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The Hidden Truth Behind The Tony Hawk's Underground Plot

The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise got a huge second wind with the recent release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 +2, reimagining the levels from the first two games while adding some real quality of life improvements from the later games.


The franchise started back in 1999 on the original PlayStation and currently has more than 20 entries, spanning four generations of home consoles and mobile devices. While the first few games focused on a more straightforward approach featuring high score and objective challenges, later games had full-on storylines, and even later games featured an ill-conceived physical peripheral.

The first of these reverts from the traditional formula was Tony Hawk's Underground in 2003. The game, more commonly referred to as "THUG," featured larger levels, additional difficulty options, and a story arc following the created player-character on their rise to glory and inevitable humbling experiences.

While this story has been told several times before in video games, this has one of the more interesting hidden meanings behind it.


Grinds or glamor?

Tony Hawk's Underground follows you and your friend Eric Sparrow, as you both do whatever it takes to become famous skateboarders. Along the way, you impress famous skaters and photographers as you build your reputation, earn sponsorships, and travel the globe to further your career, fame, and fortune.


The story shows you focusing more on the glamor of the pro skating life as opposed to skating for fun, turning your back on the underground nature of skateboarding and being more interested in the spotlight. After a betrayal and introspection, you come to realize why you started skateboarding to begin with.

Unbeknownst to gamers at the time, this was in parallel with Tony Hawk himself. Many in the skateboarding world branded him a sellout since he was giving his name to a major corporation and making tons of money while forgetting the humble beginnings of the sport which he helped make mainstream. 

This was his answer, showing he hasn't forgotten his roots — but also making a ton of money in the process.