The problems of today are far reaching. There isn’t anybody who isn’t being impacted by the goings-on of the day. War, pandemic, rising prices everywhere, it seems endless at times in scope and atrociousness. In 2004’s Marvel Punisher movie, at one point Frank Castle’s neighbor tells him, “Good memories can save your life.” She is trying to tell the horrifically traumatized Punisher to focus on the positive memories he has of his family, and his ability to make new happiness. Suggesting it could mean a very different life and outcome for him.
I played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater when it first came out in 1999 on the PlayStation, from developer Neversoft. Pure happiness, in an innovative new game with culture Midwestern kids like us had no idea existed. Ever since, I have played nearly every release. So, when Activision developers Vicarious Visions combined THPS 1+2 remasters in one game, I was very excited. Initially launching in 2020, I picked it up shortly after it was ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2021. Such sweet nostalgia. No humble touch-up, this remaster is a love note to everybody that played those games.
A game so simple led me into so many things. It has been a constant source of joy and catharsis even in moments where I felt blinded by my emotions, it has radically altered my musical and fashion tastes, and not least of all it introduced me to this wild thing called skateboarding. I haven’t skated much since developing heel issues, but in my youth it was a helpful way to vent, socialize and just have some fun. My favorite thing to do was always bomb hills, partially because I was never any good at tricks. The adrenaline rush was so powerful, thinking about it now I can almost hear the wheels and bearings roaring on the concrete beneath me. I can feel the dynamics of the board change as my speed increases.
The game has glimpses of intensity as well, when you’re deep into a high combo, or just about to complete a difficult objective with seconds remaining. Although, the moments that always keep me turning this game back on, long after completing the objectives, are the times where I am just idly free skating around the levels. Going for combos that satisfy me in style or point value, improvising on terrain, even simply enjoying traversing the rich arenas. Negativity fades away as I interact with these games.
The fact that I do not skate like I used to shouldn’t diminish the memories I have from when I did actively. It can be hard not to let new realities tarnish the past. Two of the best weeks I ever had in my life were spent with friends on a New Year’s trip to San Francisco. Many years later, one of those friends committed suicide. I never knew there was such sadness inside him, and it made me doubt every laugh we shared. Eventually, I had to accept that it was alright to remember those smiles fondly. If you analyze anything deeply enough, you’re bound to find blemishes. Sometimes you just need to let things be of their subjective resonance.
What it meant to you matters, because you matter. It is the principle that drives us to have tastes in art or anything. When you are in a restaurant, you order from the menu. You are far less likely to be as satisfied letting someone else order for you. So why would you let someone or something else desecrate your memories? If something has become a pillar of self-care, like the Tony Hawk games for me, I shouldn’t just stop playing them because of what is ultimately an irrelevant negative connotation. I played Tony Hawk games I didn’t like as much as others, I still keep playing new releases.
A lot of people might be eager to let all memories go when associations turn sour. It keeps us from having to struggle with contradiction, and helps us focus on the future. If you had a bad relationship, it can serve you to remember all the things you didn’t like; these things may completely overshadow any good. Yet, I would say you absolutely shouldn’t feel guilty for finding comfort in the storm.
Even when my mental health was in the gutter, I recall enjoying Tony Hawk games. When I was frustrated I found solace in succeeding in pulling off a huge combo. I can’t say I would’ve liked it so much if it weren’t for the polarization with other parts of my life. So does that influence mean I should stay away from skateboarding games, or by an extension of that logic all games? Of course not.
The power to live on making new choices, and assurances provided by the past. This is what good memories can do for us. It is important to remember you have joyous moments you haven’t yet lived. The THPS remasters blend everything that happy memories can do. Graphics and controls of the future, yet familiar levels and mechanics. Whether you have never played a THPS, or you played them all, you’ll feel right at home in this arcade style jam.
In times when going out and making some happy memories isn’t nearly anything easy, it is important we make the most of the moments that already live comfortably in our mind. If it helps you stay positive, engage in acts of nostalgia such as playing a game that has been there through the phases of your life. I’ve been playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater since I was ten years old, and I hope there are more releases to come. Whether new content or even more remasters of classic titles. Check out my review of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remastered in the Archives, and comment a game that lives rent-free in your head!
Credit: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remastered. Screenshots by me.