Many skateboarders play video games, and vice versa, so it is only natural that there be many quality skateboarding video games on the market, both new and old. I believe that with the advent of new motion sensing technology, such as Natal, skateboarding games will have the potential to be become even more realistic– and that much more viable of a genre– but only time will tell if they do. Without further ado, here are what I believe to be the five best skateboarding games of all-time.
#1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 fixed the mistakes of the series’ first iteration– namely, by adding more tricks and customization– and went on to become on to become arguably the most successful skating video game of all-time, both critically and commercially. In the open-world game later ported to the Xbox, Game Boy Advance, and iPhone, players find missions for which they are paid upon successfully completing; that money can go on to be used for character, skill and skateboard upgrades. Receiving a perfect score from both Electronic Gaming Monthly and Game Informer, along with praise and recognition from other sites and publications, such as IGN and The Official Playstation Magazine, I would rank THPS 2 the best skating game ever. (Incidentally, considering that the game was released in 2000, the game also boasted quite an impressive soundtrack– it featured well-known artists including Bad Religion, Rage Against the Machine, and Naughty By Nature).
I know that I’m going to get a lot of flak for putting Skate over many of the other games in the THPS series, but I am big on innovation, and Skate was innovative– I credit it for reviving the skating genre, at least temporarily. Released in 2007– around the same time as relative flop Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground– Skate brought forward many unprecedented features for any video game, much less a skating game. For example, EA’s Skate Reel allowed players to record and edit short video clips of their gameplay, and analog sticks were used to perform tricks instead of buttons. The latter of features allowed players to pull off more tricks, and made the game more realistic– one had more control over their actions. The Xbox 360 version of Skate received a 9.0 from IGN and a perfect 5-star rating from Gamespy, so check it out if you haven’t played it before (even though it’s four years old).
#3. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
After THPS 2, the series’ third iteration was the best received– and perhaps the most successful critically, with nearly two and a half million copies sold. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 didn’t add all too much to the table– after all, its predecessor was stellar in execution as aforementioned– but by keeping the same formula and adding a few tweaks, such as trick refinement, it is one of the best skating games of all-time. (It should also be mentioned that it featured online gameplay, however rudimentary, the first Playstation 2 game to carry such a feature). Gamespot gave the game a perfect 10 score, and IGN dealt it a 9.7 out of 10.
#4. Thrasher: Skate and Destroy
Largely overlooked by consumers, Thrasher: Skate and Destroy was one of the first skateboarding games to employ realism in its formula– Thrasher was seminal to Skate, among other future games. That being said, the 1999 effort from Rockstar was a little too unforgiving at times, which deterred many players from playing it extensively, but it nonetheless remained much more advanced than THPS control-wise. With a bevy of two-player mini games, a solid soundtrack, unprecedented button mapping for specific tricks, and what IGN called the “first skateboard simulator”, one cannot use the game’s simple, hand-drawn graphics as a reason to not play it. The gameplay was– and still is– great.
#5. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
Recognizing that this is my third mention of the series in a list in which I planned to employ parity, I still cannot put another game in the original THPS’ place. The original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, released in 1999, started the Tony Hawk series which ran strong into the mid-2000’s– technically, the series stopped last year, but more recent games were not “strong” in my opinion. Most people know about the basic elements of the game, such as the inclusion of a career mode, trick combos, the mission-based objectives, and multiplayer, so I will give tidbits as to what you may not know. One thing that most fans might not know is that Tony Hawk and other professional skaters actually performed motion capture for the game. Most would assume that Tony provided audio for when his character spoke, but I assume few know that the game’s tricks were actually choreographed accurately. Nevertheless, THPS received a not-too-shabby 92 from review aggregator Metacritic, a score which foreshadowed the series’ future success.
Honorable Mention: Jet Set Radio Series
Jet Grind Radio and its sequel Jet Set Radio Future are among my favorite games of all-time, but I realize that they are not technically skateboarding games; they involve rollerblading, at best. That being said, with their great soundtracks, innovative gameplay, and gorgeous cel-shaded graphics, I would rank both games in my top five if my list involved any type of skating.
Daniel Steingold is a gamer and sports fan from Los Angeles, CA. Alongside said activities, he enjoys writing and reading, often doing the former on Yahoo! Contributor Network.