By Jason Quinn / November 18th, 2021
|Developer||Glass Bottom Games|
|Publisher||Glass Bottom Games|
|Release Date||September 16th, 2021|
|Platform||PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
|Age Rating||T for Teen|
I can’t tell if SkateBIRD is a sincere attempt at a skateboarding game with a gimmick, or of it’s meant to be something akin to Goat Simulator, where it’s sort of bad and janky on purpose to be funny. The controls and actual skateboarding mechanics are so bad that it’s hard to imagine this being a real attempt to make something fun, but it also doesn’t lean into being goofy and weird enough for it to feel like that’s what it’s going for.
The controls are unresponsive and clunky. They are reasonably intuitive; if you’ve played a skateboarding game in the vein of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, this will seem familiar. As you start to skate around though, things will just feel bad. Something as simple as turning around can cause your bird to just fall off the skateboard. Things like grinding rails feels like a 50% chance you’ll actually grind it and 50% chance nothing will happen. When you go up a quarter pipe or half pipe ramp, the camera doesn’t change perspective at all. This means that if you want to spin your bird to the right, you actually have to hold left on the control stick.
Granted, what tricks you do don’t particularly matter. You’re not really playing for score much, just doing random missions scattered throughout each map. However, the skateboarding arguably has less nuance than skateboarding games from the N64 and PS1 era. It’s incredibly simple and basic. If you’re looking for any sort of contemporary features, you won’t really find any. You can make your bird scream though, so I guess that’s something unique this game offers.
There really isn’t a lot I can say about the gameplay. It just feels bad. The missions you have to do are all pretty generic filler. Do some tricks on or around certain objects. It’s really no different than a lot of things the THPS games might have you do, but it doesn’t have the solid and fun skateboarding to make it worthwhile. So it just ends up feeling like busywork. Playing this game was honestly exhausting as it’s a struggle merely to control it. As I mentioned before, simply turning around too fast can cause the game to think you’ve landed a trick wrong and send your bird flying off the skateboard. The trick detection is incredibly dodgy, so every step of the game feels like you have to actively fight against it.
The story and presentation of this game is of equally similar quality. You’re a bird, there are other birds, there’s wacky dialogue between them. Perhaps some might find it charming, but it just didn’t land for me. Throughout the game you’re trying to help out “big friend” who I’m assuming is the birds’ owner. Nothing wrong with the concept, it just doesn’t really lend anything to the game. Visually the game is perfectly mediocre, not exactly ugly, but nothing that will impress you either. Soundtrack is the same thing. None of the music is grating, but as soon as you turn the game off, you’ll struggle to remember any tunes.
I simply can’t recommend SkateBIRD. If you want a good skateboarding game, this certainly doesn’t provide that. If you want something kinda janky to laugh at, it’s not good for that either. However, if you’re curious how a skateboarding game could arguably feel worse than the first Tony Hawk Pro Skater, you can check this out for $20 on Steam. All its content will probably take about 10 hours to get through, though I can’t imagine there’s very many people that will actually make it through all of it.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
Glass Bottom Gamesnintendo switchPCSkateBIRDSkateboardingXbox One