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Eric Sparrow

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Eric Sparrow
Tony Hawk's character
File:EricSparrowTHPG.jpg
Eric Sparrow, as he appears in Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (2007)
Created byNeversoft

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Eric Sparrow is a fictional character in the Tony Hawk's series of video games. Debuting in Tony Hawk's Underground, he serves as the game's main antagonist. He returns as a secondary antagonist in Underground 2, 2: Remix and Proving Ground, and has a minor appearance in Project 8.

An aspiring skateboarder, Eric betrays his best friend to turn professional and gain money and fame in Underground. In later entries, he is usually shown as an arrogant, yet largely inept, professional skateboarder. While he was not widely covered upon the initial release of the games, he was later recognized as one of the greatest and most hated villains in the history of video games.

Development[edit]

The aim of Underground's story mode was to create a dramatic and relatable narrative. Thus, the developers designed the original characters, including Eric, to captivate the player and immerse them into the storyline.[1] According to the game's developers, the secret ending, where the player character knocks Sparrow out, was included because the staff itself hated him so much they wanted to see him punished.[2] Xalavier Nleson Jr. noted that while the game's graphics and facial animations are rudimentary, a great amount of detail is put into Sparrow's facial expressions, as if to emphasize his treacherous nature.[3] While Sparrow is usually a non-player character, it is possible to unlock him as a playable character in Underground,[4] Underground 2, 2: Remix,[5] and Proving Ground[6] if certain conditions are met or via cheat codes, where he can be used in all modes except story mode. In all of his appearances, he is voiced by Benjamin Diskin.

Fictional character biography[edit]

In Underground, Sparrow starts out as the best friend of the player character. With both characters aspiring to become professional skateboarders, Eric advises the protagonist to impress Chad Muska in order to raise Stacy Peralta's attention and get signed to his team. During their quest, Sparrow sets a drug dealer's car on fire and forces the pair to flee to Manhattan. After they make it to a contest in Tampa, Florida, Eric gets arrested and bailed out by the player character. However, he deliberately fails to send in the protagonist's application to eliminate him from the contest. Nevertheless, the player character enters the contest and defeats an enraged Eric. Both end up signing for the same team and are sent to Hawai'i to film a video. Here, Sparrow steals the video tape of the player character's spectacular stunt over a police helicopter and passes the footage off as his own, earning him immediate fame and the status of a pro skater. The furious player character then defeats Eric in a contest at the Slam City Jam, and thus becomes a pro as well. Still on the same team, a drunken Eric takes a Russian army tank on a joyride through Moscow, and blames the ensuing crash on the player character, who is subsequently expelled from the team and left in Russian custody. After he returns to New Jersey, he challenges Eric, now a rich and successful professional skateboarder, to a final contest for the unedited footage of the helicopter stunt, which he wins.[7]

In Underground 2 and 2: Remix, Eric, along with the player character, is part of the group of skateboarders kidnapped by Tony Hawk and Bam Margera to take part in their "World Destruction Tour". Competing for the opposing "Team Bam" for most of the contest, except for Berlin, where he has to swap teams with the player character, Eric is largely shown as the most inept member of his team. When the tour arrives in Australia, both he and the protagonist score the fewest points on their respective teams, which are tied. To decide a winner, both have to humiliate a filmmaker selling illegal footage of the tour. Eric merely steals his clothes, which enrages Margera to the point he hands the clothes to the player character to outdo Eric. After the challenge, Eric is eliminated from his team and left behind with no money to return home.[8]

While he cannot be encountered in Project 8, he appears on the leaderboards of the game's campaign mode, constantly changing positions.[9] He returns as an antagonist in Proving Ground, having relocated to Baltimore. He engages in an argument with the player character,[lower-alpha 1] who he regards an inferior skater, until their fight is broken off by Bob Burnquist. Throughout the episode, the player character defeats him in several local skateboarding competitions, until they have a final standoff in Eric's homepark in Lansdowne. Desperate, Sparrow challenges the player character to a last competition with his car on the line, which he also loses. In a post-credits scene, Eric is shown lamenting the player character's success, only to be berated by Burnquist.[10]

Reception and legacy[edit]

When the Tony Hawk's games were originally released, Sparrow was not discussed in depth in reviews, being described simply as "irritating"[11] and "annoying",[12] with IGN calling him a weasel.[13] As time moved on however, various outlets have named him one of the most hated or memorable video game villains of all time. Ray Porecca of Destructoid called his betrayal of the player character "one of gaming's most memorable acts of villainy", and named Sparrow "the ultimate snake in the grass."[14] In another article, Porecca included him in a list of gaming's greatest villains, calling the theft of the tape "one of gaming’s greatest betrayals", ensuring that "legions of gamers still to this day curse his name a decade after THUG’s release."[15] In a list of aspects of the Tony Hawk's series, Kelly Earley remembered him as "the most irritating rival since Gary from Pokémon", who would still invoke rage in fans of the series.[16] Ben Wright, who included Sparrow in a list of the 10 most annoying video game characters of all time, noted that before Petyr Baelish of Game of Thrones, "the world’s biggest two-timing backstabber was Eric Sparrow."[17] In a list of video game characters that gamers wished they could kill, Ben Morgan called Sparrow the absolute worst type of person,[18] similarly, punching him in the game's true ending was included in a list of the most satisfing punches in video games by GamesRadar+[19] Kevin Spence named Sparrow the most annoying character of Underground.[20] In a lengthy opinion piece centered on Sparrow as "gaming’s best villain", Xalavier Nelson Jr. of Polygon called him "the worst humanity had to offer." Stating, "I hate him more than any other fictional being I can recall", he went on to state that Sparrow inspires intense hatred, not because he is evil, but because he is "petty to the point of cruelty" in a way so realistic, that every player immediately relates. Nelson considered Sparrow's character and conception to be "the most brilliant storytelling innovation [he had] ever seen in game narrative", so great in fact that Sparrow "carries the entire game on his shoulders", and has become synonymous with the game, overshadowing the skateboarding.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. A different player character than in the Underground games, who he is not affiliated with.

References[edit]

  1. Perry, Douglass C. (October 6, 2003). "Tony Hawk's Underground: Hands-On". IGN. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. Hester, Blake (January 16, 2019). "From Busted Teeth to Broken TVs: The Oral History of Tony Hawk's Underground". US Gamer. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nelson Jr., Xalavier (February 11, 2020). "Tony Hawk's Underground gave us gaming's best villain". Polygon. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  4. Tony Hawk's Underground
  5. Tony Hawk's Underground 2 and Tony Hawk's Underground 2: Remix
  6. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
  7. Tony Hawk's Underground
  8. Tony Hawk's Underground 2 and Tony Hawk's Underground 2: Remix
  9. Tony Hawk's Project 8
  10. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
  11. Silverman, Ben (November 1, 2003). "Tony Hawk's Underground Review". Game Revolution. Archived from the original on June 2, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. Silverman, Ben (October 21, 2014). "Tony Hawk's Underground 2". Game Revolution. Archived from the original on January 5, 2017. Retrieved September 6, 2017. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. Perry, Douglass C. (October 6, 2003). "Tony Hawk's Underground: Hands-On". IGN. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. Porecca, Ray (June 21, 2018). "Tony Hawk's Underground is pretty cool for a teenager". Destructoid. Archived from the original on July 10, 2018. Retrieved August 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  15. Porecca, Ray (July 25, 2013). "Remembering Five Of Gaming's Greatest Villains". Entertainment Buddha. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. Earley, Kelly (August 19, 2017). "17 memories that anyone who was obsessed with Tony Hawk's video games will relate to". Daily Edge. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  17. Wright, Ben (March 8, 2017). "The 10 Most Annoying Video Game Characters Of All Time". X Geeks. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  18. Morgan, Brandon (June 21, 2017). "Incredibly Annoying: 15 NPCs we seriously wanted to kill". The Gamer. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  19. Henry Gilbert, Ben Griffin (July 26, 2014). "Greatest hits! The 19 most satisfying punches in games". The Gamer. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  20. Morgan, Brandon (Jul 15, 2013). "16 Annoying Game Characters I'd Like to Falcon Punch in the Mouth". Game Skinny. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)


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