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!
23 thoughts on “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Series – Ranking Every Console Tony Hawk Game From Worst To Best”
I’m not going to disagree with the top three, though I would replace 2 with 4 because I didn’t play the 2nd game. Also, I’m glad to see Project 8 ranked so high as it is probably my favorite in the series.
However, I do take umbrage with THUG 2 ranking lower than the the original THUG. I enjoyed THUG, but I felt it was lacking, something, a feeling I had while playing the previous games. Its kinda hard to explain but overall, THUG was good, but not as great as 1-3.
THUG 2 did a lot for me. I know opinion of the game depends on how accepting one is of Jackass & Bam Margera’s antics, but that game was an absolute blast. I loved the story and humor, the levels were great, the stylized graphics were awesome, and the soundtrack was top notch.
Also wanted to add that American Wasteland is my least favorite in the series. I hated that I couldn’t create a female skater, the story was not interesting, the soundtrack didn’t match the quality of previous games, and LA was boring to skate around. THPS HD
was disappointing. The physics didn’t feel right, and was a worse game because of it. It also didn’t help that the PC port was garbage.
It’s sad to see THPS 5 being in the state that it is in. I was looking forward to it, hoping it would be a proper revival of one of my favorite series ever, and bring back a niche of games that I miss.
I honestly can’t believe Ride ever saw the light of day. I’m not skateboarder but I know that you need the forward moving force in order to do anything. How would that work with a plastic board. Secondly, why the hell wouldn’t you just go skateboarding? Guitar Hero was fun because it was a much less complicated version of playing the guitar. I fail to see why anyone would buy Ride instead of just going outside with an actual skateboard.
I dug a lot of TH games, but the 2 I got the most playtime out of were THPS 2 and THUG 2. I know the latter isn’t popular with a lot of fans, but since I skipped a few entries, it was a lot of new stuff that was really interesting (manuals, reverts, etc.). Also, because I was a dumb teenager when I played it, I enjoyed the story mode. *hides face in shame for all eternity*
Thos are my top 2 for sure too
3 had the best soundtrack by far.
I still don’t think it’s a great game, but I would’ve ranked Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland a little higher. Yes, the story was dumb and the claims of one big open-world city to skate around in were a complete lie, but it also brought the focus back onto skating. The first THUG was alright, but it (and especially its sequel) lost focus, and you spend almost as much time pulling off dumb missions on foot or driving poorly programmed cars around as you do skating. The THUG games are the Tony Hawk equivalent of Sonic Adventure: all you want to do is the one thing the series is famous for, but it keeps forcing you to try out these new styles of gameplay that are half as fun as the old stuff. American Wasteland still definitely has problems, but it at least had the good sense to keep you on a skateboard most of the time.
I’m amazed Project 8 is that high, as I thought the series ran out of vitality by then. I’ll have to track it down sometime then, but I’m glad Dave put 3 as number one. There was something grimly hilarious I found about the suburb stage in 3 where you got a “squirrel stew” bonus if you ran over one of the photorealistic squirrels scurrying over the stage. I think squirrels are adorable and I’d never dream of actually harming them, but I respect a game that has the audacity to reward you for animal cruelty.
Nice list; though, American Wasteland worse than THPS5? You’re kidding!
Some of the best times I ever had was tuning to Love Line, taking some “California medicine” and playing THPS 4 for hours on end. The fourth Tony Hawk may be my favorite, but 3 is definitely the best. Tighter focus, better music and way more interesting levels, if you haven’t played it and still own a PS2 (hell, I remember the gba version being pretty good) pick that shit up. It’s like a buck fifty or something
I still think THPS2, and by extenstion THPS2X are the best ones, followed by Underground, then THPS3 & 4.
And no love for the GBA Tony Hawk games!? Those were pretty fun! 😛
Also I’m not so sure about Tony Hawk HD…played the demo and the physics felt way off for a Tony Hawk game.
It was made by a different company, not neversof. And yward later. It’s shite.
I definitely believe 4 was the best one. 3 was great but, and I’m going off of memory here, the levels seemed smaller than 2 because of the jump to a new system. 4 had huge levels and got rid of the timed runs of the first 3 games. I would just skate around and if I decided to do a mission I didn’t have to exit out of the stage. I played every one from 1 to American Wasteland even the N64 versions which looked better but sounded baaad. It’s amazing how I never grew tired of the series and then when they jumped to PS3 I just forgot about them. I would like to try Project 8 and Proving Ground someday.
One other thing to note was I loved the DS version of American Wastland. Proving Ground on the DS was alright but looked like shit. American Wasteland had a cell shaded look and a different story than the console version (it even had a slightly different name, American Sk8land) and played great. It worked really well on the DS.
You also should do a list of Tony Hawk rip-off games. Disney Extreme Skate Adventure was a great game.
“… and the worst soundtrack in franchise history” -from the THPS5 segment.
LOL. I just found out that a band I used to play in is on the soundtrack. Sure, I’m a little jealous, but I aint defending them.
I can agree with most of the list but I wouldn’t have rated 2X and THUG2 so low. 2X is essentially an improved version of the first two games so while I can understand not rating it as high as those games due to a few nitpicks, I think it should at least be fairly close to them on the list. THUG2 did have a stupid career mode with tons of bullshit but it also introduced Classic Mode which lets you play through all of the levels THPS-style without any of that bullshit. I think it deserves to be higher on the list for that mode alone.
One thing I have to commend you for is for putting American Wasteland so low on the list. Many people give it undue praise for being a “return to form” with its focus on skating. Even if that were true it doesn’t stop the levels, missions, and soundtrack from being shit. Even Classic Mode sucked in that game.
American Wasteland is hilarious to play! You use skate tricks to steal everything in LA and build your own garbage park that would never work. I do agree on Pro Skater 3. The levels were expansive, the challenges were clever and the secret characters! Darth Maul and Wolverine shredding it up!
I loved American Wasteland, it felt a lot like the older games to me, but I only played the GameCube version—maybe that’s why? I never even knew there was an HD version, but I’m betting it was pretty buggy, as even Project 8 was kind of a mess on the HD consoles. 4 will always be my favorite, I like the open-level format a lot more than timed runs. It blew my mind as a kid, and I was already a huge fan of the first three games.
Hell yeah! I just picked up Pro Skater 3 for 2 bucks, along with the Sims 1 Deluxe for $1.50. Time for some nostalgic gaming.
Thps 5 over thaw have you never played a thps game until you reviewed them
The Capture the Flag in THPS3 was incredible. In fact, I found this article because I was looking for the latest THPS available to play. And to find out if any of the latest versions were worth it. (THPS3 is difficult to get running on Windows 10 with modern controllers.) I know people still play THPS3.