The 5 best skateboarding games, ranked
Expand beyond Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
Skateboarding games have become increasingly common over the past several years. From niche Kickstarter campaigns to the big-budget Tony Hawk Pro Skater revival, the skateboarding genre hasn’t seen such a spotlight since the heyday of the Tony Hawk series. Of all the genres in the gaming industry, few offer the immediacy of a skateboarding title. If you’re in the market for new games, our list compiles the five current best skateboarding games.
5. Skater XL
Skater XL is what Skate would look and play like if the flick-it control scheme evolved to make use of both analog sticks. There’s an inherently higher level of satisfaction to pulling off tricks with this dual-stick setup. Unfortunately, Skater XL is held back by its level design. The game’s physics aren’t attuned to most maps, making it difficult to skate anything in a remotely realistic manner. Even the low pop causes players to overshoot obstacles, which becomes a problem when skating real-world locations. Because of this, Skater XL specifically comes recommended to PC gamers. Its modding community has transformed Skater XL with an unprecedented amount of tweakable gameplay parameters, extra tricks, and additional maps.
4. OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood
OlliOlli 2 proved that you don’t need a 3D setting to make a compelling skateboarding game. Expanding upon its predecessor’s solid foundation, this sequel captures the perfect balancing to make you say “one more try” after a failed run. While it makes use of the flick-it system introduced in Skate, OlliOlli 2 veers into a retro direction with each level being an obstacle course. As you move through the game, its stages grow increasingly complex, asking you to chain together combos in quick succession. While some frustration may ensue, its snappy gameplay and interesting levels keep it from wearing players down too much.
Related: OlliOlli World brings chill vibes and top-of-the-line skateboarding – Review
3. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 is where the iconic skateboarding franchise peaked. By this point in the series, its trick selection is about as varied as you can get with spine transfers, Natas spins, and skitching. This isn’t even touching upon special tricks like the moonwalk 5-0. This strong fundamental gameplay is backed by equally creative level design and a unique career mode. With the story playing out like an episode of Viva La Bam, Tony Hawk’s Underground 2’s antics offer the sort of levity that match its off-the-wall gameplay.
2. Skate 2
While many have a fond spot for Skate 3’s team-focused challenges and new tricks such as darkslides, Skate 2 is the most balanced installment. This ultimately comes down to level design. San Velona is a more compelling playground than Port Carverton. In order to make room for the narrative’s co-op missions, Skate 3’s map was made too large for its own good. There is too much empty space between obstacles, along with over-exaggerated proportions for many skateable spots. Skate 2’s map is filled with a greater density of skateable spots, making it a far more compelling game to get lost in during a free skate session alone or with buddies.
1. Session: Skate Sim
Session: Skate Sim feels like the natural evolution of the skateboarding genre, following on the more realistic vision of games like the original Skate and Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy. It uses the dual-stick control scheme to greater effect than Skater XL. With a more robust trick selection, grounded physics, and better level design, Session: Skate Sim is what Skater XL aims to be. So many features such as tweakable gameplay settings — which are relegated to mods in Skater XL — are offered in the vanilla Session package. These optional modifiers let users make Session as forgiving or realistic as they want. While it is a skateboarding simulation at its core, it still provides the freedom to express oneself. Session: Skate Sim offers the most accurate depiction of skate culture on this list, along with the most rewarding gameplay experience.