From the Roswell level to the Downhill Jam, the first Pro Skater has entertained fans for years with its great details. But which level is the best?
By Stephen Barker
Published 5 days ago
With remakes of old video games being all the hubbub in the industry at the moment, there are so many?games that?fans want a remake?of, but none deserved it more than the Pro Skater series. The first two games in the franchise were neatly packaged in to one whole game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. It was completely rebuilt from the ground up, with almost every song from the iconic soundtracks, and, of course, amazingly rendered versions of beloved levels.
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Though there are loads of great skating games, none are better than the Pro Skater series, and developer Vicarious Visions paid homage to original creator Neversoft in so many neat little ways. Between improved graphics, hidden references, and pure nostalgia, there’s barely a bad map among them in the first game.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the competition levels are the worst in the game, but even then, there are still a few good levels. There are some fun gaps to be found in the level and there’s even a poster commemorating the late, great Jeff Grosso, who passed away in March of 2020.
But all in all, Skatepark is a?very confined room with an oddly shaped pool and there are a bunch of great gaps to be found on that ramp alone. And there isn’t much more that can be added?to a map that’s based on a real-life indoor skate park.
As the competition skateparks are just that, skateparks, there simply aren’t any fun novelties or hidden areas, especially as they are designed for competitions.?However, one great thing in Burnside?is the bowl, which has been updated to look like the iconic Neversoft eye. And there’s a great aesthetic to the level as well, as the park is underneath an elevated train track and rain pours down beside it. But more than anything, the Burnside?trophies are incredibly difficult.
Set in Minneapolis, Downtown is one of the biggest maps in the first entry of the series, not only because it contains the different areas on the ground level, but there are some incredible bowls and ramps on top of buildings too.
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There’s so much detail in the level, whether it’s the grindable curtain rails in the movie theatre or the yellow cabs trying to run players over. Part of the fun of Downtown?is trying to reach those rooftops, as it requires skill, precision, and a ton of stat points.
Being the unlockable map that players get access to upon completing the game, Roswell is a fun level that’s fairly easy to perfect, but it has some classic THPS moments too. From the alien on the operating table behind the glass in the hidden area to the display of UFOs, it was the first?glimpse of the brilliantly over-the-top direction the series would go in years later. And it’s also why the skating series?would surprisingly make a great movie.
The original concept of Pro Skater was to have every level in the format of Downhill Jam, which sees plays zoom downhill to the finish line, and though that didn’t happen, there were two levels built like this in the original game. Downhill Jam is the first of the two, and it takes place on a dam between Nevada and Arizona.
And though it might seem simple at first, there are great and intricate moments to the level, such as wall-riding on?the valves to flood the place. The only downfall of the level is that it can be painfully difficult to rack up combos, as there’s constant momentum throwing the player downwards.
Being the second and last of the downhill maps of the entire series (excluding the actual game, Downhill Jam, which came years later,) Mall is similar to the Downhill Jam level in a lot of ways. There isn’t much room for variety due to the format of the level, but there are still loads of fun hidden details in the level, the sense of speed is unlike anything else, and it’s much easier to string together tricks in Mall than it is in Downhill Jam. That’s mostly due to the fact that there are fewer ramps and more rails.
Warehouse isn’t so beloved because it isn’t as dense as other levels or have as many hidden areas, but it’s simply nostalgic, and the location?is more memorable than almost any other level in the series.
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Even players who didn’t buy the game back in 1999 know the level, as it came as a free demo with almost every video game magazine, and it was played to death. Though Warehouse features a simple halfpipe with a few rails scattered around, it was the gateway to Pro Skater for many, and it was the first time players got to try out?the unprecedented?arcade mechanics.
The word “School” and the Pro Skater series go hand in hand. They are completely synonymous with each other, as School is the first of two entirely different School levels in the first two games, and they have been revamped so many times over the years.
Considering that the levels didn’t start getting huge until Pro Skater 2, School has so many different areas, from the indoor gym, the outdoor pool, the climbing frame, or the hard-to-reach rooftops. And the bright and colorful design of the level is what really makes it stand out. It’s a classic.
San Francisco might have been?depicted in movies so many times, but it doesn’t end?there, as the obsession with this city has continued into the video game world. From the Driver series to Watchdogs 2?to Need For Speed, every developer has had a go at rendering the west coast city.
However, no game has done it better than Pro Skater 1. The famous parts of San Francisco are milked for all they’re worth, but it’s a skating heaven. There’s the downhill rush of Lombard street, the ramp-ridden Chinatown, and the bowl containing Embarcadero all built and connected?into one area. It also features the very best rooftop Pro Skater has ever seen.
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