Review — SkateBIRD

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By Josh Nichols on September 20th, 2021

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SkateBIRD is exactly what I needed at this point in my life. Custom, cute birds and skateboarding underneath the warm and relaxing “low-fi bird-hop soundtrack.” You control a cute bird that’s determined to improve their Big Friend’s surroundings. Things are messy, untidy, and life has been more difficult for them lately. Big Friend has been away most of the time and is always working. Things are sad and different for the lonely lil birds. And that’s when they decide to do something about it.

Once you’re finished completing the optional tutorial, you can jump into the main part of the game. This is where you’ll be helping your tiny, feathered friends help their Big Friend. You’ll complete missions that are scattered around the human environments, which are bigger and feel surreal. Everyone can complete ollies, kickflips, and other tricks across magazine halfpipes, rainy rooftops, and other locations scattered across several different skate parks.

Cozy Comforts

I could not do all of those tricks in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. It took me months to make meaningful progress across the remaster. I played it constantly after it was released but I was terrible at it. Skatebird addresses the issues that players like me have with other skateboarding titles. Skatebird has incredible accessibility settings, especially for an indie title that has fewer resources than triple-A games. Regardless of your reasoning, you can tweak several settings in Skatebird that can help make the title a better experience.

Lowering the necessary reaction time gave me the power to push through, explore, and complete stellar tricks without having to watch my lil bird friend wipe out repeatedly. That’s when I learned what I loved most about skateboarding titles. The freedom and momentum of movement are set against interesting locations with good music. Existing within a space and just vibing, and SkateBIRD gets that completely.

I experienced a few bugs here and there but they didn’t affect me any more than my poor skating abilities already do. Perhaps more skilled players will struggle some but progress and existing within the spaces feel more meaningful than success and high scores. This may differ for you so it’s something to keep in mind when approaching SkateBIRD. It may also depend on your skill level in the skateboarding game genre. I may not be good enough to push the game’s limitations.

New Birds on the Block

SkateBIRD feels good to control and movement feels smooth. At times I experienced issues stopping at non-playable birds, which is necessary to start and accept missions, but there’s a dedicated button to starting the dialogue when you’re near which mostly addresses the issue. The game’s unlockables are a satisfying way to add to the already fun experience, which includes secret mixtapes, new clothing items, and more. It’s hard to stop playing once I start, especially since SkateBIRD also allows players to drop in with their own mp3s. That said, the game’s original soundtrack is super rad and relaxing but I love that Glass Bottom Games included the feature. It almost feels like a callback to Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2x on Xbox, which had the same feature. Flying through The Hangar as Spider-Man while blaring System of a Down in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2x was a nostalgic part of my childhood, so any nods to that in a skateboarding game wins some extra points in my book. SkateBIRD might inspire younger generations of players unfamiliar with the genre while providing those that grew up with Tony Hawk’s games with some much-needed rest and relaxation.

All told, SkateBIRD isn’t perfect, and while I enjoyed my time with it those bugs stick out as nuisances that could build up for some players. But it has skateboarding birds in adorable outfits, and is self aware enough to have fun with its premise. Scooting and energetic lo-fi hip-hop reinvigorate as you search the levels for missions and repeatedly mash the shoulder button to make your bird CAW with joy along the way. SkateBIRD is out now on Xbox Game Pass and is available for subscribers as of writing. It’s also available for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, and Amazon Luna.

8
Impressive
Skatebird manages to be an exciting and relaxing experience despite a few bugs and glitches. Its original soundtrack is essential but you can also drop in custom mp3s like it’s 2001. Whatever you do, don’t miss Skatebird.

Josh really likes video games. Horror is their favorite but they also like other stuff.

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