Those that played video games in the late 1990s and early 2000s know how special the "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" franchise was. Gamers across the country played the 'Tony Hawk' games, and, outside of the video game world, they had a massive impact on the popularity of skateboarding in general. Fast forward 21 years later, and the franchise is once again at the front of the gaming world. Friday saw the release of a remastered version of the first two games in the series: "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2."
How'd this manage to happen over two decades after the release of the first game? The passion of the fans, according to Tony Hawk.
"I want the original fans to appreciate and feel the same sort of exhilaration that they felt when they played the first series," Hawk told CBS Sports. "And for a new generation to be introduced to it and to hopefully feel that same energy even though they haven't played the original series. I do believe that the hardcore fans are the ones that will resonate and be the most excited for it."
The original "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" was released in 1999, and fans still want to play it.
"I think a lot of people associate it with their youth and something that introduced them to skateboarding and skate culture," Hawk added. "I feel like a lot of people would say 'This changed my perspective of how I wanted to live or the kind of music I wanted to listen to, or the kind of culture I wanted to participate in.' I don't take that for granted at all. I'm very thankful that this opened up new doors for people."
The new, remastered version of the franchise focuses on "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" and "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2." Gamers can play all of the same levels that they played in the past and do many of the same objectives too, such as collecting the S-K-A-T-E letters and finding the secret tape on each map.
While the objectives and the overall goals of the game haven't changed, video game graphics have certainly come a long way in the last 20 years. Fans will be able to experience the world of skateboarding -- and nostalgia -- like never before.
"The technology has come so far since the first game was released," Hawk said. "The possibilities are so much bigger for what we can include and how we can present it. Honestly, it was the fans. They were very persistent about wanting to see these remasters for the last 10 years."
Skateboarding was still somewhat niche when the first game came out. The average person wasn't all that interested in the sport or the culture that surrounded it, unless you actually skateboarded. The "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" franchise changed all of that for the better, according to Hawk:
"I think that it introduced a new generation to skating. I also think that it helped a non-skating public to appreciate it more, which was something that had never really happened before. Before the game, the only people who enjoyed skating or appreciated it was skaters themselves. I feel like it started to create a fanbase for skating. They enjoyed watched it and understood the nuances of it, but didn't necessarily want to participate in it."
When the games were gaining popularity, it was a perfect storm for the sport. The generation that grew up on the "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" games learned about skateboarding culture and some of the biggest names in the sport at the time. Meanwhile, the X Games were getting popular. That gave fans of the game the opportunity to see some of the players that were in the video game, like Bob Burnquist, Rune Glifberg, Bucky Lasek and Hawk himself, skate live in person or on TV.
With the release of "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2," the skaters from the original game are there, but there's also a new crop of skaters mixed in. It shows how much the sport has grown -- with the help of the video games. In fact, Hawk's son, Riley Hawk, appears in the new game along with Shane O'Neill, Tyshawn Jones, and Leo Baker, amongst others.
So in a special way, "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2" provides a trip down memory lane for those who grew up with the original games, but it also highlights a new generation of skaters so. In a way, it is helping the sport grow the same way the original game did 20 years ago.
"I feel like there's a generation of skaters that would much rather see my son, Riley, in it than me. I think that's a testament to his success and to his following," Hawk said. "I think it was appropriate to bring in a new generation of characters to the game as well as the original roster."