How Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Inspired a Generation of Skaters

Tony Hawks 1+2
Tony Hawks 1+2

When it was announced that Vicarious Visions (Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy) would be developing full remakes of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, the internet exploded. Hardcore gamers and casual players alike were thrilled that the series was coming back, and many took to social media and message boards to share their favourite memories of the original games.

For many, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a social game. Despite it being primarily a single-player experience, THPS and its sequels took inspiration from classic arcade games, placing emphasis on high scores, lending the games a distinctly competitive quality. At the height of THPS’ popularity, it was not uncommon for players old and young to crowd around a CRT TV, passing the controller back and forth, as they attempted to best their friends’ records.

The brilliance of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater lay in it’s balance… if you’ll excuse the pun. The gameplay was just simple enough that beginners could easily pick it up and start pulling off tricks, but complex enough that you could waste away hours trying to perfect a single level. This balance also extended to its realism. All the staple tricks were present – ollies, kickflips, manuals, etc. – and all of these moves could be strung together in long and impressive combos far beyond what is possible on a real skateboard. This meant that beginners could get an authentic skating experience, while more dedicated players could string together some really creative trick sequences.

Tony Hawk before and after

It helped that THPS was dripping in authenticity. Neversoft’s early games absolutely nailed that early 2000s skater aesthetic from the blaring pop-punk soundtrack to the branded clothing that the many real-life pro skaters would rock. Beyond the sights and sounds, THPS also evoked the culture of skateboarding from the rebellious attitude to the unapologetically silly sense of humour.

As the sport of skating grew, so did THPS, as an ever-expanding cast of pro skaters joined the ranks. Naturally many fans took up skating in real life as a direct result of their affection for the Tony Hawks games (this writer included). Although few would reach the heights of the Birdman himself (who is now the most famous skateboarder in the world), many would come away from the era with fond memories of roaming the streets with friends, trying and often failing to pull off their favourite tricks from THPS. Could the upcoming remakes inspire a whole new generation of daring teens to take up the board? We’ll find out when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 launches on 4 September.