On the 11th Of May 2010, a game was released that would define many of our childhoods – Skate 3.
Made by Black Box, a subdivision of EA at the time, Skate 3 was the third in a well known trilogy of skateboarding games. As a fourth Skate game is currently in active development, a refresher of the last game in the series, as well as a look back on one of my favourite childhood games, is long overdue.
Black Box is now shuttered, its doors collecting rust as another one of EA’s tragic closures, but the memories I gained from Skate 3 live on, in all their ridiculous, over the top, miracle whipped glory.
Nobody will ever tell you that Skate 3 was a perfect game. But that was part of its charm. It was fun to glitch jump a mile high off a solid wall by the Super Ultra Mega Park, it was hysterical when we used the massive head cheat code to cause minor head injuries while soaring through Carverton Quarry at 70mph, and it was an incredible sense of achievement as we somehow got onto the top of the shark jump building by using ramps stacked on top of each other.
Glitches were baked into Skate 3’s DNA, and it was all the better for it. Ridiculous, unrealistic physics were what made the game so much fun, as we barreled through the Pipe Works, unable to stop but able to flip out of the pipe and into a skate park twenty metres below. Nobody will tell you this was a perfect game, but Skate 3’s imperfections were what made the game so endearing, especially for me, and in future the Skate reboot may be ultra realistic and clean of glitches, but the soul of the last game remains.
Part of the fun was the over the top campaign. At the start of Skate 3 you wake up after gaining amnesia from a failed trick, and you’re instantly back into skate training. You learn from Coach Frank, a completely insane PE teacher looking man who can apparently skate as well as shout instructions. It’s after passing this incredibly serious skate training that you partner up to begin your board selling career.
Everything you do as part of the Skate 3 campaign sells boards. You complete a deathrace? Here’s some boards sold. You win a street contest? More boards sold. You do a Hall Of Meat challenge and break fifteen bones? Boards. I still to this day have no idea how your character in Skate 3 sold boards by breaking his back in five different ways, but that’s the magic of Skate 3.
There’s so many different ways to progress the campaign that it never gets boring. Own The Spot, Team Contests, Photo Shoots, all are completely different ways to earn board sales in this game. As a wise person once said, any publicity is good publicity, and Skate 3 really grasps this mantra by the head and creates an incredibly fun game around it.
As all games go however, the campaign can only be as good as the mechanics themselves. And my God, Skate 3 was fun to play. Even today, with games such as Rider’s Republic and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remake, nothing even comes close to how much fun your character is to control in Skate 3. It just feels so natural. Right stick controls your board and feel, left stick controls direction, and press A to go. What could be simpler and yet provide more of a skill ceiling than that? Left trigger controls left hand, and right trigger to control right hand; these controls were designed by players, not someone looking to cram as many controls as possible to confuse the player and add to an already expansive pool of moves and tricks.
It’s so easy to pick up and play that I’ve taught mates and family alike how to do tricks, and it never takes long before they become pro skaters. It really takes a special set of developers to create such a consumer friendly set of controls that feel just as fun during hour one as they do after hour thirty. I still pick up and play this game when I’m bored, and that’s, what, six years after I got into the game? I know, it was released in 2010, but I was only eight at the time and for some reason the game was rated 16, I managed to get my hands on it just slightly later at fourteen.
Part of the reason why the game never got old was the sheer amount of customization and user ownership over the game that existed within Skate 3. I remember going to my Xbox 360, logging in, and going straight to the user created content section. There was always so much to do, and so many tracks, that I literally had unlimited playspace to learn new tricks on.
Going back to the board selling, as you sold more boards, you unlocked more customization options. As this continued, eventually new gameplay features became available to you. First, you unlocked a small flat area inside a warehouse where you could create your own small skate park. When I unlocked this, I spent hours inside, creating my own playable space, experimenting with placeable ramps and grind rails. It’s how I learned most of the tricks in the game. Little did I know, however, that I would be getting a whole lot more to customise later on.
After you reach a certain milestone in Skate 3’s campaign, you unlock the best thing the already massive game could have given you – an enormous, pre-built, fully customizable professional skate park. It comes with an enormous jump, grind locations by the dozen and so many different ways to flip and trick that it allows for almost unlimited possibilities. I spent hours and hours and hours flicking through community parks that people had made using this premade skate park, downloading them and building a portfolio of my favourite ones.
Unfortunately, the account I downloaded these on no longer exist, but they continue to exist in my fond recollections of my time with them. Community builds can honestly make or break a game like Skate 3, and they really did play a part making this game as great as it was.
Even before the community efforts, there was already a ridiculous amount to do in Skate 3. The map of Port Carverton was huge. For a game at the time, and especially a sports game by technicality, Skate 3 really was ahead of its time. There were many areas with points of interest, huge ramps built from slopes and buildings, areas filled with NPCs, multiple skate parks, and the entire thing was totally interconnected. Doing the jump through the cave at Carverton Quarry and then skating down the road all the way to the bottom of the map is still among my favourite things to do in the game.
And there are still things I haven’t discovered! Did you know that you can drop in off the lip of the ramp by the halfpipe in the Super Ultra Mega Park, fall off a fifteen metre drop and then go all the way around the halfpipe? I didn’t! Until a month ago! The map is just so big and full of opportunities, none of it gets old. In fact, even after not playing for a year and returning in late 2021 to the game, I could still remember my favourite locations.
Only very few games attain this status in my memory, and Skate 3 more than deserves a part as one of my favourite games of the 360 generation. It’s easily the most future proof old sports game ever made, and in my mind deserves a place in the Xbox 360 hall of fame as one of the best games released during that period.
Tune back in when I upload my article on the things I’d most like to see return or be added to the Skate Reboot, and comment below with your favourite memories from Skate 3, or any of the Skate Trilogy!
You can play Skate 3 on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S right now. It’s currently on Game Pass via EA Play too – just hit up the Xbox Store.