Ranked: The Five Best Skateboarding Games of all time

With EA recently teasing Skate 4, we looked back fondly on all the best skateboarding games from when we were young hooligans, ripping up the streets and busting sick moves.

5. Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy – PSX – 1999


Never quite reaching the same illustrious heights of popularity as Mr. Hawk, Thrasher was an excellent skateboarding game in its own right.

Thrasher took a more sim approach to skating and tricks which gave it a significantly steeper learning curve than other skating games. It was also a lot less forgiving. Landing slightly askew would see your skater eat shit and eat it hard.

Thrasher also lacked the star power of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and only included six fictional characters to choose from. Each had a customisable name and clothes and the overall aim was to become a Pro Skater and be featured on the front cover of Thrasher Magazine.

It wasn’t easy. Though things worth doing rarely are.

4. Tony Hawk’s Underground – GCN, PS2, Xbox – 2003


The first Tony Hawk title to include a proper story and before it got ‘too’ silly, Tony Hawk’s Underground was awesome.

It took the ‘open-world’ aspect of THPS4 and added a plot that actually had some decent beats and was pretty engaging. Being able to explore freely on foot and find new challenges to complete while trying to become a famous skater was key to THUG’s success.

Having your rival be one step ahead of you the entire way added a Pokémon like rivalry that only made you want to get better. The skating mechanics in THUG had been nailed down since THPS3 so nothing much had changed, but free-roaming, customisation and meeting Pros as your pleb skater made it feel fresh.

It didn’t have the impact of earlier titles, but it was still one of the best sports games of its generation.

3. OlliOlli – PS Vita – 2014


The most recent addition to this list, OlliOlli is one of the most addictive and intense games you can play on your PS Vita. Of course it’s now been ported to absolutely everything, so you have no excuse not to play.

A side-scrolling, arcade skate game, OlliOlli requires players to only jump (Ollie), perform tricks and land. By landing tricks perfectly you get full points, but land slightly off and you’ll only get a portion of the potential points.

Depending on how badly you mess up your landing will determine how many points you get or don’t get. If you fall of the board you’re forced to restart the level with each containing five unlockable achievements.

High score hunters and perfectionists played it in droves and fans of Trials had found a new addiction.

2. Skate 2 – PS3, Xbox 360 – 2009


After the huge success Activision had had with Tony Hawk, EA decided to get in on the action and released Skate in 2007 for PS3 and Xbox 360. It moved away from the trick style established as the norm by THPS and instead required players to flick the right analogue stick. It was innovative and felt natural.

Where THPS would require a player to simply press a button to perform a Kick-Flip, Skate would require a movement on the analogue stick approximating the movements of a skater’s foot.

Skate was a breath of fresh air, but it was in Skate 2 that EA perfected the formula. Set in the open world city of San Verona after a devastating earthquake, players had a massive skate park to play in. You could even jump off your deck and move pieces of the world around to change the layout of the city.

Skate 3 was another good entry, but came along too soon after Skate 2 and had a bigger focus on online co-op play, which was still in its infancy at the time.

1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 – PSX – 2000


Sure, THPS was the game that started it all, but THPS 2 added the manual. And it literally changed the game.

Along with adding the manual, THPS 2 also added the Create-a-Skater and Park Editor which remained staples of the series. It also included Steve Caballero, Eric Koston and Rodney ‘Godney’ Mullen for the very first time.

THPS 2 had the best levels including School II, Hangar and of course Skate Heaven. THPS 2 was before the days of free-roaming so players had only two-minutes per run to get a high score, collect S-K-A-T-E, discover gaps, finding the hidden tape and more.

The two-minute time limit was genius. It kept players coming back again and again to discover everything the level had to offer.

Unfortunately, the HD remake was a let-down, though is probably better to play than the original thanks to the tremendous improvements to the visuals since the days of the PSX.

The cherry on top for THPS 2 was the incredible licensed soundtrack. “Guerilla Radio,”Blood Brothers” and “No Cigar” were just a few of the tracks that were the soundtrack to my childhood, thanks to THPS2.

It’s been far too long since a great skateboarding game was released. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was almost unplayable and besides the HD Remake of Pro Skater and OlliOlli, this generation hasn’t seen any other releases.

Here’s hoping that the Skate 4 teasing becomes more than that soon.

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Leo Stevensonhttps://powerup-gaming.com/
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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