Why Tony Hawks Pro Skater left out skateboarding's other biggest star
Plus, the 20-year-old mystery of a bizarre Tony Hawk cheat code is finally answered.
There are a lot of unanswered questions about Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. During an interview for the new documentary film Pretending I'm a Superman, Inverse posed two big questions to series producer Ralph D'Amato, who worked on the Tony Hawk games from their inception until the 2006 game Tony Hawk's Project 8:
- Where was Andy Macdonald?
- Who were the two unnamed women whose pictures could be activated via a cheat code?
We finally know the answers. Kind of.
Where was Andy Macdonald in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater?
Andy Macdonald is a champion skateboarder who has won more X Games medals in vert skating than anyone else. And yet, Macdonald was bizarrely absent throughout the series.
As it turns out, the dip in popularity of vertical ramp ("vert") skating led to Macdonald's absence, as his specialty was vert. However, an abandoned "vert duos" feature, which the developers of Tony Hawk never figured out to work, would have featured Macdonald, a renowned skater who (in addition to his own accomplishments) is known for his partnership with Tony Hawk.
Veteran Pro Skater producer Ralph D'Amato tells Inverse it was because of the games' unofficial nature as a street skating franchise that it omitted Andy Macdonald as a playable skater.
"The room for vert skaters was small," D'Amato says. "As the series progressed, [there was] the fall of vert skating. It focused on street skating. There weren't places for vert skaters, which is what Andy is."
Skateboarding is split between two styles: Street skating and vertical ramp ("vert") skating. Most of the Pro Skater series revolved around street skating, despite Hawk's own style being vert. Both Hawk and Macdonald are renowned for their synchronous vert skating. (If Tony Hawk is the sport's Michael Jordan, Andy Macdonald is Scottie Pippen.) So it's strange a pro skater of Macdonald's caliber was never in the games.
But something D'Amato says the Pro Skater team tried to work out was a "vert duos" feature, in which players could skate co-cooperatively on a vert ramp. As D'Amato recalls, the feature didn't get far in development, so it's unknown how it would have looked and played.
"We kicked around at one point some type of doubles," D'Amato says. "If we were able to ever pull off doubles where two people skate vert, Andy, because he was Tony's partner, was a shoo-in. But it had to do with vert slowing down and street skating taking off. The bigger stars coming out were street skaters."
For clarification, we ask D'Amato if vert duos would have been a separate spin-off game, maybe in the vein of Tekken Tag Tournament, but D'Amato says that wasn't the case. It would have been a feature within the core game, but it never happened.
Ludvig Gur, director of the documentary Pretending I'm a Superman that chronicles the rise and fall of the Pro Skater franchise, is a living encyclopedia of the games. He says there were moments in the series that had vert duo skating, though they were simple missions ("goals," in the game's unique parlance) rather than a stand-alone feature.
"You did [duos] in Tony Hawk 4, with Steve Caballero," Gur remembers. He also remembers the final mission of the 2006 game Tony Hawk's Project 8 involving vert duos. "I think the reason that didn't work out is because, by that time, the physics in the game became less realistic. By that time you could skate up a vert and do the 900."
A Tony Hawk's Pro Skater secret, finally uncovered
There are a lot of gems fans remember about theTony Hawk games. Area 51, invaded by anime fans last summer, was a secret level in the original game. And because of Neversoft's then-agreement with Marvel, Spider-Man was a secret skater in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, with Wolverine and Iron Man joining in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and Tony Hawk's Underground, respectively.
But one secret that has mystified fans for decades are two black and white pictures of unidentified women hidden in the game. As explained in a 2017 YouTube video, two cheat codes — inputted at the pause screen — would activate the image of two women, roughly in their late 20s or early 30s.
"That's it," says the narrator of the Super Nostalgic video. "No bonuses, no hidden levels. Just a photo of a random girl." One of them is rumored to be credited in the game as "Linda T."
For a long time, fans speculated one of the women was Tony Hawk's second wife, Erin Lee, who was married to Hawk at the time of the game's release. But D'Amato says it's not. D'Amato also confirms he was not involved with these secrets; these cheat codes were in the Nintendo 64 ports of the game, which was over overseen by Edge of Reality, a separate studio than Neversoft. Still, D'Amato is aware of the photos, and has an answer to the 20-plus year mystery. Sort of.
"We didn't do that. That was the N64 version," D'Amato tells Inverse. "I was told [they were] one of the lead designers or CEO's wife or girlfriend. I know there was a thing going around that was Tony's wife but that wasn't the case. That was someone at Edge of Reality's wife or fiance, as a nod for whatever help he could get through. I can only guess someone else on the team was like, 'I'm going to do it too.' That's all I know."
Pretending I'm a Superman is available now on VOD.