The lights are on
Long before Call of Duty and Guitar Hero became cultural phenomenons with annual installments, Activision found major success in an unlikely place. Few extreme sport games have found mass appeal beyond their built-in fanbase, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater struck a chord with gamers of all types when it released in 1999. The series' addictive, highly skill-based gameplay and wacky sense of humor kept it relevant for several years, before eventually falling in the eyes of critics and fans. With the highly-anticipated Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD coming later this year, we decided to take a look at the highs and lows of the long-running series. Read on to see how we rank the Tony Hawk series from worst to best.
11. Tony Hawk Ride/Shred (2009/2010)
As I mentioned in the intro, part of what made the Tony Hawk series so appealing to gamers was the focus on skill. Sure, you could have fun just dorking around and grinding on rails, but the addiction set in when you were trying to top your previous high score with an insane combo. Tony Hawk Ride and Shred made sure that fans of the series were deprived of even the slightest semblance of this feeling. Its ridiculous board peripheral turned what used to be a fast-paced test of hand-eye coordination into a chore. Its sloppy controls required so little skill that even bulldogs could enjoy it.
10. Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam (2006)
One element of the series that gamers loved was its open environments that encouraged exploration. Whether you were searching for S-K-A-T-E levels or looking for bums to ollie over, there was something fun about discovering what each level had to offer. This Wii launch title ditched that approach, opting to include downhill races exclusively. This departure combined with the unresponsive motion controls made it one of most thorougly unenjoyable games in the series.
9. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (2004)
While the first Underground stuck with most of the elements that made the series a success, Underground 2 felt like it was trying way too hard to be Jackass Skateboarding. Playable characters included the MTV show's Bam and Phil Margera, Wee Man, and Steve-O, and the story featured painfully unfunny attempts at humor. The sub-par objectives frequently involved non-skateboard modes of transportation such as Jesse James' Segway-like chopper and a crippled kid's wheelchair. Considering the game focuses more on juvenile humor and MTV personalities than solid gameplay, this entry turned off many fans.