Every Tony Hawks Pro Skater Game Ranked
Every Tony Hawks Pro Skater Game Ranked

Every Tony Hawks Pro Skater Game Ranked

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Steinberg
The Tony Hawk series has a lasting legacy that, unfortunately, includes just as many awful games as great ones! For this list, we'll be looking at every Tony Hawk console game released since 1999. Our list includes “Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD” (2012), “Tony Hawk's American Wasteland” (2005), “Tony Hawk's Project 8” (2006), “Tony Hawk's Pro Skater” (1999), “Tony Hawk's Underground” (2003) and more!

Script written by Nick Steinberg

Every THPS (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater) Game Ranked

Vert, Street … it’s all the same when you’re pretending you’re a Superman.Welcome to MojoPlays and today we’ll be ranking every Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game from worst to best.

For this list, we’ll be looking at every Tony Hawk console game released since 1999. While there have been some great handheld titles in the series — we’re looking at you, American Sk8land — we’ll only be ranking the mainline games developed by Neversoft and Robomodo.

“Tony Hawk: Ride” (2009)

After releasing nine games in less than a decade, Activision needed a new hook to keep the Tony Hawk series grinding along. In an attempt to replicate the success of its Guitar Hero games, Activision handed the Tony Hawk property over to new developer Robomodo. Their solution? An expensive skateboard peripheral that didn’t work! Tony Hawk: Ride was marketed on the idea that players would “put down the controller, step on the board, and feel the sensation of going big.” In reality, all they got was a buggy, ugly game with a $120 skateboard peripheral that didn’t even work properly with the software it was designed for. The Birdman himself would later claim that Ride was “a bit rushed”, but maybe a motion-controlled skateboarding game was just a bad idea to begin with.

“Tony Hawk: Shred” (2010)

Following the critical and commercial flop of Ride, you’d think Activision would have abandoned its failed motion control skateboard and gone back to basics. Instead, Robomodo was put right back to work on a direct sequel. Tony Hawk: Shred came out less than a year after Ride and admittedly, it was a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. The controls were tighter and a new snowboarding mode was a welcome addition. The problem was that Shred simply wasn’t as fun as any of the traditional Tony Hawk games. People didn’t want to stand on a fake board and play on-rails gameplay; they wanted to pull off crazy combos and chase high scores. Thankfully, dreadful sales figures convinced Activision to put the Tony Hawk series on hold and finally put an end to the motion control madness.

“Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam” (2006)

If “Downhill Jam” is your all-time favorite Tony Hawk level, this was the game for you! For everyone else, this was a franchise spinoff worth skipping. Inspired by the downhill racing stages from the original Pro Skater, Downhill Jam was a Wii launch title released in tandem with Neversoft’s Tony Hawk’s Project 8. The game was built entirely around racing levels, with players shooting for high scores and completing challenges on their way to the finish line. While a Tony Hawk racing game based around the Wii’s then-brand new motion controller was a no-brainer at the time, the execution left much to be desired. The racing structure offered a welcome change of pace from the core Tony Hawk titles, but the flimsy controls and wide array of technical issues make Downhill Jam more of a curiosity than an essential game in the series.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5” (2015)

Following a half-decade hiatus, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5’s back to basics approach seemed like it would finally return the franchise to respectability. Well, despite assurances from Tony Hawk that Robomodo had consulted with former Neversoft employees to ensure the game stayed true to the original Pro Skater titles, Pro Skater 5 ended up being a massive letdown. In addition to some truly awful bugs and glitches — the game was basically unplayable if you didn’t download the 8GB day one patch — the controls were floaty and imprecise, leading to gameplay that was somehow a step back from the earliest games in the series. While it was later revealed the game had been rushed so Activision could get it out before the license expired, this was little consolation to fans who had gotten their hopes up for a return to form from the Birdman.

“Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground” (2007)

By 2007, the Tony Hawk franchise was running on fumes. Making matters worse, EA’s Skate, released one month earlier, had pushed skateboarding games forward with its “flick it” control system and realistic physics. Unfortunately, Proving Ground ended up being more of the same at a time when the series desperately needed some fresh ideas. After nine games in as many years, Neversoft was reportedly burned out on the series and that fatigue definitely shows in the finished product. While new features like skater classes and an expansion of the “Nail the Trick” mechanic were welcome, they weren’t enough to separate Proving Ground from previous titles. Sadly, this would be series creator Neversoft’s final Tony Hawk game, as the studio was moved full-time to developing Guitar Hero and Call of Duty games before closing its doors in 2014.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” (2012)

Easily the best title from the Robomodo era, Pro Skater HD had the potential to be a return to form for a series that lost its way sometime in the late 2000s. A remake featuring classic levels from the early Tony Hawk games, Pro Skater HD’s biggest fault is that it feels like a half step at pretty much every turn. Rather than collect all of the content from Pro Skater 1 and 2, the game only features about half of those games’ levels. And thanks to licensing issues, only a handful of songs from the original soundtracks made the cut. While the addition of Pro Skater 3 levels via DLC added to the game’s value, Pro Skater HD was far from the ideal “best-of” collection this series deserved.

“Tony Hawk’s Project 8” (2006)

Although American Wasteland was ported to the Xbox 360, Project 8 was the first Tony Hawk game developed from the ground-up for seventh generation consoles. As a result, there was a noticeable bump up in visual fidelity (especially in the animation department), which helped give the impression that Project 8 was a true step forward for the series following its early 2000s heyday. However, outside of the impressive “Nail the Trick” mechanic, there wasn’t much here to differentiate it from previous games. The open-world environment was a noticeable step up from American Wasteland and the stripped down story mode was a welcome change from increasingly bloated titles such as Underground 2. Unfortunately, a glossy coat of next-gen paint couldn’t hide the fact the core gameplay loop was getting long in the tooth.

“Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland” (2005)

American Wasteland is definitively a middle-of-the-pack instalment in the franchise and really, that’s not such a bad thing when you look at some of the downright bad games to come out under the Tony Hawk license. Neversoft’s decision to focus more on the actual skating was a welcome change of pace after the increasingly zany Underground titles. Additionally, the ability to skate from one side of LA to the other was hard to turn down at the time (even though the game cheated a bit by disguising load times with boring tunnels). While some may criticize the game for being overstuffed, the return of old levels in Classic mode, the addition of BMX gameplay, and deep-as-ever creation modes make this one of the most feature-rich games in the series.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” (1999)

Released just as skateboarding was enjoying a cultural revival in the late 90s, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was not only a great proof of concept but a love letter to an entire subculture. Birthed from the ashes of a cancelled Bruce Willis shooter (no, we’re not making that up), the most remarkable thing about the original Pro Skater is how well it still plays today. Sure, you can’t pull off a manual or other mechanics introduced in later games, but Neversoft deserves a ton of praise for nailing its trick system right from day one. This is a game that laid the groundwork for other games to follow and as a result, there’s not a ton of reason to go back to it over more feature-rich Tony Hawk titles. Still, from the soundtrack to the level design, this is an important part of gaming history and a game that introduced skateboarding to a generation of young people.

“Tony Hawk’s Underground 2” (2004)

Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 is arguably the most divisive game in the series. Some fans love it, while others couldn’t stomach the move to a Jackass-inspired story mode. Although the game does lean a little too hard into prank-based gameplay and other hijinks, it was released at the tail end of the franchise’s “golden age”, as it were. As such, Neversoft had perfected the core gameplay mechanics, meaning THUG 2 is still one of the best-playing titles in the series. Seemingly recognizing that the story mode would turn some people off, Neversoft introduced a Classic Mode, which allowed players to tackle sets of challenges in traditional two-minute runs. In other words, the game essentially had two story modes, so whether you loved or hated Bam Margera, there was something for every Tony Hawk fan in Underground 2.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4” (2002)

Despite being one of the best games in the series, Pro Skater 4 all too often seems to get overlooked. This might have to do with the fact that, at first glance, the game feels like a retread of Pro Skater 3. While this is true to an extent, Pro Skater 4 deserves credit for its refinements, which includes overhauling the entire level format. Whereas the first three games limited players to two-minute runs, Pro Skater 4 allowed players to free roam around levels in story mode with no time limit. Challenges were now obtained from NPCs, letting players forge ahead at their own pace. Toss in the underrated spine transfer ability and a great set of new levels (shoutout to College and Alcatraz), and Pro Skater 4 easily stands as one of Tony Hawk’s finest outings.

“Tony Hawk’s Underground” (2003)

After four games that mostly followed the same design structure, Neversoft gave the series its first real overhaul with Tony Hawk’s Underground. Rather than taking a real-world pro skater through a series of challenges, THUG cast players as their own created skater in an honest-to-goodness story mode. While the game’s narrative was far from groundbreaking, following your character on his or her skater journey was surprisingly compelling (admittedly, the game’s delightfully devious villain Eric Sparrow does much of the heavy lifting). The game even let you get off the board for the first time; a controversial feature that allowed players a greater level of freedom when it came to exploration and setting up lines. Neversoft’s shakeup was just what the series needed at the time and was largely viewed as a resounding success, as Underground is arguably the last time the series was at the top of its game.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2” (2000)

To this day, Pro Skater 2 remains one of the greatest video game sequels ever made. It took everything that worked in the original and made it better, while also introducing the single most important gameplay innovation in franchise history. The addition of the manual opened up near limitless possibilities, as players could now link their combos across flat ground. Oh and that soundtrack? To this day, we can’t hear Lagwagon’s “May 16” without being transported back to taking the Leap of Faith in School II. This was also the first entry to introduce Create a Skater and the beloved Park Editor, both of which established Pro Skater as a series that prioritized user-created content. While the Xbox-exclusive Pro Skater 2X — which featured graphical improvements and a handful of new levels — can be rightly viewed as the definitive version, you couldn’t go wrong with any version of this groundbreaking game.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3” (2001)

If Neversoft had decided to end the Tony Hawk series after the third instalment, it would have been completely understandable. After all, how do you improve upon perfection? Hyperbole aside, Pro Skater 3 is the definitive Tony Hawk game. Released in fall 2001, Pro Skater 3 came out alongside such legendary titles as Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid 2, and a little game called Grand Theft Auto III. And it could go toe-to-toe with any of them. The jump from PS1 to PS2 allowed Neversoft to get more ambitious with its level design, adding things like NPCs and environmental triggers (who can forget setting off the earthquake in LA?). But it’s the revert that truly pushed Pro Skater 3 to new heights, as players could now link their vert and street tricks together. No Tony Hawk game before or since has clicked in quite the same way as Pro Skater 3 and for that reason, we have to declare it the best title in the series.