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Nostalgia in video games is nothing new. Even outright bad games play on it to remind you of your rose-tinted past - it didn't actually look like it was filmed on celluloid, but that's how you remember it now. So when I loaded up the demo for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, I was delighted to see Activision embracing the present as much as days gone by.
The opening video has the feel of the original THPS games, but it's refreshed with footage of pro skaters who are new to the cast, like Leticia Bufoni. It also contains Tony Hawk's last 900 recorded on camera, which he achieved four years ago at the mighty age of 48. These details immediately tell you this isn't your grandad's skateboarding game, assuming your grandad played the first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (mine didn't).
This revitalisation of the format extends to gameplay, too. In addition to a gorgeous graphical overhaul (more on that later), gameplay features all the additions the THPS series included up to its fourth instalment. You can manual, revert, wall plant, and more to keep your combos going for that sweet high score. You can also switch up your moves in the middle of grinds and manuals, going from 5-0 to noseblunt, or pogo to casper, all in one fluid motion.
Don't worry, purists: you can still enjoy skating the old way, too. There are mod options that let you change the controls to the original THPS1 or 2, so you can strip away manuals, reverts, and all the other stuff that wasn't there back in the day. You can also turn on the original cheats, like perfect rail balance and permanently full special meter, so going for outrageously high-points totals is just as easy as it ever was.
The most noticeable change really is the visuals. Don't get me wrong, it still looks and feels like a great Tony Hawk game, but Vicarious Visions and Beenox have elevated its aesthetic to a gobsmackingly pretty level, while still retaining the arcadey vibe of the trick animations. From the character models, to the pro deck graphics on each board, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 looks how the original games did in your imagination, if not better. Graphics aren't everything - of course they aren't - but watching a Tony Hawk that looks this good land a 360 Varial McTwist accentuates the majesty of the game.
For many - myself included - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its three sequels were the definitive sports simulators of our youth. Whether you wanted to master every level's objectives, or to simply roam around busting the occasional tre flip, this game and its sequels could happily claim hours of your life while you dropped in on quarter-pipes and dropped out to Goldfinger's 'Superman'. I couldn't be happier to say that the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Demo keeps this joyous tradition going. Welcome back, Tony, we've missed you.
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