Tony Hawk has been an icon of both extreme sports and videogames, but even the world’s greatest skateboarder has some nasty bails mixed in with his epic tricks. Find out which of his moves were the best as we rank every Tony Hawk video game from worst to best!
Just over 16 years ago, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater transformed gaming on so many levels. It immediately solidified extreme sports as a viable genre, it made licensed soundtracks popular, it brought back the high score after years of shooters and sims, but most importantly, it married sports gaming with arcade-style fun in a way that clicked from the first kickflip. The initial half-decade’s worth of Tony Hawk games rank amongst the greatest games of all time, and some recent games have had serious high points, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater has had a few nasty spills in the franchise’s career.
Which of those originals is the best, though? And where exactly is the series nadir? That’s what Laser Time is here for. We’ve ranked every single Tony Hawk game that’s released on console since the franchise’s debut in 1999. From worst to best, here’s our Pro Skater picks.
15- Tony Hawk Ride
Has there been any franchise with a worse move to motion controls than Tony Hawk? Ride was released in 2009 when Activision couldn’t stop publishing games that came with an appalling amount of gaudy plastic accessories (they now publish Skylanders, which includes a modest amount of gaudy plastic accessories). While Guitar Hero was great fun and featured a responsive controller, Tony Hawk Ride was the exact opposite. It’s clumsy, boring, and by far the worst Tony Hawk game ever made.
14- Tony Hawk Shred
Tony Hawk Shred was a marked improvement over Ride, but that’s like saying the smell of a fart is a marked improvement over the smell of a turd; it still stinks anyway. Perhaps in an attempt to placate the tens of dozens of folks who kept their Tony Hawk Ride skateboard, Activision made a slight more responsive (but still unenjoyable) board-based game that focused more on snowboarding as Tony attempted a reverse Shaun White. Unfortunately, this game put the franchise in the red as it kept Tony Hawk games off store shelves for a half-decade.
13- Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam
There’s a reason the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series stopped using downhill levels after just one game; even at their best they’re frustrating, far too quick, and they can’t hold a candle to the series’ standard stages. Developed primarily as a Wii-exclusive entry, this one could never shake its gimmicky roots.
12- Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
The problems for Tony Hawk as a videogame franchise really started with American Wasteland. The debut effort for HD consoles was where the series showed its age with dated visuals, unremarkable advanced in gameplay, and a bland story. THAW’s biggest claim to fame was its abolishment of load screens, which was done by having boring hallways between each section of its open world. When “hallways” is your biggest selling point, it’s probably time to revisit the drawing board.
11- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5
We’ve put a few hours into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and, well, it’s not that good, to put it mildly. Sure, it approximates the feel of classic Tony Hawk closely enough, but annoying online load times, an obtuse career mode, extremely underwhelming graphics, and the worst soundtrack in franchise history may have been the final nail in this series’ coffin. The first numbered Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game in over a dozen years deserved far better than this.
10- Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
This game is a total THINO; Tony Hawk In Name Only. After the pleasant surprise that was the original Tony Hawk’s Underground, THUG 2 failed to add any major gameplay elements while the story went completely off the (grind)rails following the exploits of Bam Margera and company (including his obese, child-molesting uncle). There was also an increased reliance on non-skateboard vehicle, another drastic step away from what Tony Hawk game fans wanted.
9- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X
The OG Xbox touted an exclusive Tony Hawk game at launch, but when PlayStation 2 fans were enjoying (spoilers) the greatest skateboarding game of all time, Xbox owners had to subsist on reheated oldies with minimal garnish. Tony Hawk 2X combined the levels of the first two games with updated graphics and custom soundtrack support, but it wasn’t quite the masterful trick you’d expect. The original Tony Hawk level objectives were made super-simple with the addition of manuals, while the in-game tunes were taken from THPS2’s slightly less memorable tracklist. The worst trick, however, was the wait Xbox fans had to endure to finally get THPS3 months after Sony skaters had their fix.
Where does the only non-disc Tony Hawk console game land? How about the original? Find out where they rank on the next page!