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I'm sure you've heard by now that Activision and Vicarious Visions are remastering Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its sequel for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Fans everywhere - myself included - are obviously over the moon that they'll be able to replay these all-time classics with a few modern touches thrown in.
Ahead of the game's launch on September 4th, I got to speak with pro skater Andrew Reynolds. Those who grew up with the original games will know that Reynolds has been a part of the franchise since day one, and anyone even vaguely interested in skateboarding will be familiar with his career so far.
Read on for our full conversation, including how the original games impacted his career, growing up with Tony as a mentor, why Fortnite isn't as cool as Pro Skater, and so much more.
Hi Andrew, let's just dive in. You were obviously involved with the OG games back in the day, what was that experience like for you?
I've been close with Tony since I was 14 years old. He sponsored me as a kid, so I guess it was up to him to pick a group of skaters that he felt represented pro skaters at that time, and I dunno... I just got lucky when he asked me if I wanted to be part of it.
I didn't really know what to expect at the time, I just thought it'd... maybe kinda go unnoticed or something like that? But me and the rest of the guys went down and got our characters made and did everything we were asked to do... and within the next few years it was huge. I'd say double the people that were coming up to me were talking about the game not just me as a pro skateboarder - they were fans of the game. So it was really a big deal, it was intense.
Were you/are you much a gamer?
Not much of a gamer, nah. I think I had like, Super Mario or something as a kid but apart from that, not really.
I know at least in the UK, the original games really got a lot of kids interested in boarding - was that something you noticed, or even expected to happen at the time?
I actually didn't expect that when I first heard we were gonna be part of the game. I just thought it was kind of a trip to be part of a video game so I just went along with it, like 'okay cool, it's good money and Tony wants me to do it, so I'll do it'.
But I bet there's a lot of kids for who Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was their first introduction to skating cos a lot of them do tell me they used to watch the videos [bonus content in the original games]. And a lot of these kids are like, 'I'd always watch your video on the Tony Hawk game' so if they're interested in watching actual videos then they're definitely into skating, because I don't think many kids just sit and watch skate videos unless they like to go out and actually skate.
Do you hope that these games will cause a surge in interest among this generation of kids?
Oh for sure. Anything that gets kids skating, to me, is good. I'm a parent now, and I hear a lot of parents say 'my kids always on this game', you know what I mean? So if a game can actually do the opposite and have them interested in the game and makes them wanna do something that's active and out with their friends, that's kind of cool, you know?
Sure. And this is something I actually wanted to ask you. For me growing up, we had this one really crappy half pipe in our town... which eventually got demolished. As a street skater first and foremost, what's your advice to any kids who want to get into skating, but don't live near any decent parks?
I grew up in a town called Lakeland Florida that had nothing. I feel like it's part of the fun of skateboarding is to be able to find a curb and make it happen. I dunno, it might be different now because there are so many nice parks and kids expect it to be like that.
But in my eyes, you should just be able to walk out. If there's concrete - I mean if you live on a farm or something you might be out of luck - but if there's concrete, just get creative. I used to sit in a parking lot and try to do tricks over cardboard boxes, or like a McDonald's cup - anything.
Were you consulted (by Tony or Activision) much on street skating and the kinds of moves that would be put in the game, and how to portray them authentically?
I think what they did was they did their research on the videos and how people moved, and how certain tricks looked. Tony was the main one in the suit with all the sensors to get the body movements. But when you watch a character do a trick, they might be flying through the air, but the motion is the same as the actual trick, it's really cool. It's perfect.
We had a little input here and there but, at least myself, when I saw the way it looked I thought it was good. I didn't have any complaints or think anything needed to be changed. I thought it just looked really cool.
How long have you known about the new game? Did you have much input?
Not long, Tony mentioned it to me a while ago. That it might be happening. But that was all I heard. Next thing you know people started to get in touch with me and ask me to come down and scan my head and pick out my outfits. It was one or two days of work and that's it. Pretty easy.
We're 20 years on now and the reaction to the remaster has been so positive - clearly people will always love the Pro Skater games - how does it feel to be a part of video game history?
(Laughs) I dunno! I never really thought about it! Um... I guess you end up being in the same realm as an NBA guy or a wrestler or a superhero at that point. It sounds ridiculous to even say I'm a character in a video game. It's great! I'm stoked that I ever got to be a part of it. It's all because of Tony and meeting Tony and working hard as a skater, but to be able to get old and say 'I was a character in a video game' is insane. I dunno! It's really weird.
Does seeing yourself in a video game ever get any less weird? Especially now, since the visuals are obviously way better than ever before.
Honestly it just all kind of happened. I just accept it as it comes. Maybe it's just my personality, I'm not very nostalgic about it! They put me in the game and hundreds of people came up to me and told me they played as me. I just kinda roll with it.
How does it feel seeing the older versions of you and Tony skating around these classic levels?
To be honest I haven't seen much besides the videos that popped up on Instagram and I wasn't sure if that was something that was actually in the game, I dunno. I was hoping after 20 years that it'd look better and that there'd be more that you can do. The games that the kids play aren't even that good. What are the games kids play right now? Fortnite? I don't even understand the point of it, really. I feel like this is way cooler.
Well, I'd probably agree. On that, did you ever have much input on the original soundtrack?
That was probably all Tony. I think we were trying to get artists that had something to do with skateboarding or maybe at that point in their career just needed some help, or would be in the game for cheap. I think that was probably part of it. And a lot of them blew up from it!
You've a self-confessed perfectionist when it comes to executing tricks right - are you the same in the games... if you ever do play them?
I can't play games (laughs). I'm too... I don't have the patience, I dunno. The reward of winning is not big enough for me. I can't give time to it. I dunno, I'm just not cut out for it.
Fair enough man, I mean, you're a pro skater so... that's pretty cool.
Yeah I get my adrenaline doing that.
If you could talk to yourself from back in 2000, what would you tell them about where you are now and the success of the Pro Skater games?
I'd probably tell myself, if I could go back right now, I'd probably tell myself 'you need to start game. Make your own game'. That's what I'd tell myself (laughs).
'Andrew Reynolds Pro Skater'?
(Laughs) yeah. Nah, Tony's the only one with the name to pull it off. I mean, there are a couple others, but Tony is the one, you know? But I'm glad at the time that I just didn't blow it off or something. I'm glad that I trusted Tony on it, and did it. Because it's not something I would have thought would have had as big an impact on my career as it did.
If somebody told me then that this game was gonna do so much for me and double my fans that even know my name, I probably wouldn't have even believed it. It still trips me out. When I made the post about the new game, there was 500/600 comments from people who were just so excited.
Was there ever anyone back in the day who refused to be part of Pro Skater, do you know?
Oh, I dunno. I haven't heard any stories like that. I mean I know most of the people that were in the first one. I think in the skate world, especially then, most people have a respect for Tony.
For me, whenever he asked for something - asking me to go on trips or whatever - I just agree to anything he asks. It's just something I told myself early on - if he wants me to do something, I'm gonna do it. I wouldn't be where I am without him. If it's a game or a tour, whatever. I'm there.
Are you and Tony still close?
Yeah we talk all the time. We both just recently got on Vans which is really cool. We went and shot some stuff for that. It's just one of those things. Like a friend you haven't seen in a few years but when you see them it's just as the same as it's always been.
I've been around Tony since I was 14 years old and he's taken me the hospital when I've broken my shoulder, and put me up and traveled me around the world. He's just done everything for me. I think we'll probably be close forever.
How do you think the scene has changed in the three decades you've been part of it?
To me not much has changed. There's always different groups of people. Back then there was the real serious contest skaters that took it super seriously and wanted to do that. And there's still that now, just maybe on a bigger scale. The kids that are trying to get into the Olympics and training for that, they're very serious. And their parents are involved, and there are coaches and stuff like that.
But then there's the exact same thing going on, what I was telling you about from when I was young, just a bunch of friends roaming around trying to find stuff to skate on and filming. That's what my friends do and all the young guys that I sponsor. Not much has changed. It's the same thing: learning tricks, falling, getting back up and trying to figure it out.
So you're sponsoring younger skaters now. Do you feel like you learned from Tony in that you're now the one mentoring kids?
Definitely. I mean it wasn't something that we ever talked about. I never asked him how do you do this or anything like that. It was more... right in front of my face. I watched, when we would tour, no matter what the circumstances, he would get out and skate his hardest for the fans.
He'd make sure that we were all happy, had rooms, had food. He never complained about a single thing. Even back then on smaller tours, he would just go and handle business. So that kind of sunk into me as a human being. Watching him, whether you're making a ton of money or not, you show up and try to do a good job. Over the years you see kids that are difficult. You know what? They're not gonna make it. They're not gonna be on the next tour. Because nobody wants to deal with that. So I just kind of watched, learned, and skated. Skated hard.
Awesome, so if I can leave you with one last question. Let's assume you are making Andrew Reynold's Pro Skater. What real-world locations that you love to skate would you put into the game?
I would have all the famous street plazas. They probably did this already, but Embarcadero in San Francisco. I'd have LOVE Park [JFK Plaza]. I'd have the whole Brooklyn Bank, underneath there. I'd have the Tampa Skatepark and include the original - this green bowl that was in downtown Tampa. Oh and maybe like the chin ramp. Yeah mostly LOVE and Embarcadero probably. That'd be cool.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 And 2 - Remastered hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 4th.
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