LifeisXbox’s Skate City review | Most games are all about action, excitement and storytelling, that’s why Skate City manages to find a sweetspot in my Xbox game library. A small game that captures the heart and soul of what skating is about! Sharing tricks with the world with its in-game recording option or simply having a relaxing gameplay loop in the endless mode. Just like Lost Words: Beyond the Page this former-Apple Arcade exclusive is now finally unleashed for Xbox gamers, it might be a bit overly simplified and lacking in content but games like this are pretty rare on our console. You could compare this side-scrolling game with OlliOlli from Roll7, but with a highly reduced difficulty. Let’s Nollie and manual our way through this review!
Dae Jim played Skate City for two hours, capturing some awesome tricks. Skate City is also available on Apple Arcade, Playstation and Switch.
What we liked!
- Chilling with the board | I do have to note that competitive gamers will find it lovely to have online leaderboards but I think this game is more fit for having a relaxed time without pressure for reaching high scores. The option is there but I preferred to just take my time in the endless modes and capturing some of the moves. This ain’t no Tony Hawk or Skate that gets annoyingly difficult, avoiding the few obstacles is rather easy so it doesn’t get in the way of that breeze-like gameplay.
- In-game recording | Recording your tricks or runs in Skate City is really addictive, you can easily zoom, spin or add effect while your avatar is doing some impressive tricks. Capturing your gameplay is in my opinion the core gameplay feature for this title, I’m sure it will find some kind of audience for this on Xbox. So get those #Xboxshare moments going and don’t forget to tag us on your posts! Another neat thing they did is that captured moments get a score from an invisible virtual jury, they even created challenges with this in the endless modes.
- Easy to learn | Thing that annoys me about other skate games are the hard controls. I know it is part of the fun but I was glad to see how easy things controlled in Skate City. Obviously, being a full 2D sidescroller makes it less challenging too. Moving forward is done by A, tricks with the dialogue sticks, and doing a grind or manual with the second bumpers. In less than an hour, you are doing everything in auto-pilot. I would even say with your eyes closed but you would hit the obstacles.
- Clean visual style | There’s something about the clean and distinct style from Skate City that has some charm. It is a bit dreamlike realism. One part that really sets the overall mood is the lighting effects. Sunsets or evenings with lanterns really set some beautiful visual setpieces. At some moments it does look a bit like copy/paste work but this sidescroller has more than enough unique landmarks to stand out. The thing that was pretty disappointing was that locations don’t really look distinctive… sure the environments look different but it could all be the same location. It was a dead giveaway that the game is designed for mobile too, the blurriness kinda screams it.
- Basic customizing | A game with such a big emphasis on sharing gameplay requires ways of standing out. I did miss a few additional options while creating my avatar. You have the basics like choosing gender, skin color, a few hairstyles, and clothes but I felt it was lacking in content. You can buy some extra things in the shop, which was nice but the selection isn’t really special.
What we disliked
- Lacking in content | Three cities can be found in Skate City, Barcelona, Oslo, and the starting location Los Angeles. Each of them has 30 challenges and an endless mode that has some specific challenges linked to Xbox Achievements, that seems like a lot but you’ve seen most of it within two hours. There’s not much reason to actually finish all of the challenges and most of them become a bit repetitive, it doesn’t help that every challenge has a short loading time either. You have a few unique challenges like avoiding a crowd or being chased by a cop (which has some hilariously bad animations) but most of them force you to reach a specific scoring goal. When going for all the Achievements it forces you to complete every challenge in endless mode, so prepare for some cursing nights!
- Performance isn’t perfect | I can’t shake that a game made for mobile and that runs on Nintendo Switch has frame rate issues on a monster like Xbox Series X. When you max out your speed the game regularly struggles to keep up the smooth frame rate, this doesn’t really result in gameplay issues but it remains a bit… awkward?
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