8- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD isn’t quite a remaster, and it isn’t quite a remake, and it isn’t quite appealing enough to reach the upper echelon of Tony Hawk games. Sure, Robomodo got the feel of Tony Hawk down and made a nice mix of levels from the first two games, but the lack of several classic stages and tunes doesn’t make up for the neat additions (like Exploding Head mode).
7 – Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
On paper, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground has some seriously substantial additions; the single-player mode defines your character by their skating type and the “nail-a-trick” feature of Project 8 was expanded upon with “nail-a-grab” and “nail-a-manual.” Unfortunately, the skater class types were too much of deviation from the standard skating experience fans had grown to love, while the new “nail-a” moves were not as groundbreaking as Project 8’s addition. After THP8 reinvented the wheel, Proving Ground hit a major bump in the road.
6 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
After Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, Activision instituted some pretty major changes in almost every new iteration. On one hand, it was necessary, as THPS 4’s new additions (spine transfers and skitching) were hardly impressive when put up against the seismic shifts that the manual and revert added to the two previous sequels. On the other hand, THPS 4 was the last game in quite some time to stay bolted to the board and focused solely on arcade action instead of weird stories.
5 – Tony Hawk’s Underground
Tony Hawk games and story usually don’t mix. Usually. Tony Hawk’s Underground was the rare exception, as the simple-yet-effective story of skating fame and jealousy made the journey through THUG’s well-designed stages a fun romp. What other extreme sports game has a final boss battle where you have to tail (and out-do) your ex-friend as he attempts the world’s longest grind?
4- Tony Hawk’s Project 8
After Tony Hawk’ American Wasteland, Activision needed a big reinvention, which Project 8 delivered in spades. With a visual upgrade worthy of high-definition and a grittier style the eschewed the goofier stories of recent iterations THP8 was already a marked improvement over its predecessor, but the nail-a-trick feature was the biggest (and best) addition to the series since the revert. It’s a shame it was only put to use in this game and its immediate successor – nail-a-trick had the potential to make a big impact on the franchise as a whole.
3 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Here we have the upper-echelon of Tony Hawk games, where the skateboarding sims go from “great” to “transformative.” The addition of the manual made trick-linking possible and infinitely increased the risk-versus-reward factor when it came to continuing tricks. No longer did you need to find an infinite grind loop somewhere within a stage; the manual could bridge the gap between non-grab tricks and made paths through each level limitless. Combine that with perhaps the best stages in franchise history and a pretty good soundtrack, and you’ve got an undeniable classic.
2 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
It’s really astonishing how Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out of nowhere to revolutionize gaming in 1999. While there had been skateboarding games before, nothing was as approachable, replayable, and reflective of skateboarding culture as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It made skating popular, it made the music on its soundtrack popular, and it made the PlayStation (even more) popular. Even without the great additions of the next two games, the original’s skating is still a blast, and while the downhill levels are a far cry from the unforgettable standard stages, they at least add a certain flair unique to the Birdman’s first ever game.
1 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
And now, the apex of skateboarding video games and one of the finest interactive experiences ever pressed to a disc. You’ve got great levels on par with the classics from the first two Tony Hawk games, but the addition of the revert made the entire world your skatepark. With the ability to keep a combo going after both of the core trick types now available, THPS3 brought the skill, risk, and reward for tricky skating to its pinnacle. This was also the first Tony Hawk game to feature online play, and you can bet that many a PS2 owner plunked down some cash for the Network Adaptor just to skate alongside some friends. Tony Hawk 3 was nothing less than extreme sports perfected.
What do you think of our rankings? What’s your most underrated (and overrated) Tony Hawk title? Sound off below!