If you’re a skateboarder, there’s a huge chance you’ve played a skateboarding video game. Heck, even if you’re not a skateboarder, you’ve likely played one or two at some point in your life. What you might not know is that skateboarding has been in video games for a LONG time. Here’s a look at just some of the many skateboarding video games and arcade games that have been released over the past few decades:
720° – Arcade game by Atari, 1986
Perhaps the start of it all, 720 Degrees was an arcade game by Atari. Named after the trick, which of course was the most rotations done on a skateboard at that time (of course invented by Tony Hawk). There is still some working 720 arcade game consoles out there. You might have to go on a mission to find this, but it will probably be worth it.
Skate Boardin’ – Atari 2600 VCS, 1987
Very possibly the first skateboarding video game in existence made for home consoles. So old that “skateboarding” as a single-word term was still not widely accepted. But hey, you gotta give credit where credit is due. And if you’re going to be the first of something, we’re usually going to give you a lot of credit, no matter the graphics.
California Games – Many Platforms, 1987
The first widely released video game that featured skateboarding and many stereotypical “California Sports”. California Games was definitely a fan favorite. Finding a copy of this game shouldn’t be hard as long as you can get the owner to part with it.
Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage – NES, 1988
Yeah, not a great name for a video game. But come on, doesn’t this take you back?
Now that we think about it, there was a good chance you weren’t alive. You gotta give it nostalgia points though! Oh and they eventually made a sequel where you can skate through the jungle!
Skate or Die! – NES & PC, 1988
You gotta love the music. Or how about “Skating To The Pool Joust” at the 2:44 mark… “Aggro’ Eddie” and “Poseur Pete”? This is just awesome.
Skate or Die 2: The Search for Double Trouble – NES, 1990
“At the start of the game, the player is armed with a paintball gun and a handful of weapons to throw at his enemies.”
How is that not the gnarliest thing ever?
Skate or Die: Tour de Thrash
A Game Boy entry of the Skate or Die series, though it didn’t carry much over from the console versions.
Still notable in it’s own right as being the first real handheld skateboarding video game.
ESPN Extreme Games / 1Xtreme – PlayStation, 1995 & MS-DOS, 1996
Like California Games, ESPN’s Extreme Games (renamed to 1Xtreme later on) featured a variety of game modes. As it’s name suggests, the sports were based off those included in the 1995 Summer X-Games (held in Rhode Island that year). In addition to skateboarding, Extreme Games featured street luge, BMX, and *sigh*… rollerblading.
This game eventually spawned two sequels, 2Xtreme and 3Xtreme.
Top Skater – Arcade game by Sega, 1997
This one definitely drew crowds.
Was it just like skateboarding? Haha.
Did it make any sense? Not really.
Was it realistic in any way? Not at all.
But if this game got at least one kid to say “This was fun, maybe I’ll try real skateboarding”,
then we’re glad that it was made.
Street Skater – PlayStation, 1998
At first glance, the cover of this game looks like it might be a rollerblading game. And it very well could of been, as rollerblading was big around this time. Just like the late ’80s and early ’90s had a certain nostalgia, so did the late ’90s and this game personified it. And like many skateboarding games, it had a great soundtrack. This game can’t be too hard to find, so get your hands on one, fire up the ol’ Playstation & enjoy this one!
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – Multiple Platforms, 1999
The original of the series and still one of the best in our opinion.
If you were alive when this came out, playing this today will give you the chills.
If you born after, you’re gonna be wondering what VHS tapes are and why you have to collect them.
Thrasher: Skate and Destroy – PlayStation, 1999
In the wake of the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Thrasher’s Skate and Destroy went largely unrecognized. Regarded to be less user-friendly than THPS, Skate and Destroy was also noted as being more sophisticated. Landing difficult tricks was far more complex which may have turned off more novice game players. All things considered, Skate and Destroy is just as significant an entry as Pro Skater into the skateboarding video game world.
Grind Session – PlayStation, 2002
By this time, the “3rd-person, skate anywhere” format had become standard and Grind Session was another game worth mentioning. Grind Session wasn’t nearly as good as it’s recent competitors, but it did feature an interesting list of pro skateboarders to choose from including Daewon Song, Ed Templeton, and Cara-Beth Burnside.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 – Many Platforms, 2000
Sequels aren’t often better than the original, or at least aren’t usually better for their respective time period than the original. However, THPS 2 just may have been even more significant than the first. Bigger levels, more tricks, more options, and an awesome soundtrack are just a few of the improvements over the first Pro Skater, which was released just a year earlier. Almost 15 years later, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 still provides endless hours of fun.
ESPN X-Games Skateboarding – PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, 2001
In 2001, ESPN released another game based off the X-Games. Unlike their previous releases, this one only featured skateboarding. X-Games Skateboarding received many mixed reviews and ultimately would not hold up as well as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, which came out that same year. This game did, however, feature a solid soundtrack, including relative Linkin Park, Sum 41, and New Found Glory, all relative newcomers at the time.
Go! Go! Hypergrind – Nintendo GameCube, 2003
One of many skateboarding games to feature cartoon characters, Go! Go! Hypergrind was released by Atlus for the Nintendo GameCube. Wacky? Yes. But many people were able to get over this and enjoy the gameplay, graphics, and sounds.
Tony Hawk’s Underground – Multiple Platforms, 2003
Tony Hawk’s Underground was the 5th skateboarding game bearing the Birdman’s namesake, but the first to not include “Pro Skater”. Just like most of the previous games, Underground received wide critical acclaim. A significant difference in “T.H.U.G.” was that you could walk, run, and climb in addition to skateboarding. This helped make this entry much more of a role-playing or “adventure” game.
Skate – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mobile, 2007
Let’s jump ahead a bit, as the Tony Hawk series seemed to dominate the skateboarding video game world for several consecutive years. Simply titled Skate, this game was released by EA on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and maybe most interestingly, mobile phones. Skate also featured an online multi-player mode. Reaction to this game was very positive. Multiple sequels were created not long after Skate’s release.
Skate It – Nintendo DS, Wii, iOS, 2008
The story within EA’s Skate It fits in between Skate and it’s sequel, Skate 2. It received similar praise from critics, who enjoyed the presentation, gameplay, and soundtrack.
Shaun White Skateboarding – Windows, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, 2010
Even though he’s more well known for his snowboarding, Shaun White is a very well-respected skateboarder. His unique style, signature tricks, and contest victories led to him getting a video game all of his own.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD – Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Windows, 2012
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a mix of the first 2 THPS games, but displayed in high-definition. This version showcases many features from both classic games, and also brings in new elements.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, Playstation & Xbox, 2015
This entry into the Tony Hawk series of skateboarding video games returned to the original “Pro Skater” titling. THPS5 featured a mostly all-new cast of skaters including prominent females like Leticia Bufoni and Lizzie Armanto. The game play and levels were meant to hark back on what made the originals great. However, the result was something different. The game received a lot of negative feedback, namely about its design and tendency to glitch.
Other Skateboarding Game Entries Over the Years
We’re totally cool with The Simpsons Skateboarding video game; Bart was an inspiration to a lot us. But it’s hard to say the same about many of the others. Come on, Buzz Lightyear? Goofy? SIMBA?!? We haven’t played many of these titles but we recommend sticking to the games that focus on great gameplay, resemblance to actual skateboarding, and soundtracks that you could actually skate to. Any game that’s merely trying to cash in on skateboarding’s popularity is probably not worth playing.
As skateboarding grows in prominence and continues to influence popular culture, we’re bound to see new video games arise. The fact of the matter is that skateboarding itself requires physical commitment and playing the games does not. Those not willing to dedicate their bodies but still want to be a part of the scene will turn to wearing skate clothing and playing the video games. This demand will drive the production of skateboarding games, which is ultimately a plus for actual skateboarders. Either the game will be great and will make for quality downtime between skate sessions, or it will garbage where we can still get a kick out of how companies fail to comprehend the intricacies of skateboarding.
In conclusion, skateboarding games come in all forms. Some are better than others. Some become classics, while others are forgotten. But one thing is certain, no skateboarding video game can ever come close to the fun of the real thing… NOW GO SKATE!
2020 UPDATE: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
It’s been a long time since a skateboarding video game has made this big of a splash. Skaters, skate fans, and many others are excited for THPS 1 + 2. The game, announced this spring, will be a remastered combination of the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games. In addition to the original cast, it will feature characters from subsequent entries in the franchise. There will also be new arrivals. The likeness of the original characters is updated to feature how they appear today.
The levels in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 have all been recreated in high definition 4k resolution and will include favorites like “Warehouse” and “Venice Beach.” The soundtrack will also include favorites from the originals. The game is set for release on September 4th, 2020, on multiple platforms. Finally, a reboot worth anticipating!