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How Tony Hawko’s Pro skater changed the lives of some of the world’s greatest skaters

Rodney Mullen still remembers the first time he went on tour after appearing a Tony Hawko Pro Skater game.

Mullen is widely regarded as one of the most influential skaters of all time, featuring many tricks such as kickflip and 360 flip, which are now an integral part of the sport. He turned through when he was 13 and is now 53, which means he spent four decades perfecting his craft and lifting skateboards. But no one was prepared for what happened when he appeared Tony Hawko’s Pro Skater 2.

“They had to park me in the van because it was so intense,” Mullen says. “It simply came to our notice then me. And while I had a strong name out of all those previous years, it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was my first taste and it just went on. I couldn’t believe how the game affected me. “

THPS was not the first skateboard video game, but it was the most important. It wasn̵

7;t just digital sports, it was also a window into a growing subculture. In places, it was popular, but basically it was a faithful skateboarding sport – and not just because it accurately recreated the complex world of tricks. It also honored the skaters themselves like no previous game, and fashion and music have become an integral part of them. In September, two decades after the series debuted, the first two games will be repaired, passing on the experience to a whole new audience.

“It’s a time capsule,” says Mullen. “What makes skateboards special is still the same as pictured in the game.”

first THPS debuted in 1999. The PlayStation was created by a then-unknown (and built from shutters) studio called Neversoft. It looked like a quick smashing blow; it later sold millions of copies and was moved to the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast a year later. Hardly anyone working on the game imagined it would become a pop culture phenomenon that appeared. But for the skaters involved, it was an exciting opportunity from the start.

“I just remember it sounded surreal to me at first, especially when skateboarding was a video game that could be used on consoles around the world,” says skater Chad Muska. “It simply came to our notice then. I remember thinking, “Come on. Let’s do it. “It didn’t take long for Bucky Lasek to pass before he realized the project was turning into something special. “I can’t say I imagined he would blow up as much as he did,” he says. “But I could really see that we had achieved something. If this is something that is reported to me, I would imagine that other people will be stolen as well. “

Chadas Muska.
Photo: Activision

Musk believes that one of the key factors in the success of the game was time. In the early 1990s, skateboarding largely disappeared, with even the biggest names struggling to make ends meet. That changed later in the decade largely thanks to the X Games. The extreme sports demonstration began in 1994, was broadcast on ESPN, and developed a major appetite for skateboarding. Five years later, after 10 unsuccessful attempts at the X Games, Tony Hawk descended on the mythical 900 – trick, which spins about two and a half times. A scene was planned THPS. “At the same time, this video game is appearing, conveying that underground street culture in the life of every person in the world who had a video game console,” says Muska. “It was a household name during the night. Me was a household name. And everyone else in the game became household names because of it. “

Mullen has a slightly different perspective. Despite being one of the most influential people in skateboarding history, he didn’t excel in the first game. But Mullen and Hawk have a long history together. Together with the teenagers, they both skated in a group called the Bones Brigade, which included many of the most important professionals of the 1980s. 1989 Mullen left the band to sign with World Industries and managed to witness Hawk rise to the superstar from afar. He says he sometimes felt like an outsider, worried that other team members, including Vanaga, would appreciate him for leaving. He kept in touch, but there was distance.

Then I went out of nowhere on the trip and broke my ankle. I thought it happened for no reason and I needed a friend, ”Mullen recalls. “And few could relate to how Tony interacted. I overcame all that weirdness and straightened out. “Hi, man, I wanted to meet you because I don’t know if I’m going to continue. I don’t know if that’s a sign. I don’t know what happened. ” It was, “Really, let’s meet.” So, I met him on the crutches of the restaurant, saying, “Tony, what do you think that means?” And he said, “It means you’re hurt. It means nothing. Get well and skate again. And by the way: do you want to be in my game? ‘I was just disarmed that he would even take the time to stay with me, much less involved in the game. That’s how it all started. “

For those who were shown in those early days THPS games, the effects were direct and lasting. Muska says he remembers being recognized skating down the street and fans coming to Mullen airports to talk about the game. Even now, if you watch skate videos on YouTube or Instagram, many of the top comments point to THPS. Lasek says recognition continues to this day. “They don’t know me about the X Games gold medal, or about 30 years plus a professional skateboarder, or as a rally car driver,” he tells some fans. “They know me as a video game character. It still blew me away. “

Looking at it now, the skaters I’ve talked to say they’re proud of how early THPS The games represented a skateboarding culture for the main audience, whether it was the complex linguistics of trick names, the ingenuity needed for street skating, or the creation of a kick-ass soundtrack featuring Goldfinger and The Dead Kennedys. “It was a pure reflection of what we are about,” Mullen says. “And it gave me a real idea of ​​what we do in the world and why it’s so intrusive when you start a skater. Even if you are not good, you can still become addicted to mindset. It’s a way of looking at the world. ” Muska adds, “There are some embarrassing, funny, ridiculous things about the game, but I wouldn’t change them.”

Bucky Lasek.
Photo: Activision

Today, producing a new video game can be a huge task. In the presence of the remaster, the original participant from THPS was scanned to show their current similarities in the game, and the process included massive stands with high – end DSLRs capturing them from all angles. But with those original games, things were much more advanced. There were basic costume capture suits, and the creators filmed skaters performing tricks from various angles before picking their brains out of how things went.

Mullen remembers that there were times when he didn’t want to stop doing the tricks of these sessions, so the developers spent a few late evenings in the studio next to him. Occasionally cupcakes were included. However, he was most shocked by the concerns of the developers. “They delved into the nuance of everything I did,” he says. “The great attention to detail and the desire to do it faithfully and faithfully to the skateboard and showing that respect distracted me.”

Most of the future remaster looks faithful to the original games. It has updated graphics and some online features, but otherwise the experience itself remains the same. (By the way, the franchise ‘s disappointing last story, including THPS5means fans should still be careful.) However, one of the biggest changes is the addition of a fresh skater harvest: modern superstars such as Tyshawn Jones, Nyjah Huston, Leo Baker, Leticia Bufoni, Aori Nishimura, Lizzie Armanto and Shane. All of O’Neillas will be featured alongside the original actors. Even Tony’s son Riley – who was seven when the original THPS has come out and is now an experienced professional – will be played. Many of these skaters grew up playing games.

Muska says he is especially proud of the many people the games have helped inspire, as evidenced by the new selection of skaters. “It’s really great to see a variety of people, to see more girls, to see just everyone,” he says. Mullen adds that there is mutual respect between the generations, making this new feature special. “You can see it through their eyes,” he says. “I am amazed at what they are doing and they look at me like,‘ Oh god, you were in the game! ” Are you joking? I can’t believe where you took up skateboarding and now we play together. This connection, which has been established for 20 years, I hardly have words about how wonderful it is. “

Remastered collection Tony Hawko Pro Skater 1 and 2 is coming to Xbox One, PS4 and PC on September 4, more than 20 years after the series’ debut. A lot of things happened during that time. VHS videos have given way to Instagram, and video games have only become more entrenched in pop culture. On an individual level, Lasek has broadened his horizons to become a professional rally car driver, while Muska continues to explore art and fashion through the lens of skateboard culture. Mullen, meanwhile, still goes skating most nights, but he is also a Fellow at MIT Media Lab and has had several TED talks. Despite all these changes and the time spent, Mullen believes that these early games still represent skateboarding culture in a way that still needs to be replicated.

“Over time, nothing fascinates me more than knowing how I spent my talent, time and concentration. I am more proud to be a skateboarder than anyone else, ”he says. “THE Tony Vanagas The games captured the essence of figure skating in a pure and time-tested way, and they’re putting it out now that there’s a bigger window on skateboards in the world. There is no better representation of it. “

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