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I’ve always loved skateboarding, but not for the obvious reasons. I enjoy the culture surrounding the sport and the lifelong friendships that form. Whenever a game uses skating at its core, I always give it a go. I’ve lost many hours of my life playing Tony Hawks and Skate, so when I was offered SkateBIRD, I jumped at the chance.
Developed and published by Glass Bottom Games, this is a cute take on the sporting genre. It combines many elements from the great skating franchises with the madness enjoyed in Micro Machines. In short, it’s a crazy colourful title that is lighthearted and fun to play.
SkateBIRD captures the culture perfectly.
I, like most gamers, love a realistic sports title, but there is a time and place when it’s acceptable for this to slip. SkateBIRD has sacrificed its realism but has focused its energy on capturing the culture perfectly. With super cool and interesting characters to interact with, funky sounds, and fascinating levels to explore, every stage is a playground. You’ll leap over boxes, grind edges, spin across chasms, and grab your board at every opportunity. It’s mindless fun that allows you to explore as much as you wish.
Though you are free to do whatever you like, there is a loose story that you must follow to unlock each of the five levels. As the title infers, you are a bird that loves to skateboard, hence SkateBIRD! It’s a little strange, but the hero of this tale takes up the sport for a very good reason. His owner spends his time working and is sad that he has to give up his beloved hobby. The bird begins to board to cheer up his owner and hopes that this will inspire him to start again. His journey takes him to the source of his owner’s sadness! Will he destroy it and “help”, or will he fail his quest? I think we can all agree that this cool and helpful creature is the best pet in the world.
Collectables, mad missions, and rad tricks.
We all play sports games so we can perform at a world-class level. Whether it’s scoring ridiculous goals, a touchdown from 80 yards, or winning an Olympic gold medal, we want to be the best. SkateBIRD allows you to pull off unbelievable tricks while leaping into the air like a salmon. You’ll ride around each stage looking for collectables while completing mad missions and performing rad tricks.
The story evolves through the use of many micro missions. You’ll be required to collect items, perform certain tricks, and unlock windows and doors. Each quest is timed, and this adds a ridiculous amount of pressure. I loved the blend of tasks and this kept the gameplay from becoming stale. Completing each goal was easier said than done, and there were many times that I swore as I failed or fell from a great height.
Frustrating lows and euphoric highs.
You may be worried that the difficulty made the action tedious and unenjoyable. Fortunately, the gameplay is moreish and the freedom to ignore missions and take in the vibe balances things perfectly. Yes, failing a mission for the nth time was infuriating, but that’s the joy of skating, and the developers got this element just right.
For all its frustrating lows, many highlights made the grind worth every minute. Finally reaching the highest point, or finding the last collectable, was euphoric, and made the hard work extremely rewarding. There was nothing better than landing a combination of tricks to fill your FANCY bar. Once full, you can speed around and leap to heights that were otherwise out of reach. It was a simple mechanic that adds a bit more challenge to an already testing title.
SkateBIRD looks great and offers much variety.
SkateBIRD’s art style is colourful, cheery, and is guaranteed to make you smile. The crisp lines and well-detailed character models were great to look at and moving through each stage was smooth and trouble-free. I enjoyed the variety of stage designs and loved the nod to Micro Machines and the larger-than-life obstacles that you had to avoid. Yet, for all its positives, there were a few negatives. These mainly revolve around the camera angles that blocked your view or made playing incredibly tough. You are free to pan the view as you wish, but this wasn’t always easy when you were travelling at speed.
I’ve mentioned my love of skateboarding culture, and SkateBIRD captures this with its wonderful array of songs. The ska soundtrack, combined with some bizarre tracks about birds, was fantastic to listen to. The music overpowers the rest of the audio and it makes exploring and wasting time a joyous experience.
There’s no easy way to say it….the controls are dreadful.
SkateBIRD has so many positives that it hurts to mention its woeful controls. The poorly devised set-up ruins an otherwise fantastic title. Moving the bird in tight spaces can be woefully painful and you’ll fall off your board as you crash into the scenery repeatedly. It’s enough to make you scream with rage, and I cursed the developers repeatedly for this shortcoming.
If you can get used to the controls, you’ll experience an addictive and relaxing title. With a range of tricks to perform, collectables to find, costumes to collect, and missions to complete, you’ll want to keep playing. Ten plus hours are required to finish this, and completionists will need patience and skill to get every achievement.
SkateBIRD is a refreshing twist on the skateboarding genre.
With so many serious skating titles available, it was refreshing to get a fun game with a touching, yet silly story. I loved the presentation, the variety in stages and missions, and the music. However, the poor controls and occasional poor camera angle can’t be ignored. These shortcomings don’t ruin the game, they simply make it much harder to play. I enjoyed it mostly and recommend you to buy it here! Grab your board, help your owner, and become a cool skateboarding bird.