Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 arrived on Switch last month, giving everyone the chance to play through some of the most iconic levels in video game history. Much like the original Pro Skater, which arrived on the N64 a year after its PS1 release, Vicarious Visions’ remaster of the first two games in the series arrives on the Switch after releasing elsewhere. Managing to port one of the standout hits of 2020 to the Switch is nothing short of impressive.
Understandably, some cutbacks had to be made for the Switch. Thankfully, the core experience is the same as it was when it released elsewhere last year.
This is no half-baked port, everything is here.
In terms of gameplay features, nothing has been omitted for the Switch version and it is essentially the same title that we reviewed last year. All the modes, skaters, and courses are here. The Create-A-Skater is still lacking in customisation, though, and despite the Create-A-Park not having that many courses when I tried it out (the game isn’t cross-platform), I managed to try a few the community had created.
After playing through the tutorial, I found muscle memory I didn’t realise I had returning. It did take a while though—the first half an hour I found myself bailing after every other trick. But then, everything just sort of clicked. After chaining a few tricks together, I felt like I had gone from absolute rookie to… well, not the main Sk8er Boi himself, but something in between.
So, I created a pro skater who vaguely resembled me and hopped straight into Tour mode, ready to test my newly-remembered skills.
The tour begins.
For those new to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or the series in general, Tour sees you race against a timer to complete a list of goals. Each park sees you collecting S-K-A-T-E letters dotted around the park, or a specific collectible tied thematically to the level. These are never too difficult, with the biggest obstacle often being how to get all of them as quickly as possible. Since you only need to complete a goal once to tick it off the list, it’s not stressful or too difficult to find everything after a few runs.
Add in stat points to collect, tricks to perform at certain areas, and a hidden cassette tape to find in each park, and there’s enough to keep you busy for a while. Once you’ve completed enough goals, you can move onto to the next level.
There are also three scores to beat for each park, with increasing levels of difficulty. Competitions see you competing for the high score across three heats with AI skaters. The Tour levels challenged me and I didn’t mind that; I was under no illusions about my skill level in this game before going into it. It seemed every level I came across in the first game challenged me to learn something new.
Whether that was learning how to get more airtime to bridge the gap over a couple of buildings or how to perform a 5-0 grind on a water fountain, I came away from each park feeling a better skater. Every time something ambitious I tried went off, I felt like that was on me, and not the subtle lessons I was learning along the way.
The elephant in the room
Now, this version of the game doesn’t look anywhere near as good as those on the other platforms you can play it on. Performance is down on the Switch, with the frame rate locked at 30 FPS. The drop in graphical quality is more noticeable in docked mode rather than tablet or handheld. In a brief stint of local split-screen, it managed to maintain the frame rate. But at times, it looked like a game from a decade ago, not a year ago.
If I’m being honest though, I’m not surprised in the slightest. At no point from hearing the release announcement did I think it would look or perform anything like I’ve seen on other consoles. I fully expected the frame rate to drop to 30, and I expected local multiplayer to push the Switch as far as it could go. Approaching its 5th birthday next year, the Switch was underpowered compared to its rivals when it released. These weren’t surprises.
It’s the question that gets asked of all these games that come to Switch from other platforms: what’s more important, the portability the Switch offers or how good your game looks or runs? I’ve loved spending the last week just packing my Pro Controller with my console and taking it out with me or just popping it out of the dock to head downstairs. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is a game I could pick up in a year and just dive straight into.
Is it worth it on Switch?
I feel like I could spend hours not doing an awful lot. Enjoying enjoying how fun it feels to just roll around on four tiny wheels is enough. The core gameplay loop is so fun and satisfying, and Vicarious Visions have captured what made these two games so fun all those years ago.
There are some fantastic titles that have come to Switch from other platforms. I don’t really want to experience The Witcher 3 or Doom Eternal on this small a screen. But a quick burst of Hangar underneath my desk in a Teams meeting? Or trying to beat my top score on Venice whilst football is on in the background? The appeal feels like it’ll be there for a long time.
[A review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.]