Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

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The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series is a line of skateboarding video games published by Activision, and one of the first to feature the likenesses of professional skaters such as the titular Birdman himself, Tony Hawk.

The first few games in the series gave the player a two-minute time limit to score as many points as possible by stringing together grabs, flip tricks, and grinds. Scoring enough points and completing enough objectives (such as grinding a particular rail or jumping over a specified gap) will unlock a new course for the player to skate on. Many of the skate parks in the series are modeled after real locations, such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Beginning with the fourth game, the levels were expanded greatly, and the two-minute timer was eliminated (except for particular challenges). Beginning with the fifth game, storylines were added for single-player mode which were of surprisingly good quality.

The series has generated twenty entries on multiple platforms, with at least one new game released every year since the franchise's launch from 1999 to 2010. It also released several spinoffs across multiple consoles, handheld and mobile devices. While almost all of the games in the series were produced by Activision, Tony Hawk's Skate Jam marked the sole Tony Hawk-branded game to be developed and published by a different company; it was later updated as simply Skate Jam without the Hawk license.

Pro Skater Series

  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999): Originally launched on the PlayStation (later for Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Game Boy Color and even the Nokia N-Gage), this was the first game in the series, featuring very few skateboarders (10, plus two secrets), a handful of basic levels, and reached critical acclaim for its unique use of combos, something previously only seen in beat 'em ups.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (2000): The first sequel improved numerous things, and added customization to the mix (Create-A-Skater and Create-A-Park), which would become a staple of the series. Also included the manual, the first trick to link types of tricks together into much longer chains. This installment may be the one released on the most consoles: it came out on the PSX, N64, PC, and Mac; re-released later on the Dreamcast and Xbox with improved graphics and some new levels; got handheld versions on GBC and GBA; and finally got re-relased again on the iPhone in 2010. In addition, a specially localised edition of the game was released exclusively in South Korea, with members of the K Pop group Fin.K.L (핑클) added to the roster, along with songs from said group.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (2001): The first game designed for the sixth generation of consoles - PS2, GameCube and Xbox. The PlayStation 2's first game with online play, while at the same time the final N64 game for the Western market, and thus had much graphical improvement. It remains as one of the highest scored games on the PlayStation 2. Amongst the new features was the Revert, a trick that could be linked from a halfpipe to a manual allowing for potentially infinite combos.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (2002): The fourth game with the Pro Skater moniker, and often considered to not be as superior as the third due to its Obvious Beta status. Goals were no longer stuck in the two minute format, with the levels now opened to be explored freely, and attempted in roughly any order. Introduced spine transfers where the skater can flip from one side of a quarter pipe to another facing the opposite direction.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 (2015): The fifth numbered game in the Pro Skater sub-series, and is widely considered to be the series' nadir no thanks to its Christmas Rushed production as an Ashcan Copy: Activision's licensing deal with Hawk was due to expire by the end of 2015, and so they ordered at least one final game to be churned out in due time with little regard to quality, which very much shows in its dated visuals, broken mechanics and a litany of technical issues - in fact, they had to issue an 8GB day-one patch as the game only shipped with the tutorial and park creator upon its release. This served as Robomondo's swansong as they went out of business soon after; not helping matters was their previous track record with the series, none of which was received positively.

Underground Series

  • Tony Hawk's Underground (2003): Introduced walking as well as extensive customization for skaters, levels, decks and goals. Also contained an actual story, which centered around the player character trying to make it big as a pro. Also added wallplants and hidden double-tap versions of most tricks. Included vehicles to the mix, which disappeared as quickly as they arrived.
  • Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (2004): Followed the story of THUG seeing the player character travel around the world competing in a "World Destruction Tour". Was heavily influenced by Jackass, featuring several of the cast as playable characters (complete with Bam Margera as one of the main characters). Received a PSP version with new levels that later appeared in THAW.

Final Series

  • Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (2005): Featured a "full world" (well, only the city of Los Angeles, at least) with level loading screens masked by empty corridors with very little to do in them. Toned down some of the Jackass style humour of THUG2, and added BMX bikes into the mix as well as Mat Hoffmann. This received a hasty Xbox 360 port. The redesigned classic levels are considered particularly good, however. Was either the last 'classic' Tony Hawk's game, or a sign of worse to come, depending who you asked. Also, for unknown reasons, you can't play as a female in story mode.
  • Tony Hawk's Project 8 (2006): The first game released for the Xbox360 and Play Station 3, containing a fully integrated city, a physics overhaul, and the "Nail The Trick" Mode which changed the controls from being pressing one button and a direction at any point, to timing the flick and direction of analogue sticks to hit the board just right so you didn't bail. Received a PlayStation 2 port, even though it was not ported to the Wii due to claims the Wii could not handle the game.
  • Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (2007): Possibly the second Tony Hawk's game on the most consoles appearing on the PlayStation 2 and Wii in a stripped down form, Play Station 3 and Xbox360 in full form, and on the DS in a port by the people who made the PSOne version of THPS4. The home console versions were arguably the most ambitious of the series, with a large sandbox area and various cities to skate between. In addition the DS version is actually a good handheld game, certainly better than any of future games in the series, and argued as better than the original version. The trick system from Project 8 returned worse. The open cities in practice were pretty empty and lack color which contrasts oddly with the arcade physics. It was the last game produced by Neversoft (only in the PS3/Xbox 360 versions and only a portion of the team as most were making a new Guitar Hero game), from which production was handed over to lesser second-parties.
  • Tony Hawk: RIDE (2009): To challenge EA's Skate series, RIDE introduced a new skateboard peripheral to simulate actual skateboarding. Hand movements and board positions would indicate tricks and techniques. Sadly, the peripheral was expensive, unresponsive, and hard to maintain balance while riding. RIDE had abysmal sales and critical backlash.
  • Tony Hawk: SHRED (2010): The final entry in the series, SHRED introduced a sturdier peripheral and a snowboarding mode. Unfortunately, the same peripheral and gameplay issues still existed and as a result, sold even less than RIDE. The series went on hiatus until the release of the much-maligned Pro Skater 5 in 2015.

Revival

  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD (2012): Activison's attempt to put the series back on track after some questionable turns. Launching as a downloadable game on PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade, THPS HD is a revisit to many classic levels of the first two titles, but reimagined in a new engine (both graphically and gameplay)... Or so it was supposed to be: The game wound up a broken, unplayable mess showing Activison couldn't even update the graphics without breaking the game.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 (2020): A full remake of the first two games (though officially referred to as a "remaster" even when the game was rebuilt from the ground up), released in 2020 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC exclusively on the Epic Games Store, with later releases on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S. The PC version was eventually released on Steam in 2023. Most of the original skaters from the original games have returned, albeit aged up to their middle-aged selves, and the game also introduces some new ones as well. The game also received a Setting Update where it now takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic, with said outbreak serving as a convenient explanation for the empty areas throughout the game in spite of the remake no longer confined to the limitations imposed by the PS1.

Spinoffs

  • Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure (2003): A Mission Pack Sequel of Pro Skater 4, but with Disney properties and no Tony Hawk. Made by Toys for Bob instead of Neversoft, it's regarded as a solid entry but not the greatest. Features simplified controls to account for a younger audience, though a "Pro Controls" mode is also included for experienced players.
  • Tony Hawk's American Sk8land (2005): DS spinoff noteworthy for being one of the first online games for the DS and for the technological achievement of packing pretty high quality music and voice acting into a 64 mb cartridge. Went with a cell shaded art style as opposed to THAW's realistic approach, and featured trimmed down version's of the home consoles' levels and moveset edited for the DS's capabilities.
  • Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam (2006): The only racing game in the series (though there are several goals in other games which are races), notable for containing no other pro skateboarders save for Tony Hawk, and being much more cartoonish and unrealistic than the other games in the series. Eventually got a PlayStation 2 port, after being released for the Wii (possibly to compensate for no Project 8), Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance.
  • Tony Hawk's Motion (2008): The only Tony Hawk game released in 2008, exclusive to the DS. This game was bundled with the actually more entertaining bonus game Hue Pixel Painter, and was extremely bare bones, with no licensed music (a series first), and full motion control, which came in the form of a motion sensitive cartridge you plugged into the GBA slot (which, when you consider that this was released months after the GBA-slot-less DSi, was a bad move). The game was actually half skateboarding, half snowboarding, and while public perception of the series had been on a low for a while, this game takes the notorious title of critically worst game in the series. Reception was so bad the included mini-game Pixel Painter was better received.

Fan-Made

  • THUG Pro: A Game Mod for Underground 2. THUG Pro ports levels from all games in the series up to Project 8. Currently all levels from 3, 4, THUG and THUG2 are included, as well as several from 1, 2, American Wasteland and Project 8 as well as one from Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure (Andy's Room), plus the Big Shell level from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty's skateboarding bonus mode[1] is available as a mod. It also unlocks many limits in character and park creation mode while generally opening the game up to further modding.

Beyond Activision

  • In 2018 Tony Hawk mentioned in an interview he was working on a new game without Activision. The game turned out to be Skate Jam, a mobile game for iOS and Android, which was the first Tony Hawk-branded game to not be published by Activision, as Activision's publishing license expired in 2015. Skate Jam was built upon Maple Media's previous Skate Party, and is a free-to-play game as is typical of smartphone games during the 2010s onward. It would later be re-released without the Tony Hawk branding.

This series is especially notable for the massive critical praise it received when it was still in its prime. 2 is the highest-rated PlayStation game on Metacritic, 3 is the highest rated PlayStation 2 game on the same site (in addition to being the 4th highest rated game of all time as well.)


Tropes used in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater include:
  • Art Shift: In American Wasteland, parts of the cutscenes are rendered in a cartoon style with little to no animation.
  • Benevolent Architecture: If it's a structure and it exists, you can trick off of it.
  • Big Head Mode: In a few of the games, first found in THPS2
  • Bonus Level of Heaven: Skate Heaven from THPS2.
  • Crazy Homeless People: Ollie the Magic Bum (which is generally what you're required to do when he is on a map)
  • Demoted to Extra: To an extent with Tony from Underground onward as the series shifts its focus to the player character instead of a roster of pro skaters. Tony and his fellow pro skater pals are still playable in the games' classic modes, however.
  • Dummied Out: The first game's beta featured levels called Downhill, Freeway, Classic Concrete and Suburbia which were changed or removed in the final release. Downhill was removed because of its length, in addition to resembling a level from the game Top Skater. The last section, a large warehouse with a pool in it, was implemented into the Chicago level in the final game. Freeway was removed because it wasn't finished. Classic Concrete was a physics test with various types of terrain in it. Suburbia was an early version of the San Francisco level that was heavily changed in the final version. Freeway can be accessed via hacking in the PC version of Tony Hawk's 2 (which also features the levels from Tony Hawk's 1). In the beta of the first game, Freeway has a bus appear out of nowhere and fly off into the air. The version hidden in the PC version of Tony Hawk's 2 has the differently colored bus from that game's Philadelphia level instead. Levels called Suburbia and Downhill appear in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, but they don't bear any resemblance to the originals (although Downhill does have a skate park at the bottom of the hill, like the original).
    • Tony Hawk's 3 has the Paris level, also known as Rooftops. It was never finished, and was seen in prototype shots featured in magazines before the game came out. It can be found with many of the graphics missing via hacking in the final game. The GBA version of the game features the Paris level, however. The level Skater's Island was originally named Rhode Island before the game came out as well.
  • Franchise Killer: An intentional example from Pro Skater 5. A completely awful game released within months of Activison's license expiring just to sink the value.
  • Genre Popularizer: Credited for kickstarting the supergenre of "extreme sports" games in the early 2000s.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • There's a sign in the Hawaii level in Underground that says "Yummy Weiners" and has a boy with a peculiar-looking hot dog in his mouth.
    • There's a porn movie theater in the Los Angeles level of the third game (recreated in Underground 2). If you couldn't guess it by the ambiguous movie titles on the marquee, the names of the gaps that involve it leave no shadow of doubt.
    • One gap in the Marseille level of the second game is called Knucklin' Futs.
  • Gotta Catch Em All: Hitting all of the humorously-named gaps.
  • Guest Skater: A lot. From Activision (the Neversoft eyeball, the Doom guy), licensed by Activision (Spider-Man, Wolverine, Shrek) or just for fun (Darth Maul, Benjamin Franklin, Iron Man, Jason Lee, etc.).
    • Jason Lee is a double bonus guest since he used to be a pro skateboarder before Hollywood.
    • Bam Margera also appears, with side missions unique to him, like riding shopping carts.
    • Of course, Gene Simmons is also playable in one game, which even features a Kiss level, where the band will play occasionally. Yes, Peter's drum set does the floating thing.
    • Motorcycle builder and reality show personality Jesse James (of West Coast Choppers fame) also appears as a playable character in THUG2 where he pilots a customised Segway-like motor scooter.
  • Hollywood Atlas: Many of the levels outside the USA have traits riffed from it (thankfully without ditching the general urban setting):
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Eric Sparrow. Just when you think he'll turn around for you and set things right, he'll ditch or defame you for his career.
  • Market-Based Title: The first game was sold in Europe as Tony Hawk's Skateboarding under the assumption that Europeans associate the word "skater" with ice skating. The series would later be marketed under a single global title since then.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Not only with the franchises the guest skaters are from, but also with the Spin-Off game Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX, as a couple levels from it make appearances.
  • Mayincatec: The temple section of Pro Skater from THUG2.
  • No One Should Survive That: Some of the bails are too ridiculous to be believed.
  • Planet Heck: The Hell section of Pro Skater from THUG2.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: The subway tokens in the New York level in THPS2. They, well, let you access the subway.
  • Skate Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Trope Maker
  • Space Zone: The mothership section of Pro Skater from THUG2.
  • To Be a Master: The plot, of sorts, for every game starting with Underground, where you create a custom skater and try to build your reputation so that you become famous enough to be recognized and sponsored by a pro skating company.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: In the Canada level of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, there is an objective to help a guy called Chuck (specifically, "Get Chuck Unstuck") who has got his tongue stuck on a pole and is being taunted and having snowballs thrown at him by two bullies. This being a skateboarding game, what's the solution? Plow into him at full speed.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Besides knocking down pedestrians, you can throw projectiles at them, (THUG2), or whack them with your skateboard (THAW).
  • Wall Jump: Called Wall Plants in the series, but the mechanic is the same.
    • From Tony Hawk's Underground 2 onwards, you are able to sticker slap, which involves bouncing off a wall. If two walls stand opposite each other with a rail standing between them, it is possible to keep a combo going for an infinite amount of time. This is easily the best move the game ever introduced, but understandably annoyed some gamers who decided it made the game too easy
  • What the Hell, Player?: Since the third game, if you ever run into other people too much or even once, they'll push you down and make you wipe out.
    • The general rule is not to ram security guards or attractive women, or they'll knock you on your ass.
  • You Fail Physics Forever: You can come to a full stop on just about any surface at an angle less than 90 degrees, without ever tumbling over or on your skateboard. And since walking was introduced, you can fall down great heights at top speed and nothing in your body will break. Of course, the aspects are Acceptable Breaks From Reality.
    • Or at least you can break bones (in Project 8 and possibly elsewhere) but this is seen as just another high-score mechanic, with one achievement requiring you to break 15 bones in a single bail.
    • And then, THUG2 comes and gives you Jesse James' motor-powered scooter, which never bails. You read it right. No matter how awkwardly you try to land, you cannot fall off the damn thing. The only way to bail is to purposefully jump into the ocean.
    • Also, at least on the first games, friction was nonexistent. You could grind a pool indefinitely, provided you could keep balance or used cheats.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: American Wasteland. You could grind on telephone poles as much as you pleased, but you still had to talk to an NPC before you were allowed to manual.
  1. The skateboarding mode actually served as a demo for Evolution Skateboarding, as the full game came with Metal Gear characters as unlockable skaters.