Downhill Jam Still Sucks In Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2

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Gif: Activision / Kotaku
Gif: Activision / Kotaku

The new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 remake released this week is really good. As a long time fan, I’ve been unable to put it down. It feels like a classic Tony Hawk game, but with fancy visuals and some quality life of improvements. And also, Downhill Jam, a level from THPS1, still sucks.

I’m not mad that this original level sucks in the new remake. This is just another point in the game’s favour. The developers so accurately recreated the THPS 1+2 experience that they also recreated how badly designed and unfun Downhill Jam is and that should be applauded. They could have gone back, made some big tweaks and changes, and greatly improved the level. Instead, they made it look amazing but left all the badness in there.

So the map still has too many ramps that are closely clustered together. It still has the annoying and claustrophobic areas, like the terrible cave right after the big first gap. And as in the original, it is built to be fun (well as fun as Downhill Jam can be) in only one direction.

As the name of the level implies, you race downhill. Once you reach the end you respawn at the top. If you miss an item or objective you can try to fight gravity and go back up to get it or just race down the course and respawn at the start. Or just restart. It’s usually quicker to do that. Even if you decide to go back up, there’s not much to do on your trek back up the hill. Most maps in Tony Hawk games are open and allow you to explore freely during your timed run. If you miss the secret tape in say, Warehouse, you just flip around and on your way back you can hit some rails and ramps. On Downhill Jam, you just roll up steep inclines and avoid the backside of kickers, which from this approach are just annoying walls and not fun objects to ollie off of. It all sucks.

Mall, another level in the original game, works like this too, but at least Mall isn’t all built on an incline. So you can stop and hit the quarterpipe bowl near the elevators or grind some rails near the big leap off the balcony.

As a kid, I remember reaching Downhill Jam and being so confused. Why was this great and fun game now suddenly bad. Without the internet and my limited skills, I struggled on the level for days. Now kids today get to experience the same thing. They have the web though so they at least can find some tips and guides.

Sure, the devs behind this remake could have totally rebuilt and redesigned this level to make it better. But I’m happy they didn’t. It’s a reminder that even the classic games are filled with crap and beating all the goals today in 2020 felt like conquering an old enemy from my past. This is the same way I felt when I did it years ago in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. (It was bad in that game too.) And in 20 years when Activision remakes the remake and I have to play Downhill Jam again, I’ll be there to beat this annoying and bad level once more.

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Comments

  • The secret tape on this level was a pain, none of the things you do to get to it are particularly hard but a single mistake on any of the grinds and jumps and you are dropped down right back to the start in an instant fighting your way back up hill for another shot.

  • The whole time playing the game early on something in the back of my mind kept saying “Oh look, Downhill Jam is soon, I remember playing that level a lot for some reason, must be good.”
    Then I reached it…

    Have since switched over to some THPS2 levels for a break hahaha.

  • First timer on 1 (since I started with 3) and I didn’t really mind Downhill Jam. Part of it was finding some guides that gave pointers to things like the tape. It might be because I built up my Custom Skater’s speed a lot already, but rolling back uphill wasn’t that much of a pain and I could usually get a fair few tries in on the tape before I’d run out of time.

    I’m not sure why but I’m just not ‘feeling’ pipe gaps like I did back in 3 & 4, so I often do other things to get around them, like using wallrides on Downhill Jam, or grinding multiple beams to get on top of the commentary box in Burnside.

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