an otherwise stressful year.