Back in May, the announcement of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 was met with a rush of mostly positive feelings from gamers. Whether it was from those who remembered playing the original back in 1999 or players who have only heard about the former king of the skateboarding genre, there was no shortage of opinion on the idea of a remake.
That said, a remake of a once beloved franchise has brought up questions regarding not only its viability in 2020 but it’s ability to bring in players young and old. There’s a group of players expecting to see an exact recreation of the game they remember while others are looking for a game that will help bring skateboard video games back to the forefront. It’s a unique situation for all involved, and one that could make or break the future of the series whether it be in further remakes or new installments all together.
“We went through a lot of discussions because Tony Hawk has a long history as a franchise,” Leo Zuniga, Design Specialist from Vicarious Visions, said about making sure fans from all sides of the fence are pleased. “There’s fans for the earlier games, middle games, and later games, you know? So what do you do to accommodate all of that?”
Zuniga said that everything was on the table for inclusion or removal from the remake. In order to get that point across, he put in a policy where there were “no sacred cows” in the game. If a developer was passionate enough about something and believed it would help add value to the game, it would be discussed among the team.
“It just needs to be worth it,” he said. “We can’t just add for the sake of adding, and vice versa.”
One example is the spine transfer. It wasn’t a part of the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but it was something that the team felt was necessary to have in the remake. The reasoning being the fact that although the old levels didn’t have many situations where the spine transfer was useful, the Create-A-Park mode allows players to make a park that could have the transfer be a critical part of the experience.
It’s all part of finding that perfect balance to make happy as many players as possible.
Past, Present, and Future of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
The game features a mix of skaters from the past and present. Along with Tony Hawk, popular skaters from the original games like Bob Burnquist, Chad Muska, and Jamie Thomas will be featured as playable characters. However, to pique the interest of the younger skateboarding fan, the game will also feature street stars like Nyjah Huston, Leticia Bufoni, and Leo Baker.
Therein lies another issue for some. Though park and street skating is a part of the game, the Tony Hawk series to many is known more for its high-flying tricks in the vert scene. And while it’ll feature the insane tricks for the vert fans, Vicarious Visions is taking advantage of the talent of the younger street crowd to keep that element of the sport well represented.
“The cool part about it is that all of these skaters from the original are still part of the community,” Zuniga said. “They know who’s up and coming, and we are able to see the young, diverse group of skaters with varying skillsets to make sure everyone is recreated properly.”
To have proper recreations meant making sure movesets for skaters were as accurate as possible, even for those that may not focus in disciplines such as vert. This led to the developers creating new general and special moves for skaters like Huston and Bufoni that they could realistically achieve.
“We would send them like clips of themselves doing cool moves that we think would fit the game,” Zuniga said. “They would come back to us and tell us, like, you know, ‘Oh, it should be leaning this way. And maybe if you rotate me this way or that way.’ So there was a little bit of direction from them.”
For someone like Thomas, being an elder statesman, so to speak, provides him with an opportunity to see how this remake will re-engage the skateboarding community. In fact, he views it as things coming full circle for someone who has seen the sport go through numerous booms and dips.
“The last game brought skateboarding into millions of homes that you wouldn’t have known about skateboarding otherwise,” Thomas said. “[I think] that can happen again. Right now, it’s very exciting to see the narrative that skateboarding is really cool be supported again.
“There’s so much to celebrate,” he said.
At the end of it all, this is a game 21 years in the making. The first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater launched in August 1999, and now, for those part of the original like Thomas, it’s an exciting feeling knowing his children and their friends will get to experience a game that feels nearly identical to what the original had.
“It’s one of the most surreal parts of this for me,” Thomas said while reminiscing about being part of the Tony Hawk experience. “The technology has been updated, and it’s an HD version of what it originally felt like.
“The fact that they just invited all the original cast of the games was just amazing. It makes you feel like you have a place, and that your effort in this — committing your life to this thing — was not in vain.”
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 launches on September 4 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.