The arrival of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 on Switch ends a decade-long drought on Nintendo consoles of ollies, nollies, kickflips, grinds from the master Mr Anthony Hawk. The games (and their iconic soundtracks) were a formative part of many gamers’ lives in the late ’90s/early 2000s and we’re thrilled to have him back.
Tony might have been away for a while, but with a whopping 27 games to his name on Nintendo platforms (including all the handheld versions), we thought it must be about time to rank them all from gnarliest to nastiest. Similar to our other reader-ranked polls, we’ve enlisted you lovely Nintendo Life readers to help us with the task of putting Tony’s Hawks in order.
We asked you to rate every Tony Hawk game you’ve played and below you’ll find the result — the definitive ranking of every game in the Tony Hawk series… well, every game in the series that released on Nintendo systems. Yes, there are a few missing; you’ll just have to live without a handful of games, mainly from the past decade. Although if what we’ve heard about Tony Hawk 5 is true, we’re pretty sure we can guess with a high degree of accuracy where it would rank below, ‘rank’ being the operative word.
Remember that this list is not set in stone. Registered Nintendo Life users can click on the stars below and rate the games out of 10, and the dynamic ranking — based on User Ratings — is subject to real-time change even now. Feel free to add your score to the game at any time, present or future, and it will still count and potentially influence the order.
So, grab your pads, your big shorts and your board, and let’s H-O-R-S-E around on the halfpipe…
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Creat Studios
Bundled with the Motion Pack which slotted into the DS or DS Lite’s GBA card slot to enable motion-based controls, Tony Hawk’s Motion was a video game released for the Nintendo DS featuring Tony Hawk. Yep. As you might have gathered, we never actually played this one. It was, by all accounts, total toilet and it seems we did well to avoid it.
We tell a lie — one Damien McFerran played and reviewed this entry for Pocket Gamer, so someone on the team has played it! Let’s see how Nintendo Life’s Editorial Director extraordinaire summed it up back in 2008…
Saddled with poor visuals, ineffective controls and a complete lack of engaging content, Tony Hawk’s Motion is a crushing disappointment.
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Buzz Monkey
Developer Buzz Monkey was in charge of the Wii version of Tony Hawk: RIDE, while Robomodo handled the 360 and PS3 games. Using a skateboard controller you stand on to control a skateboard game (rather than one of those old-fashioned gamepad things) must have seemed like a great idea when this project got the green light, but by 2010 the plastic peripheral fad was coming to an end. After several years of Wii waggle, hardcore fans weren’t likely to be impressed and casual gamers had Rock Band guitars and crappy golf club Wiimote holders up to their eyeballs; they weren’t going to fork out for another gimmicky (and expensive) input device.
RIDE would have struggled even if the game had been incredible, but the fact it was awful left the franchise in a precarious position as it entered the noughties.
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Robomodo
2010’s Tony Hawk: Shred was a sequel to Ride which used a motion-controlled skateboard peripheral. To say it put a nail in the coffin of the franchise isn’t quite accurate — Birdman’s series is alive and kicking, after all — but the fact remains that it was over a decade before Nintendo gamers would get another new Tony Hawk game, which was actually a pair of old Tony Hawk games remade for modern consoles.
Let’s just move on; Shred is too depressing to linger on.
This version of Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam was the final series entry to land on Game Boy Advance, the sixth overall. There were plenty Hawks already available on the console, then, but this race-focused entry gave the plucky portable a decent send off, at least… maybe. We really can’t say with any authority, unfortunately — never played it.
C’mon, give us a break! It was 2006 and there were two other versions on newer Nintendo consoles!
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Vicarious Visions
A handheld version of American Wasteland, Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land saw Vicarious Visions on development duties and the GBA version featured the fixed isometric camera of the previous entries. More of the same solid skating on the portable, and the fifth (and penultimate) one to grace the Game Boy Advance.
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Natsume
Natsume’s Game Boy Color version of the celebrated original game was a huge downgrade and related to the PlayStation/N64/Dreamcast version in name only. Future handheld ports on the more powerful Game Boy Advance would inject their own charm and creativity into the handheld arena despite diverting from the 3D source material. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on GBC, however, is a very limited, unimaginative game.
The DS version of Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground was a Vicarious Visions joint and the handheld version lived up to the studios’ work on previous entries, faring better than the Wii version developed by Page 44 Studios, at least.
The Xbox 360 and PS3 version of Proving Ground was the final game in the series to be worked on by series originators Neversoft before they hung up their scuffed kneepads and hobbled into the sunset.
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Vicarious Visions
The most advanced of the two Nintendo handheld jams, ol’ reliable VV was behind Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam on DS, which ensured a minimum level of quality. In fact, this racing-focused entry featured full 3D visuals on the handheld, which look pretty ugly by today’s standards but were impressively smooth considering the modest hardware at the time. Not bad at all for the only racing game(s) in the series.
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Page 44 Studios
The Wii was no stranger to truncated ports or compromises when it came to getting bespoke versions of big-name games, but it was usually a bad sign when the developer of the Wii port was also behind a lagging PS2 version as well, as was the case here.
We saw worse throughout the Wii’s life — and worse within the Tony Hawk series — but mechanically and visually speaking, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground on Wii lagged behind all other versions. Hardly a nadir, but certainly not a career high point.