Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this installment, we’re covering SkateBIRD by developer Glass Bottom Games.
SkateBIRD: (The Explanation)
I want to go on record stating that when I first saw SkateBIRD around two years ago I thought the game looked to be an interesting take on the skateboarding genre. You play as a bird, yes a bird, and your Big Friend has given up skateboarding. Since your friend is gone you decide to take up skateboarding around your house and other locations to cheer yourself up and become the best Bird.
You can customize your bird character with varying breeds of birds with colorful feathers and designs. You can also add headgear like hats, headphones, glasses, and more to deck out your bird character including customizations worn around the face, neck, back, waist, and unique deck and wheel colors. Some items you can customize your bird with can be found throughout the various skateparks.
Customizations aside, the meat of the game plays out in various skate parks through the eyes of your tiny bird skater. You navigate atop your skateboard using the Left Control stick. You will want to hold down and release the B button for Ollie. Y is your Fliptrick in conjunction with your left stick input direction allowing you to perform various tricks. You can grind along edges like benches, pizza boxes, bowls of stew, and straws with X.
Heading towards a ramp and selecting X will allow you to do a lip trick. Some tricks allow for balancing by pushing or pulling back on the Left Stick to maintain balance. Grab tricks are performed with A. You can transfer over gaps and lips by holding R. Quickly pushing up and down or down and then up, on the Left Stick allows you to push or brake into a manual which can be helpful to avoid bailing.
While all of the above sounds fun and engaging, SkateBIRD is a game full of jittery framerate and animations that become problematic in motion. I found myself getting mildly nauseous while playing SkateBIRD as the game stutters at just enough of a slow clip to give me a headache. It didn’t always seem to happen, though it felt more pronounced in areas that had a lot going on in them. The birds in SkateBIRD oftentimes seemed glitchy in their animations jittering oddly out of animation sequences or clipping their headgear, necklace, etc. The camera, which you can control with the Right Stick, can also get stuck or animate wildly making it hard to control the game.
The skateparks of SkateBIRD feels a little sparse in their grindable rails, ramps, and items to collect. There also seemed to be a disconnect in the bedroom between the top of the bed and areas I could get to like the desk and the floor. While you skate around you find other bird friends looking to help you learn how to skate by giving you quests. These quests vary from performing certain tricks in set places, collecting letters to spell S-K-A-T-E, finding objects within the levels, and more.
SkateBIRD is a game that I wanted to like. I wanted to enjoy the unique world the developers built, but there isn’t enough to get me to play when the gameplay is bland, levels are simple, and the control issues I had. Skate game enthusiasts may be able to see past those faults, but ultimately the game just doesn’t soar to the heights of games like Tony Hawk that require precise button inputs and control that SkateBIRD lacks.
SkateBIRD: (The Gameplay)
Developer: Glass Bottom Games
Publisher: Glass Bottom Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Sports, Racing, Simulation
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: September 16, 2021 (EU & NA)
File Size: 2.9 MB