Who is Jak?
Square Eyed Jak is an Australian YouTuber with nearly 50000 subscribers who focuses mainly on video games by doing reviews and game testing of various games. The newest addition are every level ranked videos that rank every level of a specific franchise. This has so far been done with, for instance, platforming series Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. However, the first one was a nearly two and a half hours video released in 2019 about every Tony Hawk level, which we’ll be looking at here. As a fan of the series, I watched the video as soon as I discovered it and liked it. I actually have a habit of rewatching the video occasionally, and as it is the channel’s most-watched video, I wanted to review it.
Tony Hawk’s and its relevancy to the channel
Tony Hawk’s is a series of arcade skateboarding games initially developed by Neversoft, with the first release being Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in 1999. The first three entries follow the basic format of completing simple objectives such as reaching score targets and collecting SKATE letters within the two-minute time limit. The series soon gained popularity and moved towards a story-driven direction. Unfortunately, after many glitchy releases like Pro Skater 5 in 2015, the series was buried until the 2020 remake of the first two games. Jak is a fan of the series and has held an annual event named Hawktober in October since 2017. The last two years have moved from Tony Hawk to, for instance, Disney skateboarding games, but the first three years focused on reviewing every mainline and portable entry on the franchise. Thus, the third event in 2019 culminated with “Every Tony Hawk Level RANKED! – 165 Levels from Worst to Best”.
How does the rating works?
Similar to many rankings, this also starts with rules, which is crucial due to the vast scope. To start, levels that have appeared several times are ranked as one, with only variants with major alterations being separate. Similarly, portable versions with related elements are ranked with the main versions. The ranking does not include unreleased levels, transitional areas, customizable areas, simple half-pipes, mission-specific areas, or tutorial levels. The rating itself is based on gameplay, including the fun aspect, possibilities for doing tricks, and slightly the themes. The important element is that the focus is on levels instead of the games themselves. Real-life correctness is also not a contributing factor. These criteria create a unique objective viewpoint that highlights the stages even from the worst entries. The placements might cause disappointment, but the argumentation is well-founded.
The watching experience – Overview
What exactly makes the video so delightful that I occasionally rewatch it? Simply put, the video is fun to watch all the way through. As I have played most of the levels ranked, it is fun to see them ranked and relive memories. There are occasionally new levels, but they are also interesting, as I like to increase my knowledge of my favorite games. The rules mentioned above also help with a pleasant watching experience, as the objective perspective is something I have wanted to see but have not stumbled upon previously. The video and Jak itself also contribute to the pleasant watching experience. Each level is discussed quite briefly making the video move forward quickly. On the other hand, Jak’s passion for the series shines through, as Jak finds even bad levels exciting. It is fun to see fellow enthusiast speak about the franchise. Moreover, Jak appreciates the audience by, for instance, asking the audience to pause the video and get food before the top 50. While I pause the video whenever I want, it is nice to see appreciation towards viewers. In addition, Jak’s funny commentary perfects the experience.
The watching experience – Familiar aesthetics
The pleasure of watching is enhanced with aesthetics similar to the franchise. It all starts from the logo at the start of the video, which is reminiscent of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 Neversoft’s logo. The same visual style continues in the level name and number sign, which has an eyeball logo of Neversoft. At last, the series is known for its punk-rock soundtrack, and even it is here. There are no original versions of the tracks, but there are chiptune versions and tracks from similar games. I keep these as essential parts of the franchise, and the inclusion of these in the video makes it authentic, almost like playing the game itself.
The watching experience – Uniqueness
Another reason for enjoyment is that I have not stumbled upon anything like this before on YouTube. The dedication to the topic is a common element, but videos are often simple top ten instead of ranking every level. Moreover, these videos might often lean towards personal opinions, so a more objective approach is welcome. The familiar aesthetics are also something I have not seen before. These create a unique and astounding watching experience, in which scope and large amount of work have to be praised!
Square Eyed Jak’s “Every Tony Hawk Level RANKED! – 165 Levels from Worst to Best” is a great, unique video with rules that allow any level to shine and an interesting watching experience with familiar aesthetics. I recommend it to the fans of the series. I also suggest watching the channel’s other content, such as ranking every Crash Bandicoot level, as they have the same passion.
Who? Square Eyed Jak – https://www.youtube.com/c/SquareEyedJak/videos
What? Every Tony Hawk Level RANKED! – 165 Levels from Worst to Best – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rZGwyZPggQ
Release date: 1.11.2019
Second picture: screenshot from the Square Eyed Jak YouTube main page, taken by the author
Rest of the pictures: screenshots from the video, taken by the author