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 Hawkman himself.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.The series has generated twelve entries on multiple platforms, with at least one new game released almost every year since the franchise's launch from 1999. It also released three spin-offs: two for the DS and one for the Wii. It is remembered hugely for its unmatched taste in music, which is more recognized than the gameplay itself.
Pro Skater Series
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999): Originally launched on the PSone (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-released again on the iPhone in 2010.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (2001): The first game designed for the sixth generation of consoles - PS2, Gamecube and Xbox. The PS2'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 PS2. 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 last game with the Pro Skater moniker, and often considered to not be as superior as the third due to its Obvious Beta status on some consoles. 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. It also introduced spine transfers where the skater can flip from one side of a quarter pipe to another one facing the opposite direction.
Tony Hawk's Underground (2003): Sticking with the free-roaming format in 4, it 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 (these actually were already in THPS3, but not all versions had them). 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. Introduced a few little things to the gameplay, like the Freak Out (if you bail off a combo, you can Button Mash to destroy your board in frustration - you get a few points and can start a new combo from it), the Natas Spin (which can only be used on small surfaces like hydrants and poles), graffiti tagging (which counts as a trick if you're in the middle of a Run Out combo) and throwing objects at people (which change depending on the level).
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.
Tony Hawk's Project 8 (2006): The first game released for the Xbox360 and PS3, 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 PS2 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 PS2 and Wii in a stripped down form, PS3 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 the other DS Tony Hawk's games. The only criticism about the home console versions was that they further pushed the "Nail the Trick" feature, complicating it further with more possible flips and the newly added grabs. It was the last game produced by Neversoft (only in the PS3/Xbox 360 versions), 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, hard to maintain balance while riding, as demonstrated. 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 was nearly canned after this.
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).
Tony Hawk's American Sk8land (2005): DS spinoff noteworthy for being one of the first online games for the DS. 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 PS2 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 gameHue 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.
HD includes a multiplayer mode where your head will grow the more points your opponent scores. To deflate it, score some points yourself. If it gets too big it pops and the last skater with a head wins.
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.
Easy-Mode Mockery: In Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, getting a high score while using Kid Mode will get "Poseur" stamped over your skater's picture.
Fun with Acronyms: Tony Hawk's Underground and Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (except, in the latter case, the acronym doesn't really apply anywhere).
Genre Popularizer: Credited for kickstarting the supergenre of "extreme sports" games in the early 2000s.
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.
Ghost Town: In the PS One / N64 games, no matter how big the level was, they were entirely unpopulated. Minneapolis and San Francisco in THPS1 and New York and Philly in THPS2 particularly stick out. Only when the games hit the sixth generation, developers got enough processing power to add pedestrians (and a bit more of realism).
HD brings them back to return the old school feel. To be fair, though, none of the levels there are in the middle of the city (that is, until Robomodo releases the THPS3 retro levels as DLC - Los Angeles and the Airport are among them).
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.
Gene Simmons is also playable in Underground, which even features a KISS level, where the band will play after collecting the K-I-S-S letters scattered around the level. Yes, Peter's drum set does the floating thing.
And you can play as Gene Simmons in the KISS level and have KISS play, resulting in there being two Gene Simmons.
Speaking of musical appearances, how about Eddie being an unlockable in THPS4? How awesome is that?
Hollywood Atlas: Many of the levels outside the USA have traits riffed from it (thankfully without ditching the general urban setting):
Spexico: The Bullring in THPS2 is stated to be in Mexico.
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo: Tokyo in THPS3 (though it looks more like an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield). Subverted with Kyoto in THUG2 Remix/THAW because it favors the urban look instead of the traditional side of the city (though it does have a Godzilla-like footprint which serves as a pool...).
Shown Their Work: Compared to the San Francisco level in the first game, the San Francisco level in THPS 4 is a disturbingly accurate depiction of the area around the Ferry building. The scaled down but accurate depiction of Alcatraz is just icing.
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? Grind onto his tongue.
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.
Artistic License - Physics: 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.
Your Head Asplode: What happens if you fail Big Head Mode in HD. Your head keeps growing and the only way to shrink it is by making combos.