When Tony Hawk’s Underground added a proper story to the series, it created the most dastardly villain imaginable to oppose the player.
While the remakes for the original two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games have shed some new light on the classic and beloved franchise, the series wasn’t always about pure, arcade-y enjoyment. Starting with Tony Hawk’s Underground, the THPS series approached its career modes with a greater focus on narrative and storytelling. The series invented a few original characters for this purpose, one of whom is undoubtedly one of the most despicable video game villains of all time.
The Pro Skater franchise always had a very loose, implied plot thread hidden behind its arcade ruleset and sandbox level design. Even its earliest titles still actualized the fantasy of a low-level street kid who starts out skating their local schoolyard, gradually making their way up skateboarding’s ranks to become a bonafide pro who shreds up big-budget competitions. This narrative progression was simply never outlined for the player through character action. Tony Hawk’s Underground changed all of this, however, by adding cinematic elements to the game’s underlying plot. In THUG, the custom skater’s journey to stardom is illustrated through not just gameplay but proper cutscenes and serious dialogue to drive the story forward. And, unfortunately for the player, every good underdog story needs a great villain.
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Evil, thy name is Eric Sparrow. This no-good punk is originally introduced as the player’s best friend and fellow pro skater-wannabe. The two pals grew up in the slums of New Jersey together, grinding rails and kickflipping stairs with the eventual goal of earning some cash and recognition for their skills. At first, things seem hunky dory between the two, and Sparrow always has the player’s back in a pinch. When the two get in trouble with local drug dealers, it’s Sparrow who secures a safe hiding spot in New York. He even helps the player film their first skate demo, which earns them an amateur sponsorship from the legendary Stacy Peralta. Unfortunately, once this happens, Eric Sparrow begins to show his true colors.
Tony Hawk’s Underground’s Truly Evil Villian
Sparrow conveniently “forgets” to sign up the player for a tournament which could earn them their first big chance at skater stardom. When the player manages to enter the tournament anyway (by impressing Toy Hawk himself) and wins, Sparrow is livid, as the player leaves him behind to travel the world skating for one of the larger skate companies. Sparrow eventually catches up to the player and sabotages their chance at pro status by stealing footage of the player’s most unbelievable stunt. This dirty deed earns Sparrow a pro sponsorship instead of the player, and, once again, they are forced to illegally enter a pro-level tournament in order to beat their rival and prove their skills.