Finding the best skateboard games on PC is no mean feat as the genre enjoyed its heyday during the PS2 and Xbox 360 console generation. Don’t feel like you’re in too deep, though, as plenty of these gems are on PC, too. They’re just not on Steam as they came out when physical copies were all the rage. There’s a memory to make you ask ‘what’s my age, again?’
Nothing quite captures a moment in time like a good skateboarding game. The mixture of balance and aggression in grinding a rail and the graceful swagger of transitioning into a manual with a kickflip thrown in for good measure. All that, naturally, backed by an energetic soundtrack that seamlessly switches from thrash metal belters and pop punk fare to classic West Coast hip hop – the best skateboarding games ooze with style.
We’re not just reminiscing old games here either, as we’ve also included a number of new and upcoming skateboard games that you may not have heard of.
The best skateboard games on PC are:
We could talk about how Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2’s gameplay brought a greater sense of balance and skill to the rough and tumble of skateboarding, but first we’d like to single out the music. The extreme sport has always rolled hand-in-hand with a particular spirit of rebellion, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 taps into that wonderfully with its soundtrack.
As you ollie and grind, you’re spurred on by tracks such as You by Bad Religion and Guerilla Radio by Rage Against the Machine – various artists featured in Tony Hawks have even gone on to say that being featured in the game made them famous. The music wouldn’t land without quality gameplay to support it. Much like its predecessor, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 retains its arcadey feel as you roll off lengthy button combinations to pull off elaborate tricks that occasionally defy physics. If you’re feeling like Superman, you can thread in some grinds and manuals to test your sense of balance. But it’s the precise controls of Pro Skater 2 that make it so satisfying to play even now.
Every button press and movement lands exactly as you want it to, ensuring you always feel in control of your combos and, ultimately, at fault when you bail. This one is a true classic, and easily one of the best pc games you can throw your time into.
If any game best represents skater culture in the mid-2000’s then it has to be Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, which eschews a great deal of the extreme sports trappings in exchange for style and Jackass-inspired stunts. THUG2 came out when Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi and the off-board and the antics of stunt and prank TV show Jackass, which features cameos from skateboarders like Tony Hawk and Bam Margera, were popular. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 feels like Neversoft’s attempt at infusing that humour and personality with the series tight controls and endless combos.
You play as your own up-and-coming skateboarder who ends up tagging along with Tony Hawk and Bam Magera on their World Destruction Tour. That tour takes you through an eclectic mix of locales from Barcelona and Berlin, to Philly and New Orleans, although this time around you’ll spend a great deal more time setting up ludicrous stunts and pranks then stringing together combos.
The OlliOlli games are 2D minimalist skateboarding indie games without any of the attitude of the Tony Hawk games. Thanks to Roll7’s focused approach, we get a streamlined skateboard game that strips gameplay down to the bear essentials: timing and precision.
OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood takes the first game’s formula and turns all the dials up to 11. Each level is a short sprint from left to right where you must complete challenges to get a five-star rating, which will unlock additional levels. These challenges can vary from landing every manual, revert, and gap perfectly,to getting racking up high-scores. Roll7’s simple manual mechanic also proves to be a game changer as it allows you to link moves together and complete entire levels all in one combo.
Okay, this one isn’t technically a skateboarding game, but it demands your attention nevertheless. Like a lot of the best skateboard games, Jet Set Radio is head-over-heels in love with the fluid movement and balletic combos. Mastering it isn’t easy though, and you’ll have to put in some grind in to get to grips with it.
It also shares a particular spirit with other skating games in embracing the spirit of youth culture and rebellion. You play as an inline skater who tags a fictional version of Tokyo with graffiti while gliding away from figures of authority. Stringing all this together is the DJ of the Jet Set Radio pirate radio station, who broadcasts a thumping soundtrack to you. When you tune in, expect music that combines everything from J-pop and hip hop to funk and electronic dance.
Skater XL is one of the newer skateboarding entries on the list, and it’s in early access right now. It comes from Easy Day Studios, which developed the surprisingly realistic Skater for mobile.
Easy Day Studios’ pitch is all about realism. That means no more triple kickflips while somersaulting through the air, instead pulling off tricks feels more considered, making even the humble ollie feel satisfying to land. You can position your feet how you like and place the board how you want, too. A swathe of legendary spots also inspires the map so you can shred on the same ramps, grinds, and gaps as the greats.
Heads up: More upcoming PC games to expect soon
Don’t think that you won’t have anyone to show off to, however, as there’s also a video capture mod so you can throw together your reel.
Easily the most wholesome entry on this list, this game-to-be is about a bird on a small board with a big heart. The pitch is that your Big Friend has bailed on their skateboard for good and is stuck in a dead-end job they hate.
To cheer them up, you’ll build a makeshift park out of staplers, rulers, and other bits and bobs you can find around a room. The more your skills improve, the more your following on Tweeter (geddit?) grows, which leads to more skater birds coming to your park.
Details on the gameplay are currently thin on the ground, but the game’s developer, Glassbottom Games, says on Steam that it’ll be more like the Tony Hawk games than Skate, meaning less skill-intensive gameplay that’s more about the joy of skateboarding itself. If the smooth jazz over the trailer is anything to go by, this looks like a relaxing game you’ll be able to sink some runs into.
Session kickflipped into the public eye during E3 2018 with a reveal trailer, and it’s due to come out this year. So far it’s shaping up to be a spiritual successor to EA’s Skate and even features its dual analogue control scheme where each stick represents a different leg, which makes it feel like a retro game. How that’ll translate to PC, it’s hard to tell, but with these types of games, you typically want to play with a controller.
There’s also an emphasis on balance in the gameplay, from finding the sweet spot on a rail to mastering the landing or holding a manual. You’ll also find that there isn’t a scoring system, meaning that you’re free to string together combos based on what moves you reckon will look the best, rather than as a means to hit a score. Once you have your perfect combo nailed, you can record it and share it online.
And there you have it, the best skateboard games to attract any Sk8er boi or girl. They may not be coming as thick and fast as they did in the early 2000’s when when the likes of EA and Activision where churning them out.
Landed: The best new PC games in 2019
Thankfully, however, plenty of indie developers are keeping the genre alive and are looking to stamp their mark on this beloved genre. You never know, either, we could still get another Tony Hawk’s game or see Skate come to PC.