A skateboarding game with birds doesn’t seem like the sanest of choices. Perhaps it only found its feet after someone at Glass Bottom Games thought about the name Tony Hawk, and changed it to tiny hawk, thus setting this weird premise in motion. There’s a wide open market for skateboarding titles, especially ones that are easy to pick up and play. One that I never foresaw, was one featuring cardinals, owls, and kingfishers grinding on straws and pizza boxes whilst collecting blowtorches and duck tape. SkateBIRD is ridiculous, but in a stupidly fun and self-aware way.
Much like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, you can pull off a ton of moves my grabbing your board and flipping as you ollie at the peak of a ramp. Plenty of obstacles litter the various locations, meaning you can grind on stuff, as well as performing manuals and everything in between. It unashamedly pays homage to the Neversoft series, but throws in a few additional moves for good measure. Every bird can double jump, providing a bit of extra height to get over long drops. SkateBIRD isn’t quite as tight as THPS, especially when going from stationary. It’s the one negative that does affect your enjoyment, and when you’re trapped in a soup bowl, it takes a while to get out.
Despite some of the loose controls, SkateBIRD is rather satisfying. You can pull of some sweet combos by mixing grabs, flips, manuals, and grinds. It’s the structure of the campaign that differs greatly from Mr Hawk’s outings. There aren’t tons of different levels. Instead, locations offer plenty of missions, given to you by the cast of supporting feathered friends. Looking for NPCs with missions help you to progress to the next area. The missions you get given range from getting a certain score within a time frame and collecting items, to falling into the clouds or screaming at the floor. It’s dumb, but part of what makes it so silly and enjoyable.
Plenty to find
Collectables litter the world of SkateBIRD. You can unlock new music tracks to have playing in the background, as well as items of clothing. These additional objectives give you a reason to explore every area. Some places seem hard to reach at first, but every new mission gives you an opportunity to become familiar with the control system. Much of the controls are a carbon copy of THPS, but I was totally fine with that. If you don’t enjoy the gameplay, the likelihood of going around outside of missions isn’t appealing. Thankfully, Glass Bottom Games has made something that feels wonderful to play.
SkateBIRD is filled with humour. The dialogue is genuinely funny. The variety of birds and their personalities always made it fun to find new ones. There’re also little references to other games, such as Splinter Cell. One mission sees you collect tools and a blowtorch for a kingfisher called Sam. With so many varied missions, you’re never bored. I had times when I spent a good 30 or so minutes skating freely before finding the next mission because I enjoyed it so much.
Whether you enjoy skateboarding games or not, there’s something about SkateBIRD that you can’t help but love. The soundtrack may not feature Lagwagon, Goldfinger, or Anthrax, but it’s catchy all the same. The visuals aren’t amazing, but it’s so much fun to play. The way missions are spread out across the various skateparks is a breath of fresh air, and the gameplay is easy to get used to from the moment you get on your board. Customisation spans to boards and the way your bird dresses, giving you plenty of reasons to collect everything around you. What I’m trying to say is SkateBIRD is a simple yet satisfying skateboarding game with tons of replayability. In fact, some might say it’s a hoot.
Fun to play
Nice mission structure
Plenty of humour
Controls can be awkward
Rather basic visuals
SCORE OUT OF TEN
SkateBIRD is a wonderful skateboarding game that plays familiar to THPS, but is as much its own game to separate the two.