True Skate Review
Skateboarding games have always been fiddly when they’ve ollied over onto the touchscreen. They never look too good and the controls are less functional than a broken wrist. One game promises to launch itself ahead of the others and skate up and out of the quarterpipe of mediocrity. But, does True Skate live up to its name and bring a bit of truth to the world of virtual skateboarding?
When looking at the history of skateboarding in video games, there is one behemoth franchise that cannot be ignored. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater provided a soundtrack for a generation while giving you the ability to attempt a 900 without breaking every bone in your body. But the franchise eventually lost its way and delved deeper and deeper into the absurd, until most of the challenges involved double backflipping over a pair of oil tankers while escaping from Alcatraz.
True Skate brings back a sense of reality to virtual skateboarding. From the moment you tap the icon on your home screen to the seamless introduction and transition into the perfectly proportioned skatepark, you know you’re in for a skateboarding game that is a little bit special.
Unlike most other games that give you a plethora of missions and goals to achieve, True Skate gives you only a handful to complete if you so choose. The real essence of the game is much closer to the real essence of skateboarding. It is all about the feel of wandering around a skatepark and using your own creativity to string tricks together into the perfect line.
The controls are simple enough and mimic the movements you would make while riding a real skateboard. Your fingers become your feet. You swipe alongside the board to push and steer by moving your finger from side to side across the skateboard itself.
Tricks are where this control scheme gets a bit more challenging, but all the more rewarding. You swipe down on the back of the board to launch the skateboard into the air and with another quick flick, you can flip the board in any direction you so choose. It may seem arbitrary at first, but like in actual skateboarding, you’ll learn which movements land you the right tricks.
There are a few challenges for you to accomplish that you can access from the pause menu, but these are really basic and help you to discover the controls and familiarize yourself with the skatepark. Other than that, you are free to flip, grind, and wipe-out all over the park. Sure, there is no body to go flying off headfirst into the concrete with a cringe-worthy crunch, but bailing on a trick only makes you want to land it that much more.
True Skate is a minimalist interpretation on the skateboarding game. It shuns the conventions of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for more of a skate feel. For what it lacks in absurdity -- a rocking soundtrack, and button mashing combos -- it more than makes up for with crisp graphics, innovative controls, and a calming experience. It is the closest to pure skateboarding that you’ll find without screwing some roller skates to a plank of wood.