The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) series did two things right: be hard enough to keep people coming back for more, and have an entertaining soundtrack for people to enjoy while taking on the challenges of the game.
The game came out on September 20, 2000, for the Sony PlayStation. It was developed by Neversoft and published by Activision, and was also ported to the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PC, Mac, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and there is even an iOS port.
In fact, THPS 2 is the second-highest rated game of all time according to Metacritic (behind The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) and the highest-rated sports game of all time. The game was also the highest rated game of the 2000s. Players were tasked with completing a set of achievements in two minutes, such as finding the five letters of the word SKATE and finding five objects relating to the level. In addition, doing tricks between certain areas added to your score, as well as the variation of tricks, which means you couldn’t just 50-50 grind and kickflip your way to the highest possible score. You could even customize your skater’s tricks and special moves.
At the time, professional skateboarding was surging in popularity, with more people under the age of 18 riding skateboards than playing baseball. Real-life skaters were included in the game, such as Tony Hawk himself, street skater Rodney Mullen, and Steve Caballero. THPS 2 was also the first game in the series to include a level editor and allowed players to create their own skater. Levels such as School and Hangar were among the fan favorites, and Skatestreet was an actual skatepark located in Ventura, California. Skate Heaven was the final level and was an amalgamation of several real-life skate spots.
What made THPS 2 so great aside from its challenging gameplay? Many people would argue that the soundtrack helped give the game a lot of replay value. Bands such as Papa Roach and Rage Against the Machine had songs in the game, while underground hip-hop groups such as The High & Mighty and Styles of Beyond created two of my favorite songs in the game in “B-Boy Document 99” and “Subculture”. Having spent hundreds (possibly thousands?) of hours in this game, it is safe to say that this was one of the formative games of my childhood. Tony Hawk himself even said that the THPS series is one of the biggest reasons why he is still popular to this day.
While the THPS franchise has been on hiatus since 2015, Tony Hawk himself said this year that he wants to continue the franchise without Activision’s help. “Not from Activision. I’m potentially working on something but it’s so early I couldn’t talk about it. I don’t have any contracts signed but it’s exciting. I feel like it’s with the right people so I should know more in the next couple months,” he said in the interview with Destructoid. This means that a new THPS game could be around the corner in the next couple of years, but hopefully, it isn’t the disaster that THPS 5 was.
Neversoft producer Ralph D’Amato, who worked on all the THPS games up to Project 8, announced that a documentary about how the THPS franchise is in the works, Pretending I’m A Superman. However, as of this writing, the Indiegogo campaign has stalled, with only $17,409 in funding out of $75,000.