So, there is no avoiding the obvious here. Any modern skateboarding game will ultimately get compared to the Tony Hawk series! And in this instance, the attempt to mimic what the Tony Hawk franchise has done is very apparent! The devs, that is Glass Bottom Games, even throw in an off-hand, and somewhat funny, Tony Hawk reference into their game. However, whilst trying to emulate the gameplay mechanics that made the Tony Hawk franchise so revered, SkateBIRD falls flat on its face more often than a rookie skateboarder at a skatepark.
This title is riddled with issues! This makes what was supposed to be a fun and arcade-y skateboarding experience into an absolute chore! A major problem is the lack of responsiveness in the controls. I can’t count the number of times that I tried unsuccessfully to pull off a trick or do a simple ollie! I had to mash the button multiple times before the game would register what I was trying to do.
SkateBIRD’s Gameplay Struggles
It’s also very common for the camera to start going haywire! It became a frequent issue when approaching any sort of wall or obstacle. This led to many occasions where I got stuck and struggled to get out of a corner or move away from a wall without completely resetting to a different area in the level. This becomes especially frustrating when you have a time limit to complete certain objectives.
It also seems very odd that tricks such as a nosegrab and tailgrab are mapped to the left and right buttons in combination with the grab button, rather than the up and down buttons, seeing as the bird is grabbing the front and the back of the board. I will admit that this seems a little nitpicky! However, because these kinds of small issues appear all throughout this title, they quickly become irritating. Overall, the controls and gameplay mechanics cause way too many frustrating moments! They leave much to be desired.
SkateBIRD’s Charming Narrative
On the other hand, SkateBIRD’s narrative is quite charming. It’s centred around a group of pet birds that just want to spend more time with their owner that they call Big Friend. As they haven’t really seen much of their owner for a long while, they take matters into their own hands to try to get Big Friend to return home. From cleaning Big Friend’s room, by doing tricks and flips over bits of rubbish, to attempting to find their way to Big Friend’s work, there seems to be nothing that these little skaters won’t do for their owner.
Whilst some of the story objectives can be entertaining for a few moments, such as riding around with a cleaning tool and doing tricks through stains on the floor and wall to clean them, the others just become very tedious to complete! That is mainly due to the clunky controls. And because of this, seeing SkateBIRD through to the end becomes less and less appealing!
The World of SkateBIRD
Some of the levels, most notably Big Friend’s room, feature some creative obstacles made of items that you would typically find in a bedroom. From riding up pizza box ramps to grinding on used bowls, there is a lot of potential for some great skating to be found! But unfortunately, with the controls being as they are, skating through these obstacles ends up feeling underwhelming.
The music in SkateBIRD is definitely one of its best aspects. Featuring songs from a genre that the devs have titled ‘lofi bird-hop to skateboard to’, it really does get you in the mood for some relaxed skateboarding. This game also has some classic punk-rock, because what is a skateboarding game without some distorted guitars!
There really aren’t any reasons to pick up SkateBIRD. Whilst there is some potential here, there are so many other great skateboarding games that are much more worthwhile. Games such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and Skate City, as well as Skate 3 and pretty much any other Tony Hawk game, if you are willing to grab out your older consoles, are much more likely to satisfy that need for a fun skateboarding experience.
Now I understand that this game was made by a very small development team! But games like My Friend Pedro, Stardew Valley, Undertail, The Forgotten City and Bright Memory, plus many more, are great examples of just how much can be accomplished by a small team! Hopefully, Glass Bottom Games continue their work on SkateBIRD to overcome some of its glaring issues!
By Samuel Incze
SkateBIRD’s attempt to create a Tony Hawk-esque style skateboarding game with birds, is largely underwhelming and struggles to impress. With unresponsive controls and a camera that seems to flip all over the place, SkateBIRD fails to provide any reasons to be worth picking up.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Glass Bottom Games. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.