They say that somewhere hidden deep within our brains are memories seemingly forgotten forever, and they say that the simplest of triggers such as words, an image, sound or music can trigger those lost memories.  Music for me is one of the most powerful triggers to unlock lost memories; sure I have fond memories of the original Tony Hawks Pro Skater on the original PlayStation from 1999, from the opening Warehouse level, to the School, Mall and more, there are so many favourites from this classic that I will never forget.

However, as I loaded up Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1+2 for the very first time, as the game presented itself into the main menu, the song “Superman” from the band Goldfinger began to play, and I was instantly thrown back more than 20 years into my friends living room of when we used to spend countless hours trying our best to perfect this great game.  This is a game that combines both the 1999 original and its 2000 sequel.  You’ll play all the levels you remember, with both THPS and THPS2’s levels being split into two tabs, representing each classic game.  As you progress and complete in-level rewards, you’ll unlock new levels for each respective game.  However, there is a third tab that gives you access to all levels from both games, to practice you moves to take back into the main game with progression.

In recent years we’ve seen plenty of remasters and remakes, and while much of those relived classics can be an amazing experience, nostalgia can also play tricks on the mind, because we can often see past memories through rose tinted glasses, which can cloud our judgement.  Going into Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1+2, it would be wise to be sceptical, especially after the release of Tony Hawks 5 from 2015, which seemed to be a cash-grab in almost every sense of the word, and it would have been easy for these remade classics to fall into the same trap.  Thankfully, Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1+2 has not only avoided the nostalgia trap, but its arguably become one of the best games in recent years, certainly this year and dare I say it, this amazing remake might just be better than the originals!

The build-up leading to release, I saw on more than one occasion THPS1+2 was being dubbed as a remaster, but this is far from it as I would easily consider this to be a remake in just about every sense of the word.  Sure it has retained much of the fantastic, addictive gameplay and controls from the first two original games, but it’s also updated controls from later games in the series.  If anything, in my personal opinion, the gameplay in THPS1+2 feels closer to the two Tony Hawks Underground games and American Wasteland, only with modern tweaks that would make the gameplay experience feel that little more smooth, as well as implementing tricks such as the Wall Plant, Revert and Spine Transfer.

Back in the day, I would have considered myself to be quite good at this game and I would rack up high combos and scores, as if it was second nature.  I stayed well away from Tony Hawks Pro Skater 5, and for good reason, and the last time that I indulged in this series was American Wasteland on the Xbox 360 from 2005, so it’s fair to say that it has been a while and I am most certainly out of practice.  So going back into THPS1+2, I felt like a complete n00b.  Tricks were hard to come by, I fail in any attempt of retaining the kind of combo scores that became second nature and in truth, I began to quickly become frustrated with this game.  But yet, I refused to give up.  No matter how many times my in-game avatar would fall on his backside, I wanted to keep going, aiming for a somewhat respectable score.

Don’t get me wrong, at the time of writing, my scores and combos still suck, but I know that I’m getting better and there’s something about the nature of the gameplay that has you continuing to want to do better.  Not necessarily to beat certain scores, because you know with further practice, you can and will do better.  So when you combine the superb gameplay that keeps you coming back for more, the desire to do better, THPS1+2 is a game that can feel damn near impossible to put down.  When you finally pull off that trick or acquire that seemingly out-of-reach collectible to tick-off the objectives for each stage, this is easily one of the most satisfying games that I’ve ever played, just as it was back in 1999, but yet this remake feels so fresh for the modern era.

Aside from the fantastic, refined gameplay, THPS1+2 looks visually impressive and considering that speed that can be picked up at a fast pace, the game runs incredibly smooth and I can’t ever remember encountering any form of slowdown.  This game also has a very impressive create feature.  For starters you can play as a number of the real-world skaters, including the main man himself.  The more you skate with a certain character; you’ll earn points to level them up.  You can also create your own skater to level-up and they’ll be cosmetics to purchase via the in-game shop to make them look all fancy with clothing, accessories and new skateboards.  At least at the time of writing, all currency is earned in-game and there are no microtransactions in THPS1+2.  You can also create your own park, which is quite in-depth and there are already some impressive user created parks that you can play.  Additionally, as with cosmetic items for your created character, you can purchase new items via the in-game shop for your Create-a-Park, with more items unlocking as you level-up.

As with the original two games, THPS1+2 features an amazing soundtrack, combing classic tunes from the 80’s, 90’s and some modern tracks to offer just about something for everyone.  Heck, there are even songs that I’ve never heard before and just as they did back in the day, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is still introducing me to artists that I never knew existed until now.  Oh, and I must say that it was previously reported that some songs from the original games, haven’t made their way into this remake.  Which in the most part is true, but there are some songs included here that were initially reported as missing.

For example, THPS1+2 does include “Bring the Noise” (Anthrax & Public Enemy), as well as “Screamer/Nothing to Me” (Speedealer) and “Cyco Vision” (Suicidal Tendencies).  However, it does appear at the time of writing that “Committed” (Unsane), “Out with the Old” (Alley Life) and “B-Boy Document ‘99” (The High & Mighty, Mos Def and Mad Skillz) are all missing, likely due to licensing issues.  It’s also worth mentioning that the environment sounds such as the skateboard wheels, the sound of grinding and landing from a half-pipe are as oddly therapeutic as you might remember.

As we draw to the end of this console generation, we have been spoilt for choice with some truly amazing games over the years, games that very much defined a generation.  Perhaps games that are very story driven, with moments that will have you thinking about for years to come.  But in this day and age, where story and settings can very much be the focus with of course, some fantastic gameplay thrown into the mix.  Its perhaps not that often that a game can also define a genre, mostly based upon pure gameplay.

Back in 1999 and 2000, that is exactly what the Tony Hawks Pro Skater series did.  They were games with amazing gameplay moments with an equally amazing soundtrack and in an age where its possibly more difficult to standout more than ever, based upon pure gameplay, here comes Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1+2, which not only reignites a series that is defining a generation once more, but it’s also brining in new fans into a remake that arguably surpasses the originals in almost every way, which is no easy task.  Simply put, this is a prime example of how a remake should be done and I can hand-on-heart say, that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+ 2 is one of this generation’s best!