Tony Hawk: Ride is a spin-off of the Tony Hawk skateboarding series. The game comes with a wireless peripheral shaped like a real skateboard, which is needed to play the game. Players stand on the board and then infrared sensors detect the motion to control the character in the game. Rather than merely turning, the game detects leaning for the force of the direction, raising the tail or nose (for manuals and ollies), and reaching down to mimic a grab which is registered through separate sensors in front and to the sides by blocking them with a hand. Pushing off is done by brushing a leg along the ground next to the board to gain speed. More complex tricks are done through leaning and twisting the board. There are three difficulty levels to play the game. On the lowest steering is done automatically and the player only needs to perform jumps and tricks. For higher levels steering is turned off, along with assists such as guiding lines.
The game consists of different environment that can be played in a free skating mode in parks or by completing missions in a campaign. The campaign takes place in cities all over the world with different game modes. Some of the included cities are Barcelona, Chicago, Frankfurt, New York and Tokyo. There is a challenge mode where specific objectives need to be completed. There are also game modes based around tricks and speed challenges, including skating in half-pipes. In an eS Ride mode similar to a H-O-R-S-E basketball game players mimic moves. Completing missions is needed to keep progressing through the game and unlock new regions.
At the start a custom skater can be created and gradually new items and gear and pro skaters are unlocked. The controls are introduced through multiple training videos. While skating a style meter is filled up by performing multiple successful tricks in succession. When full it adds visual flair to the moves with effects. The game supports competitive online multiplayer. Local multiplayer supports up to eight players taking turns. The Wii version does not have online multiplayer, but adds challenges to play as your own Mii.