Tony Hawk Pro Skater star Steve Caballero tells hidden history of legendary game

A REMADE Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2 is finally coming to Nintendo Switch this month.

To celebrate the epic remaster coming to the console, we spoke to skateboarding legend Steve Caballero – who revealed what it’s like to be in the same game 20 years on.

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Steve Caballero is one of the world’s most famous skateboarders – and a video game superstarCredit: Activision

THPS 1 + 2 first came out in the late 1990s, and were smash-hits – bringing skateboarding to the fore.

Steve is a legendary pro skater who’s been pushing wood since the ‘70s, and was a mainstay of the second game, now returning for the remastered version.

It’s already out on consoles with stunning 4K graphics, and it’s about to land on the Nintendo Switch, letting fans play it on the move.

“It was a bigger procedure. There was a lot more into it,” Steve told The Sun, talking about helping to make the remastered game.

Steve, now 56, still skateboards today

Steve, now 56, still skateboards todayCredit: Activision

“I brought more clothes. The way that I was shot, going into this little sphere.

“There were a bunch of cameras shooting photos from different angles, with different expressions on my face.

“It definitely shows, the technology progress – it’s almost lifelike.”

Steve is a skateboarding legend, famous for inventing tricks (including the Caballerial) and setting wild vert-ramp records.

And he credits some of his later determination and success to the Tony Hawk games.

“It actually inspired me,” Steve, 56, revealed.

“When I got on the game in THPS 2, they were offering this feature where you complete the game and unlock each skateboarders’ video.

“I would go out and shoot stuff to make sure I had a great video at the end.

“So that actually motivated me to skate harder.”

Steve pictured doing a Method Air in Amsterdam in 1987

Steve pictured doing a Method Air in Amsterdam in 1987Credit: Wikimedia Commons: Archeo3 / Hans Lucas

Steve thinks the games helped skateboarding “progress to the next level”.

He’s not wrong: the games earned rave reviews, sold millions of copies, and likely inspired a generation of skaters to pick up their first board.

But it wasn’t just kids that the Tony Hawk games had hooked.

“It brought skateboarding into the homes, into the parents audience too,” Steve told us.

“The kids would play the game with the parents watching.

“Then I would meet these parents at events and they’d say ‘I know you’. My name became a household name.”

Graphics on the original game hardly compare to today’s 4K magic – but they were slick for the time

Graphics on the original game hardly compare to today’s 4K magic – but they were slick for the timeCredit: Activision

Part of the enduring legacy of the Tony Hawk games is their brilliant soundtracks.

Punk, hip-hop, metal are firm favourites through the franchise – and that’s no accident.

The soundtrack was inspired by choices from the featured skaters, to make it as authentic as possible.

“It was really cool that they allowed us to influence the game with the music we liked,” Steve revealed.

“I brought two bands on there: one was Millencolin from Sweden, and the other was Bodyjar from Australia.

“I got to include my old band The Faction in there as well.

“It’s neat to hear comments years later about how people discovered bands from THPS.”

Steve was snapped for the remastered game from every angle using a hi-tech camera array

Steve was snapped for the remastered game from every angle using a hi-tech camera arrayCredit: Activision

Getting on a Tony Hawk game was a huge privilege for a pro skater.

But it was also highly lucrative too, with skaters originally paid royalties.

The style of payouts has changed to a flat fee in the modern era, Steve says, but there’s still plenty of money and prestige to earned from an appearance in a Tony Hawk game.

“Back then, the money was really good too,” Steve said.

“I don’t think Activision really knew what they were getting into.

“When Tony came up with the whole royalty thing, and spread it out across the board, we made a lot of money.”

He continued: “It’s now a flat fee for being in the game.

“But obviously Activision says ‘hey, we want you in the game’, and it’s an honour to be in that game. It just adds to the legacy.

“Definitely it’s cool that Tony got some younger skaters and some female skaters this time.

“Obviously if you’re a pro skateboarder, it’s something to strive for.”

The remastered Tony Hawk games look lifelike at times

The remastered Tony Hawk games look lifelike at timesCredit: Activision

Part of the problem with any sort of “simulation” game is that it’ll never completely capture what you’re trying to recreate.

But Tony Hawk games get a lot right, says Steve, including one key element.

“The fact that it’s easy to fall off the board,” he says, praising the endless bails in Tony Hawk games.

“The balance has to be right. You have to land perfect or you fall off the board.

“Skating’s a very delicate issue. I’ve learned in my old age how technical and dangerous skateboarding really is.

“I recently got injured riding dirt bikes. It made me appreciate how gnarly skateboarding is.

“I’m a thrill seeker, that’s what I do.”

Steve’s modern likeness is much more convincing than the low-pixel ‘90s version

Steve’s modern likeness is much more convincing than the low-pixel ‘90s versionCredit: Activision

Skateboarding has had its ups and downs since its inception in the 1950s.

Steve has been on the scene for a huge part of that journey, and he says the change in skateboarding is obvious – and fantastic.

“I’ve been skating since around 1975,” Steve told us.

“If you wanted to ride, you’d go to a skateboard park that was privately owned – you’d pay to go.

“Fast-forward 40 years and there’s a skatepark in every city that’s free.

“There was maybe a couple of skateparks one here or there.

“And when those closed, we resorted to street skating and backyard pools, building our own ramps.

“It was growing again and being popular, then dying in the late ‘80s.

“But when the ‘90s came in and ‘95 the X-Games brought it to the next level.

“Tony Hawk was there and caught Activision in ‘99 with the first video game, and from the year 2000 I have not seen a decline.

“It’s just been rising. I have to attribute that to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater game – the video games and the X-Games.

“It really helped skateboarding become a mainstay, looked at as a legitimate sport that people can make a living from.”

Steve has been on the skating scene since the ‘70s – and has seen plenty change along the way

Steve has been on the skating scene since the ‘70s – and has seen plenty change along the wayCredit: Activision

Steve went on: “I’ve seen that progression and it’s truly amazing.

“I never would’ve thought I’d be in this position. I definitely feel blessed.

“I’m stoked to be a part of that whole ride.”

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is currently available on Windows, PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X and Series S. It’s available for the Nintendo Switch from June 25, 2021.

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Original Tony Hawk Pro Skater official trailer from 1999

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