Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 remaster a 'labour of love' for developer Vicarious Visions

A beloved pair of classic video games from two decades ago are being remastered and released again in September as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2.

It'll feature the levels, characters, tricks and soundtrack of the old games with some added new features as well as the updated graphics and sound.

The original Tony Hawk games established one of the best-reviewed and highest-selling franchises of the early 2000s.

Jen Oneal, studio head at Vicarious Visions which is developing the upcoming game, says that's down to their tapping into the cultural zeitgeist.

"It captured everything about the era. The cool skaters, the music, the clothing - there weren't many games out there like that at the time," she tells Newshub.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 will be released on September 4 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
The original 1999 game and the 2020 remaster. Photo credit: Vicarious Visions / Activision

But she says the gameplay also helped the franchise become such a hit.

"In real life, it's hard to pop an ollie - but this game makes you feel like a skateboarding superhero," says Oneal.

"Your skills increase over time and next thing you know you're doing million-point combos and it's incredibly gratifying. You feel super accomplished when you nail difficult tricks."

Various other skating games have come out since the release of Tony Hawk - there's even a game called Skater XL from Easy Day Studios being released in New Zealand in July.

But the eponymous real-life pro skater is part of the original's appeal. Tony Hawk the man is heavily involved with the development of the new remaster and apparently hasn't lost any of his passion at age 52.

"If you go to his office, he's skating around the hallways there - a skateboard basically never leaves his feet," she says.

"He gives feedback not only as a skater but also as a good player who has been playing these games from the get-go. He's always being challenged by his fans to play against them so he's had to do well."

The original two games were already remastered by Robomodo as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD, which was released to mixed reviews in 2012. But Vicarious Visions ignored that and used only the actual 1999 and 2000 titles as the source of both inspiration and code for the new game.

"We went back into the old code from [original developer] Neversoft, grabbed the handling code that was there and updated it so it would go well with the modern animation system," says Oneal.

"The feel of the handling that you had in the originals and how precise it was is back in, because we had that source as a foundation."

The upcoming release also features the return of split-screen multiplayer, which was missing from the 2012 package.

"People do still like playing multiplayer beside each other on the couch, so we have that as a nostalgic nod to the original games that new players might find it a cool novelty. But modern gamers expect multiplayer to be online, so of course we've added that too."

The Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2020 remake / remaster's NZ release date is September 4.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 screenshot. Photo credit: Vicarious Visions / Activision

Of the new features, Oneal says her favourite is the ramped-up Create-A-Park.

"We've expanded it's capability so you can really deform the pieces and create your own amusement park. There's so many options for how to customise your park and you can share them online, play together in your own created spaces - plus people can take your park and tweak it to their liking and share that online, again."

People's proclivity these days to publish videos on Twitch and YouTube will make it very easy to check out how people are using Create-A-Park, too.

"I'm really excited to see what people make - partly to see crazy creations like big rollercoaster rails you can skate on, but also to see people replicate their local skate parks," says Oneal.

"I want to be able to type in 'Auckland', for example, and see local skate parks from Auckland recreated by fans in the game. I'd love to see that."

Oneal says the game was a "labour of love" for Vicarious Visions who are working hard to ensure it has "everything people would expect from a faithful remaster".

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 will be released on September 4 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.