The best remasters and remakes are the ones that click instantly. Where you remember the timing of specific button presses or the perfect path through an obstacle. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, from Vicarious Visions, Beenox, and Activision, is exactly that kind of game. In the new warehouse demo, which plops players as Tony Hawk into one of the series's most iconic levels, there is no tutorial. There is no fluff explaining how to skate. You just drop into the warehouse, and you're immediately crashing through wooden doors and barrelling down a giant slope at record speed.
It's like riding a bike. Or rather, a board.
My thumbs immediately knew what to do-Square for flips, Triangle for grinding, analog stick flicking for balancing a manual, how holding X makes the skater stoop low on their board to build up speed before their next ollie. I didn't remember it consciously, but my instincts immediately got to work, even if it led to more bails and sloppy landings than clean trick finishes. I'm not a pro yet, after all.
The demo is pretty bare in features. It loads into the Warehouse level near instantaneously, and it's immediately off to skating for two minutes. It takes me back to the days when I'd play demos endlessly; when my mom would subscribe to Official PlayStation Magazine for those neat demo discs. Already, I've poured hours into Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 demo. It may be slim on content, but it's endless in replayability.
In the start screen, there's a glimpse at two additional outfits that are unlockable for Tony if you complete certain named challenges, plus different boards to equip-but it's all locked for now. In separate tabs there are menus for "Skate Shop," Challenges, and Profile, though all are inaccessible for now. There's still some customization in the form of tricks, however. Four slots for grab and flip trips are customizable for specific moves, such as an Ollie Airwalk. There's also Special tricks-which are only achievable after building up your Special meter in a round-of which there are five slots in the demo, but 10 overall will be unlockable. This is where Tony can do the 900 again, basically. (It's so hard to land, y'all.)
Already, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is better than its rough predecessors. 2015's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 and 2012's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD collection, which folded multiple Pro Skater games into one, were both critically panned. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, in structure, is most similar to the latter, only this time without leaving anything out. It bears most of the soundtrack from the first two games, save a couple songs, while bundling in 37 new ones. The remake even introduces moves that weren't in the first two games, like reverts, but you can roll it back to the classics if you prefer, thanks to THPS1 Classic and THPS2 Classic moveset settings in the "Game Mods" tab in the pause screen. (Here's to hoping big head mods are back.)
It all feels solid, actually. The old movesets restore things to how I personally prefer them too. Whereas I stumbled in my first few Warehouse runs due to my own clumsiness, in dialing back the moveset settings to THPS1 and then THPS2, my preferred one, I found my combos lasting longer; my performance getting better. It was intuition guiding me now. I found myself back home, thanks in part to the demo's limited tracklist that includes Goldfinger's "Superman" (of course) and Rage Against the Machine's "Guerrilla Radio."
There are new modern flourishes that I'm not sure I like. When Tony wipes out, a weird glitch and rewind effect distorts the music and himself as he climbs back onto his board. I found that it slowed down the pacing of getting back to skating. In the Warehouse demo, there aren't the usual trappings I'd expect from an old Tony Hawk game either, such as collectable skate tapes in hard to reach spots, or spelling out the word "skate" in collecting each individual letter. I'm hoping both make their return in the remake's full version.
It seems that Activision heard the cries of the skateboarding community amidst the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series's last outing. In putting remake stewards Vicarious Visions at the head-the leads for the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and the lead developers on the handheld entries of the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series-and Beenox, the dedicated support studio for the likes of Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is building up for its biggest trick of all. That is, it's probably going to be very, very good.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2's Warehouse Demo is out this Friday for those who buy Tony Hawk's "favorite" burrito at Chipotle. At least this marketing tactic taught us that Tony's a health-conscious lad-he prefers brown rice in his burritos. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2's full version is out Sept. 4 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.