When I was 20 my girlfriend at the time house-sat for these people who went on vacation for a week. I'm guessing that when they asked her to house-sit they wanted her to feed their pets and keep an eye on things, and that they didn't really want me and my friend Mark to be over there all the time playing their Gamecube. But y'know, 20 year olds are stupid.
At the time, I think the only games I had for Gamecube were Luigi's Mansion and Super Mario Sunshine. I think? I know I didn't have many yet, because 20 year olds also don't have much disposable income. So when we discovered Pro Skater 3 in these people's house, it was pretty much the only thing we did that week. We also watched Mulholland Drive. But mostly we played Pro Skater 3 and for some reason I remember listening to the Melvins album Stag over and over again.
Anyway, by this point I was a huge fan of the Tony Hawk games. A year or two earlier I had played the first two games on my college roommate's Dreamcast. And THPS3 just blew me away. You can argue that THPS2 is "the best," and I can see that. But something about 3 just feels like this perfect refinement. The addition of manuals meant that combos could go on forever. And since I tend to prefer street skating to ramps in the game, this was huge for me.
So I've played THPS3 plenty over the years. And in my mind, it'll forever be a Gamecube game, since that's how I originally played it. I'm playing it now and testing out these "Hip Gear" portable Gamecube monitor I nabbed off ebay. The monitor itself is pretty beat up and has some dead pixel lines on the screen. The resolution is bad and blurry, and there's a lot of noise coming from the speaker. But... man, it's still fun.
THPS3 definitely takes advantage of the hardware. The graphics are excellent, but more importantly the stages are huge. The challenges feel way bigger and more satisfying to figure out. Some stuff easily comes back to me, while other challenges like secret tapes can take a while for me to remember where they are.
I coasted through the Foundry, completed several challenges in Canada, got a silver in the first competition and am now just tackling Suburbia and going back to Canada in between. This game still rules.