10 One-Off Video Game Levels That Totally Change Everything

Batman: Arkham Knight's final level is a fever dream of pure brilliance.

Batman Arkham Knight Joker
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

When you play a video game, there's quite often one level or section that sticks in your mind far longer afterwards than anything else. It may not be the biggest or most visually stunning or even one you particularly enjoy, but one thing's for certain: it sure is a hell of a change-up to the formula.

Imagine you're playing a game where the settings and gameplay remain pretty similar throughout, then suddenly you're dumped into a level that completely subverts everything you've come to expect from it. One minute, you're shooting your way through generic corridor #452; the next, you're hopping about from rock to rock in outer space?!

That's not exaggerating, either, for a lot of games do, indeed, feature a one-off section as ludicrous and unexpected as this.

Sometimes, this level marks a turning point in the game that alters your whole perspective as a player, and sometimes, it's just a clever and refreshing change from the gameplay you're used to at this point.

Either way, it's almost certain to be one of those truly unforgettable milestones in a given title's story.

10. Downhill Jam - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999)

Batman Arkham Knight Joker

As early as the tutorial level of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, you'll probably have a pretty good idea of what the game's whole setup is. A string of levels that play out like mini open worlds for you to ollie, grind and tailgrab your way around until the timer runs out.

The first few levels consist of a warehouse, a school playground, a shopping centre, and so on. Some are more linear than others, but each of them gives you the freedom to skate around wherever you want and try to pick up all of the hard-to-reach goodies using your sickest tricks.

And then you get to the Downhill Jam.

Set in Phoenix, Arizona, this course is a steep dirt and stone ramp that declines all the way down to the water's edge. Once you reach the bottom, the level ends instantly.

So, unlike the other levels, you only have one chance to grab each collectible on the way down. If you miss any, your only option is to restart from the beginning.


Graduate composer, on-and-off session musician, aspiring novelist, professional nerd. Where procrastination and cynicism intertwine, Lee Clarke can be found.