What if Tony Hawk was an actual hawk? Well, here's SkateBIRD which is a delightful new skateboarding game with an all-avian cast.
You may have guessed it but SkateBIRD is essentially an indie take on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater featuring a cast of birds. However, its controls are slightly different so if you're like me and have Pro Skater's controls engraved in your memory; it'll take a little while to adjust to how to play SkateBIRD. That being said, once you do, you'll be in for one delightful treat as you skateboard around a handful of intricate environments as a groovy customizable bird. If that sounds fun to you then you'll definitely love what SkateBIRD has to offer.
SkateBIRD is set up so that you skate around its environments while looking for NPC birds then after a short dialogue scene, you'll try your best to complete a mission. These missions come in a lot of varieties and many of them will task you with completing multiple goals so they can be tricky to finish although you likely won't try many of them more than a couple times because, thankfully, nothing is insurmountable. Whether you're trying to reach a score threshold by performing tricks, learning a new manoeuvre, searching for collectibles, or attaching balloons to a blanket in order to alter the environment, you're bound to have an enjoyable time.
The game world within SkateBIRD is rather adorable considering everything is bird-sized so you'll end up grinding on pizza boxes and using magazines as ramps. The birds themselves are wonderfully-animated with their herky-jerky motions and watching your created bird bob their head as you perform cool tricks is a delight. Meanwhile, the soundtrack begins with plenty of groovy tunes that sound like they belong on one of Mark Farina's Mushroom Jazz compilations but you'll unlock many more tunes by picking up audio cassettes that expand the soundtrack to include music such as punk rock tracks which I also enjoyed. Overall, the visuals and audio are very well done.
Speaking of unlockables, each area has a core set of missions to complete but on top of that, you'll also find plenty of goodies that are tucked away. Besides unlocking more music, you'll also gather extra customization items such as clothes, skateboard decks, and wheels. This may not add up to a lot but it's great to see some collectibles and needless to say, the cassettes are quite a hearty reward.
Unfortunately, that's about all there is to SkateBIRD. With only a campaign that consists of completing missions, you'll definitely want to experience much more. For example, if there was a free mode where you could try to climb the leaderboard by executing tricks in a limited time then that would have been awesome. Also, a multiplayer option would have extended the replay value a lot as well. My only other complaint is that the camera can be quite unwieldy at times and watching it jump around as you're trying to carefully position yourself is highly irritating stuff. I hope that gets smoothed over in a patch soon because it's rather jarring to observe.
SkateBIRD is a silly little indie game that does quite an impressive job of adapting familiar skateboarding gameplay to a bird-sized world. Completing its missions and finding its collectibles may be rewarding but you'd wish there was much more to it than that.
- + Core gameplay is impressively enjoyable with plenty of fun missions to tackle
- + Cute bird-themed world and great music
- + Decent collectibles and unlockables
- - Could use additional modes and challenges
- - Camera can be super-annoying at times
- - No multiplayer component