HomeVideo GamesGAME REVIEW | Clunky "SkateBIRD" is Not the Word

GAME REVIEW | Clunky "SkateBIRD" is Not the Word

GAME REVIEW | Clunky "SkateBIRD" is Not the Word

My high school days were filled with playing tons of sports games. From SSX Tricky to MVP Baseball 2005, these titles took over more of my time than any Mario and Zelda title. But no series stole my playtime quite like Neversoft’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, which were filled with great skate parks, tricks, and soundtracks that helped to evolve my musical tastes. Alas, the glory days of Tony Hawk’s series are long gone, with recent incarnations lacking the heart and attitude of the originals. So can a dark horse (or bird, in this case) take up the mantle?

Glass Bottom Games’s SkateBIRD is a unique take on the skateboarding genre. Players take the helm as one of many kinds of birds, with a plethora of costumes to dress their fine-feathered friends. The story has the bird seek where its owner is, as it appears that their days of skateboarding have been replaced with days in the office. In order to bring the owner back to their glory days, the bird must escape its home, find where they work, and find a way to sabotage their job enough to the point where they stay home.

On the surface, there’s a lot of charm to be found in SkateBIRD. Visually, there’s a cuteness to the beautiful (and sometimes odd-looking) birds that you’ll be able to control. From pigeons and finches to even owls, the game gives players the chance to take to the sky with their beaked bud. The areas you roam through also are imaginative, as the tiny apartment and office realm takes these mundane places and transforms them into some cool skate parks.

However, no sooner do you begin its tutorial do you start to witness its flaws. SkateBIRD does a good job with holding your hand in the beginning, as you learn to ollie, jump, grind, and pull normal tricks. But when it comes time to up your game, the difficulty jumps to ten when you’re expecting it to saunter to three. Pulling big tricks is increasingly tough, as even moves that should be simpler are tough as hell!

One of the main problems I found with its difficulty rests on its controls. Playing with an Xbox One controller, attempting to balance or pull combos were more challenging here than I had experienced in past skateboarding games. Grinding (the skate move, not the gaming term) is one of the most frustrating things to do in SkateBIRD, as attempting to balance on a rail is next-to-impossible due to how quick the scales teeter. Often it feels like you need three hands to properly maneuver, ironic considering that the creature you’re controlling has none of their own!

Perhaps the worst thing about SkateBIRD is its camera angles. Trying to adjust your vision is something that placed a big massive pause on my play-throughs. I couldn’t go two minutes without having to stop what I was doing, and wiggling my right control stick until I could see the are more properly. Worse, the camera will sometimes decide to switch your angle mid-trick, causing the area to spin and make me feeling nauseous!

If you are able to muster through the muddled parts of SkateBIRD, then you’ll be able to find some fun side-quests, hidden customizations for your bird or board, and mixtapes that will help to fill the game’s playlist. Alas, the soundtrack is not the most inspired mixture of artists you can find. Nowhere will you find gems like Turbonegro, Motörhead, or Guttermouth; instead, you’ll be “treated” with SoundCloud-styled rap and jazz, with only a tiny sprinkling of ska that should’ve been a bucket-fill! (Needless to say, I muted the music and cranked some Flogging Molly and Del tha Funky Homosapien while letting my bird get tricky.)

PROS:

  • Lots of birds to choose from
  • Good amount of quests
  • Imaginative areas

CONS:

  • Controls are hard to handle
  • Camera work is dizzying
  • Uninspired soundtrack

FINAL THOUGHTS:

SkateBIRD is cute as a concept, but a tough cookie to play in execution. While there’s plenty of birds to play as and moves to master, the shoddy controls and bad camera make it increasingly difficult to have fun with it. There is potential, but until it attempts to fix its issues, SkateBIRD won’t be taking the crown from the SkateHAWK anytime soon.

FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Bailey Mathieu of Stride PR. Reviewed on the PC via Steam.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@electricsistahood.com For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)