Have You Played… Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Why 3? Because I never played 1, and 3 has the airport. Good enough? Yes. KICKFLIP!

The Tony Hawk series may have become a disastrous farce a long while back, but there was a day when Old Man Skatey’s name in the title really meant something. The first few Pro Skater games were properly ace. Not properly ace skateboarding games – that’s precisely why the more recent efforts have become so dreadful. Properly ace platform games.

Levels were huge arenas to roll around, kickflipping to nosebleeds or something, as you glided down poles, leapt onto the lips of giant foundry smelting pots, or the baggage conveyor belts of an airport. Betwixt these were competitions, where you had to string together high scores, but these eschewed realism for awesome jumping and flapping around, manualling between ramps, wowing judges with your button mashing prowess.

And in Pro Skater 3, those levels were just utterly marvellous. The airport especially, and also the wonderful Suburbia complete with its phone wire traversal. Tokyo, the game’s final level, was just enormous! All were exquisitely well put together places, enormous fun to explore, dig out secrets, and complete ridiculous goals like splatting pumpkins or burying bullies.


  1. Prolar Bear says:

    Oh yell yes I have. Spent a lot of time on THPS2 and 3 as a kid. For some reason, I remember finding those games somewhat eerie\creepy at times.

    • poliovaccine says:

      I did too, actually… I think it’s the solitude, the emptiness of the world should you ever slow down enough to investigate it, and therefore the horrible grueling “Speed”-like need for constant momentum; for without that continuous movement, the hollow, weary horror of the dead world would immediately begin to seep in at you and accrete like moulder and rot upon your soul, and then altogether fall apart… I find something perennially creepy about the “beaten video game” feeling in general – the feeling of lingering in an expended world is so depressing to me, sometimes I do it just to experience the eerie reliability of that claustrophobic feeling…

      For instance, I loved the game Mafia when I was younger, but throughout the campaign I guess I always assumed the “Free Ride” option was boring on purpose and “Free Ride Extreme” would have more to do than pick fights with otherwise peaceful rival gangsters, and get in your car and speed… but it didn’t, it was just a few weirdo missions to get a few weirdo cars, which were arcade goof-offs and not in line with the ethos of the rest of the game. I was so put off I enlisted an equally put-off friend and we started a mod to make “Free Ride” worth a damn (it was called the CoLD mod if anyone remembers it, we actually had an early version selected for inclusion on a cover disc w an issue of PC Gamer US! we were like 14, it was very exciting).

      But that whole mod was basically a response to my absolute adoration of the game, as it seemed to be everything I wanted GTA3 to be but wasn’t, and yet its having no GTA-style “Free Ride” potential whatsoever and feeling profoundly empty and ersatz as a result… I wasn’t ready to stop playing the game, but driving around in “Free Ride” as it was, I got the eerie feeling of enclosure and entropy and *simulation* so badly I literally learned how to make a major modification for a czech video game just to make it stop. Even just quitting the game didn’t seem enough – it was as if the AIs would be so pitifully trapped in that wretched, profoundly limited universe that I couldn’t bear to leave them to that fate..! How would I feel, after all, if some god did the same to me..??

      I may be projecting here, but in any case, I too found the Tony Hawk games rather creepy sometimes, but especially in single player. I feel a little sad, not for my sake but for the sake of the world I’m in, every time I go to open one of its doors and realize it’s just painted on… tho for my own sake’s sake, it does give me a “real life” vibe not unlike what you get watching “The Truman Show.” But Tony Hawk games, to me at least, felt like wandering the freshly-beaten level in some first-person shooter, just before hitting the checkpoint to continue, and surveying all the ragdolled dead and the decaled blood on the walls.. your only method of interacting with these AIs has been to kill them, and you’ve “interacted” with them all… there is no one left in the whole wide world to “interact” with… ever see that episode of the Twilight Zone, where all the guy wants to do is relax and read but his horrible wife won’t let him, until one day it’s the apocalypse, and now he finally has all the time in the world – but he breaks his glasses? Yeah…

  2. Llewyn says:

    Does it let you skate against the Moldovans?

  3. Josh W says:

    Yeah fabulous game, also amusing when you talk to people about music from their childhood, and depending on age, they are some combination of the guitar hero and tony hawks soundtracks.

  4. AirRaid says:

    THPS3 was kind of the retarded cousin of the first four games. A lot of what it tried to do was kinda prototype and not well implemented. 4 Took all the concepts they introduced in 3 and polished them off, making a properly useful trick comboing system (for double kickflips and the like), and the maps were bigger too.

    I did have loads of great times playing Capture the Flag on Airport in THPS3 though.

  5. GAmbrose says:

    Is that guy pissing, off the roof of a building?

    • AirRaid says:

      Yes. There was a goal in that map to knock him off the ledge.

  6. Zankman says:

    The only Tony Hawk game I have really played, it was great fun!

    Spent loads of time playing it and sometimes struggling to compete objectives. I was bad at the game and to be fair, English back then.

  7. ikehaiku says:

    Oh I played it all right.
    And I broke many a PlayStation controller while doing so…
    That one, and pretty much all of the other up to Wasteland.
    Then, I had a gaming PC and longer access to a console…I had serious withdrawal symptoms.
    Turns out, it was a blessing in disguise, allowing me to witness the sinking of this once great series from afar.

  8. Premium User Badge

    johannsebastianbach says:

    I think THPS 4 was the best of all. It just hit the sweet spot between semi-realistic levels/skateboarding and ridiculousness in combos/story etc.
    I should power up my old PowerBook to run it, I’m sure I will enjoy it just as in the oldern days.

  9. Keypuncher says:

    This was a great one, though not perfect of course but for sure better than any of the travesties not created by Neversoft. Here is a podcast all about the Tony Hawk series if anyone is interested link to youtu.be

  10. iambecomex says:

    Like 2 but better, like 4 without the beginnings of bloat, and just infinitely superior to all that THUG drivel, 3 is absolutely the sweet spot of the series. Although it’s thanks to the decline of the series that I discovered the glorious glory of SSX3, the only thing better than THPS3 in the whole extremely gnarly extremeious x-sports stuff.

  11. drinniol says:

    IT HAD DARTH MAUL ON A HOVERBOARD. Best in series. He would choke the dude behind the counter in the select screen too.