When I was in elementary school, my best friend loved two things – skateboarding and birds. Until now, these two interests were totally unrelated, however, SkateBIRD changes that. SkateBIRD is a game where you play as a fully customizable bird who loves to shred in their Big Friend’s room. The game was developed by Glass Bottom Games and released on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, and Amazon Luna.
For the most part, the level design in SkateBIRD is creative and imaginative. For example, the first stage takes place in the Toy Story-esque environment of your owner’s room with pizza boxes acting as ramps, dental floss acting as grind rails, and Thrusher (get it?) magazines as makeshift quarter pipes. All the bird NPCs you come across also have distinctive designs.
The game has a generous difficulty level. most of the time. The missions are often pretty simple, although at times challenging but not frustrating. The player is also given ample time to complete missions, making SkateBIRD a good introduction skate game for kids who might find THPS or Skate too difficult. The fact that it features cute birds is a bonus.
One of my favorite features of video games are collectibles, which adds replayability. SkateBIRD features a ton of unlockables from new decks, hats, customization options, and more. Speaking of collectibles, the game features some pretty cool music, but it did get old quick. Luckily, part of the slew of unlockables you can find is new music. The game featured enjoyable instrumentals as well. There was one song, a remix of bird sounds, which I enjoyed.
So while I have found the game fun so far, do I think SkateBIRD lives up to the hype? Personally, no. While the game is fun to play for a while, it does lack a certain polish. As I touched upon earlier in the review, while the game isn’t frustratingly difficult in and of itself, sometimes the game’s quality makes things more difficult than they should be.
At times, SkateBIRD can be unstable. Oftentimes while performing a simple Ollie or Manual, the bird model will freak out for no reason. While that won’t exactly mess with the gameplay, it’s not fun to look at. What will mess with the gameplay are the handful of times my bird clipped into the ground or fell into some nook or cranny that shouldn’t really be there, prompting me to reset or quit out of the game to fix.
Getting stuck wasn’t solely reserved to glitches, though, as poor game design contributed to a lot of awkward situations as well. For instance, if you drive into a corner, getting out can be a very annoying process. Being caught in tight places is one thing, but what bugged me the most was the uncontrollable camera. Getting the camera angled at the view I wanted became an arduous task that I had to perform more times than I would have liked. People with motion sickness might not have a good time with this.
SkateBIRD’s second stage takes the birds to the roof, and in stark contrast to the game’s first level, the roof’s level design is disappointingly bland and boring. Seeing what the team was able to come up with for the bedroom level, the roof left much to be desired.
I spent most of the release day playing SkateBIRD, so that might tell you right off the bat that I did have fun with it. The game is full of charm, bird puns, good tunes, and unlockables. While fun was had, SkateBIRD is not a game I could on good conscious recommend people spend money on (at least, not at this point). There is a beautiful, original game concept here that would have been a very fun experience if only it had a little bit more development time.
That being said, it’s currently on Xbox Game Pass, so if you’re subscribed, I’d recommend it to any Skate, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, or avian fans out there.