It is not one of the names most cited by players, nor the founding series of video games. This is no longer a saga for which the next iterations with importance are awaited. And yet: on the Metacritic site, the series of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is very well placed in the list of the best video games of all time. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is even second on this list, surpassed only by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
The publisher Activision was right, by announcing a new version of these two legendary skateboard games. They will be compiled into a single title planned for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for September 4: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2.
How to explain the incredible popularity of this license? To find out, we must ask the players of the time, those who discovered, in 1999 and 2000, these two titles to which is devoted a discreet cult. At its output, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater has the distinction of being a “real” skateboarding game, a sandbox giving the opportunity to multiply the figures in a skatepark. This is a real novelty: the few 3D skate games were, before that, generally racing games.
“It was brand new”
“For me, he was the ancestor of GTA 3 : we walk around, we can interact with all the available space, we discover objectives that unlock other spaces. It was brand new “, recalls Jean-Fred Diebold, one of the many players we interviewed on Twitter. Many of them describe open levels full of secrets and extol the feeling of freedom that comes from it.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater has, moreover, the good taste to reproduce certain existing skateparks, such as the bowl of Marseille. What makes it possible to be able to say, by visiting in reality the skateparks of Venice Beach in Los Angeles, “I skated here”, laughs Laura Fournier, who works in communication. Neversoft studio game, future creator of the series Guitar Hero, also had the advantage of being easy to handle. “Come to think of it, I don’t even remember learning to play it”, sums up Philippe Gargov.
We could quickly chain “Mega-combos with 9 slides, 8 manuals and 37 flips” and let yourself be carried away by the impression “Of flow, of flight, of fluidity, of flow almost” – while doing the game figures on a real skateboard was much more dangerous. Mikael Moreau retains this “The impression of being a god of skateboarding, that the player and the game are one”. Rémi Balek also remembers “The pain felt almost physically when you fart your mouth virtually”.
“Finally, we had a game that represented street and skate culture with its musical world of rock, punk, ska. It was crazy, “remembers Valentin Lormeau
Sensations aided by the realism of the jumps and tricks, supervised, at the time, by Tony Hawk himself, then one of the stars of skateboarding most in sight. In addition to giving its name to the game, it validated its animations and sensations by working directly with the developers, as recalled on the site JeuxVideo.com, based on the memories of Tony Hawk entrusted to Guardian in 2019.
Result: “We spent the afternoon there drinking Coke and chatting”, says FrancisBarWain. Haieby also remembers sessions with his friends where the controller passed from hand to hand “To try to score as much as possible”. “We changed our cards every day”, he says, while remembering “The notoriety of a friend in my little college who scored better than the 3e “.
“A cultural object that falls at the perfect time”
Because Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was mostly the game of an era: the late 1990s. “We all had baggys and skate pumps, we listened to Avril Lavigne and we talked about MTV, we had known [le jeu vidéo développé par Electronic Arts] Skate or Die! “, remembers Barney. The game was “A cultural object that falls at the perfect moment, that completely captures [l’air du temps] from that time, OMLT analysis. Californian rock, skateboard culture, teen audience targeted by the PlayStation: I think it’s a whole, at the perfect time. “
In the universe either very wise or very outrageous of video games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater then has a very real scent of revolt. “At my friends, it was that or FIFA. I didn’t like FIFA “, summarizes, lapidary, the developer Pierre Corbinais. “We finally had a game that represented street and skate culture with its musical world of rock, punk, ska, remembers Valentin Lormeau. It was crazy. We were big consumers of MTV, [l’émission américaine] Jackass, and there, suddenly, you can play with Bam Margera, customize your skateboard and do big tricks in 3D arenas while listening Superman by Goldfinger, with the clip broadcast on a screen. “
The game was, in fact, also a formidable jukebox, capable of linking up the punk rock songs which were to become classics, when they weren’t already. “No other game had punk rock as we liked it”, regrets Toothpick. With Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, little budding punks were served: Dead Kennedys, Ramones, AC / DC….
“It’s like a skatepark, actually”, abounds the journalist Nicolas Turcev – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater having given some people the impression of setting foot in the backyard of “cool kids” without hurting their knees. “You could make the girls believe you were a skateboarder.” Well, in my case, it didn’t work, but I knew what it meant, a “holy flip” “, says Philippe Monthaye. ” After spending an hour at the ruined city skatepark, try a grind no one, having fallen eight times, we would come home and spend hours on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Because we were too bad, actually. “, sums up Foulk.