I grew up in the 90s, which is another way of saying “of course I played the Tony Hawk games.” The first two popped up here and there, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was the first console version I remember really attaching myself to. We had it on the Nintendo 64 and spent hours on it there. Later on, I also had it on the PS2 and the GameCube. And I played a lot more of it. Even today, THPS3 would end up on my list of Top 10 favorite video games ever.
When the remakes of the first two games were announced, I was pretty dang excited. Even though they weren't the ones that held the highest spot in my memory, I was excited to set off skating again. I had a chance to try the Xbox version THPS1+2, finished the whole first game, and mostly thought it was fine.
Whether it was the super-advanced graphics or the fact that I never really played the very first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater very much, nothing about the experience tickled a nostalgic itch for me. It was fun but forgettable.
But now Tony Hawk is on Switch
I was able to get my hands on an early copy of the Switch release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2. And it's a whole new ballgame. This game grabbed me and did kick(flipped) me in the face with nostalgia.
I booted the game (in handheld mode of course) and plopped down on the couch to play it. Since I'd already played through the first game on XBox, I launched straight into the THPS2. For those who don't remember, the first level of THPS2 is an airport hanger that starts you at the top of a ramp. I rolled down and ollied over a half pipe.
I was immediately knocked to the floor. Both in game and out.
I Love Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Somehow, in the months and months since this remake collection was announced, I'd forgotten that THPS2 was one of my favorite games. I adore it! The thing is, it's not something I was used to seeing look so good, because most of the time I spent playing THPS2 wasn't on a console. It was on the GameBoy Advance.
I'm four levels deep into Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on the Switch, and I'm absolutely loving it. The game looks and plays great on the Switch, and the short runs on the level feel great for picking up and playing for a few minutes. I've had a few framerate issues in levels, but they've been brief enough that it's never blown a combo.
And I can play it in handheld mode, which makes it that much better since the GBA version is what got me into THPS2 in the first place.
THPS 1+2 Isn't Perfect
The primary place where it feels like more care could have been taken in transitioning this collection to the Switch is in the menus. I know I've got old man eyes—I'm a 90s kid, remember?—but it still bums me out when a game dev doesn't make the text big enough to read easily in handheld mode. There are some spots on the menu that would be illegible to me on a Switch Lite.
Outside of that quibble, however, the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 collection feels like an absolutely perfect fit on the Nintendo Switch. It plays great, looks great, sounds great, and feels oh so very…great.
Playing on the TV is fine. But when compared to the Xbox, the Switch version can't visually compare. It doesn't look terrible as its own product, but if you’re going to play on a TV and want the prettiest visuals, this is not the version to pick up. For me, though, curling up into a weird pretzel on the couch and playing Tony Hawk on a Nintendo handheld just feels right.
This collection does a great job of updating the visuals of the original Tony Hawk games. Anyone who grew up on them will probably love revisiting them with this new look. There’s also a lot of extra challenges and stuff thrown in to push you past the fairly short campaign.
If you want to see the most of this game, though, you should look for it anywhere besides the Switch. But in terms of comfort and fun…the Switch has that in spades.
Once I finish up THPS2, I'm excited to play through the first game again in handheld mode since it just feels better. After that, I'll just have to hope that they are hard at work on a remake of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3… or maybe I'll just pick up the GBA version of that one!