Like skateboarding itself, skateboarding games have come a long way in the last couple decades. Games like Skate or Die and 720 became staples of the 1980s and with the advent of the Sony Playstation, the Tony Hawk series took games to a whole new level.
We still have a special place for the classics, as well as the new games that continue to push the boundaries of gaming. Here are a few of the best skateboarding games ever made.
There wasn’t much to this Atari 2600 game, but it helped usher in an area of skateboarding game development that led to some of today’s most beloved skate games. The entire game is just one level that lasts about ten minutes if you successfully navigate your way to school. The ramps look like stairs and there are also some hurdles thrown in the mix. It’s a lot like Pitfall on a skateboard.
Town & Country Surf Design: Wood and Water Rage
Ironically, the surfing aspect of this game was all but worthless and most players stuck to the skateboarding events. Players could catch air, wipe out and fall into cavernous pits. The game itself is named after a shop in Hawaii that manufactured surfboards and clothing. The characters in the game were modeled after T&C’s “Da Boys” cartoon characters, which were popular tee shit designs before the game hit the market.
Skate or Die!
While most of us are familiar with the NES version, Skate or Die! was originally released in 1997 for Commodore 64 and Atari ST. The game featured two iconic characters, Rodney Recloose and Bionic Lester. Players compete in ramp events, downhill, pool joust and other contests. While major video game reviewers gave Skate or Die! Pretty hard knocks, it has become a favorite cult classic still played by vintage gaming enthusiasts.
Released as an arcade game in 1986 and on Nintendo in 1989, 720 became one of the most popular skateboarding games out there and is attributed as one of the first extreme sports video games on the market. Of course, the gaming feat for skilled players was actually landing a 720 on the half pipe. To move through the game, players must earn enough points to move on to bigger and better events.
This arcade game had everything a skateboarding game enthusiast was looking for – including an a deck-shaped controller you stood on to do tricks. Big airs, grabs, 360s and plenty of other tricks were at out fingertips with a punk rock soundtrack to tie everything together.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
Pro Skater took skateboard gaming into the new millennium. It featured a rotating cast of favorite professional skaters to choose from, superior graphics and an incredible bank of tricks. The game mixed the best elements of street and ramp skating, allowing players to shred in a way reality simply would never allow. It came with loads of critical acclaim and spawned plenty of follow-ups.
Thrasher: Skate and Destroy
Thrasher, the premiere skateboarding magazine for decades, teamed up with Rockstar Games to put out Skate and Destroy. Unfortunately, this game was released on Playstation shortly after Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater hit the streets. Needless to say, Thrasher’s game didn’t get the love it deserved. It featured a solid hip-hop soundtrack, but getting the tricks down was a lot harder than Tony Hawk’s game, which turned off a lot of players.
Grind session was yet another post-Hawk game that didn’t get the love it deserved, but did have a pretty solid following. Critics knocked this one for being a Tony Hawk rip off, yet despite the bad rap, it actually had some pretty remarkable playability and was decidedly more realistic than it’s Hawk counterpart – although there was still plenty of opportunity to defy reality.
Tony Hawk’s Underground
Released in 2003, Tony Hawk’s Underground upped the stakes once again by adding several new elements. This game actually included storytelling, vehicles and the ability to get off your skateboard. It was new territory that helped revive the Hawk series and make it the premiere skateboarding game once again.
Skate 3 hit the market in 2010 and quickly became a favorite of gamers looking for a bit more of a challenging and realistic skateboarding experience. Thrasher’s third installment of the Skate and Destroy series provides a depth of playability and storytelling unseen in its competitors.