Pull up the skate bible from the last three decades and you’ll quickly spot the variety of video games nested within every page and psalm. Of course, while you’ll immediately find yourself drawn to the bulky index of Pro Skater chapters, it is worth pointing out that, believe it or not — there’s a whole lot more buried between the very lines that bind it all together. And that’s not our way of subtly slating the Birdman or any of the iconic works that Neversoft push out under the Hawk’s wing. It’s just that, well — there’s a few more pools and halfpipes worth pondering over.
While the genre as a whole hasn’t really managed to secure updated roots in today’s market, there are still plenty of ambitious developers fighting tooth and nail in the plight to educate both gamers and extreme sports fanatics. And that’s gnarly. Or radical. Or…something along those lines. The point is, skateboarding might’ve phased out over the years, but the world and its cloisters of skaters are still staying loyal to the platform and all its gaming history. And while on the topic of history, we do have to celebrate the very chapters that escalated the sport to incredible heights since its inception. Sorry — radical heights.
5. Skate 3
After spending a great deal of time with Neversoft and their pipeline of exaggerated skate hits back in the early noughties, players soon started to embrace the hunger for something a little more realistic, with physics that dared to go back to the basics. And, rather than having a stage where almost anything was possible with the mash of a few buttons — gamers wanted to experience the actual struggles that coincided with learning the fundamentals of skating. And that, thankfully, is around the time EA rolled along with the Skate trilogy.
While the first two chapters of Skate brought a lot to the table, EA definitely tapped into something much greater with their third and final addition to the series. With ingredients carried over from the previous entries, Skate 3 forged an all-around package that went on to become one of the best and most lifelike skateboarding experiences ever seen in a video game. And even today, as we embrace the dozens of newcomers to the genre, EA’s beloved trilogy still stands among the greatest extreme sports games of all time.
4. Skater XL
Drawing the eye away from Neversoft and their catalogue of supernatural skate chapters for a second time, Skater XL was another great entry to the platform that also opted for the realism that entwined with skateboarding. Similar to EA’s take on the sport, Easy Day Studios followed the trial and error method for their urban skate chapter, which fortunately led to some of the best gameplay we’ve seen in a long time. Simplistic, yes. But a worthy contribution to the skate bible nonetheless.
Rather than handing you the tools to master a line without a great deal of skill involved, Skater XL has you putting in blood, sweat and tears just to string together the absolute basics. With a spool of concrete jungles open to explore and adapt to, skaters can look to hone their skills with every rail, curb and quarterpipe drizzled like stepping stones on a stream to fame and fortune.
Ever since EA decided to pull the plug on Skate back in 2010, fans have been kicking and screaming over a potential revival, with millions still plugging away at the first three games a decade later. Thankfully (and it really is happening), Black Box will be returning to the studio with a fresh take on the series for 2021, meaning Skate 4, amazingly enough — is officially in the works. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about — especially when the spiritual successor idles in our peripherals.
Like Skate, Session follows a strict outline that refuses to hold your hand as you learn the basics of skating. And, rather than being gift-wrapped an entire manual on how to carve your legacy on the board, Crea-ture Studios instead gives you the freedom required to hone your skill trees from scratch. Whether it’s an ollie, a kickflip or a bank transfer — Session has you going back and forth a hundred times over just to perfect the basics and craft lifelike lines.
2. Tony Hawk’s Underground
While some would argue that the Pro Skater series could’ve carried the skateboarding platform for all eternity, Neversoft, on the other hand, struggled to recreate the charm from the first two chapters, resulting in a relatively mediocre third and fourth. Thankfully, the skate kingpin diverted from the worn-out formula, despite its groundbreaking sales figures, and carved a new outline for the Hawk empire; one that would go on to lay the foundations for every following release.
Tony Hawk’s Underground was the first in the series to allow its players to hop on and off the board, all while keeping the same best-selling skate physics that escalated the Pro Skater timeline. All in all, Underground compressed everything players loved into one rather lengthy tale, with far more than two-minute skate sessions to keep players shovelling through. From rags to riches, scuffed deck to signature trucks, Tony Hawk’s Underground delivered a neatly compressed story that went on to be bookmarked by all gamers and skate fanatics alike.
1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2
Of course, it’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. And yes, we’re guilty of putting the double-barrel package as our number one spot. But let’s be honest — both skate chapters simply ooze replayability and nostalgia, with each level striking several chords from our younger days, what with the unique setups and hidden locations that each area boasts. The bottom line is — both Pro Skater 1 + 2 are worthy of a place on this list — only we’re stuck on which to put forward as the overall champion. And so, with that, we’re crowning the remastered collection as the best skateboarding game of all time.
Of course, without the original Pro Skater chapter that released back in 1999, this bundle never would’ve existed. And it’s because of that, that we’re immediately inclined to bow our heads to the roots of the staple skate series. Pro Skater captured everything one could possibly want from a skateboarding game and more. From the fast-paced trick sets to the checklist comprised of adrenaline-fueled challenges, the iconic hidden collectables to the punk rock/hip hop soundtrack — Pro Skater had it all. And then some.
Do you have a favourite skateboarding game? Let us know over on our socials here.