Kick back, relax, and get ready to flick some sticks. Following its run on Apple Arcade, developer Snowman have released their relaxing skating sim Skate City on the Nintendo Switch, bringing with it a neat gameplay loop of quick-and-easy skating tricks. It’s a lot simpler than other games in the skating genre so it will certainly appeal to newbies – does it actually offer enough content and challenge to keep players invested for the long-term, though?
Skate City’s gameplay is simple to get to grips with, with players kicking their way across the ground with a press of the A button and then pulling off tricks by flicking both the left and right stick. Fancy stringing in some manuals? Just hit the shoulder buttons following a trick. Everything takes place on a 2D plane, so you don’t have to worry about navigation; sure, there’ll be some obstacles you’ll need to ollie over or between and there are plenty of rails to grind, but it’s always a case of simply working from left to right.
It’ll be more familiar to those that have played OlliOlli as opposed to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, and it works quite well. I was pulling off all sorts of fancy moves quite quickly, whilst the progression that’s tied to completing challenges saw me improving my capabilities (and unlocking new decks and outfits) to help pull off even slicker manoeuvres.
“It’ll be more familiar to those that have played OlliOlli as opposed to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, and it works quite well.”
It’s with those aforementioned challenges that you’ll probably spend most of your time in Skate City. None are overly difficult and mostly consist of hitting tricks and so forth, but there are a few creative challenges that did feel more befitting of a typical skating game. There are three levels on offer in total that bring their own set of challenges, with Los Angeles, Oslo, and Barcelona putting your skating prowess to the test. Each bring their own unique look and up the ante as far as the difficulty is concerned, so there’s a genuine sense of progress felt as you navigate them that does feel satisfying.
Skate City’s core gameplay experience ticks plenty of boxes as far as enjoyable skating action is concerned, but I found it a bit too simple to get fully engrossed in. There was no real sense of nuance found when pulling off tricks, whilst the basic layout of each level meant there wasn’t a whole lot of room for experimentation. I rarely felt like I was really challenged, but instead in a routine where I did the same things over and over again. There are things like the Photo Mode that incentivised me to play around a little, but even that lacked the stylish flair seen in bigger releases.
“Skate City’s core gameplay experience ticks plenty of boxes as far as enjoyable skating action is concerned, but I found it a bit too simple to get fully engrossed in.”
It doesn’t help that there’s not a whole lot on offer to keep players coming back for more. It won’t take players long to see everything that each of the three environments has to offer, whilst the aforementioned challenges can be zipped through quite quickly. There are online leaderboards to try and climb if you’re into that sort of thing – I’m not really the score-chasing type though, so it didn’t really appeal to me.
That being said, Skate City isn’t really about challenging the player or having them pull off semi-impossible tricks and flips across death-defying skate parks. There’s something almost *relaxing* about the experience that makes it easy to fall into a small trance when playing, especially in the Endless Mode where you can switch off your mind and just… well… skate. I actually listened to a podcast whilst playing the game for review and found myself sitting for close to three-hours straight just skating and relaxing, and you know what? It felt nice. Sure, I wasn’t overly challenged and I was running out of things to do, but there was something so soothing about just unwinding with Skate City’s world.
It shows that there is more to the game than just challenges and it is certainly enjoyable as a bit of a mindless (and mostly stress-free) experience. Looking for a skating game to really invest yourself in fully for hours on end though? Maybe Skate City won’t be for you…
“There’s something almost *relaxing* about the experience that makes it easy to fall into a small trance when playing.”
Visually, Skate City looks pretty stylish, with the muted colour palette of the world fitting the 90s-style aesthetic that I associate with skateboarding (at least in my own head anyway). It’s not packed to the brim with detail and the locales you visit don’t offer too many unique sights, but there’s enough variety between them to make skating across the world look and feel slick. There are a few performance hiccups here and there, but it’s mostly consistent throughout. I’ve got to give a shout out to the music too. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t even come close to capturing the perfection found in the Tony Hawk’s series of games, but the more chilled out feel of the soundtrack suits Skate City’s vibe perfectly.
Skate City isn’t the most engrossing of skating sims, but it still manages to offer a relaxing experience that’ll appeal more to the casual crowd. It’s not particularly difficult, it doesn’t have a ton on offer content-wise, and it can be a bit too easy to string together tricks, but it’s fine – it isn’t trying to constantly test your skating skills, but instead absorb you in its relaxed world of skating.
Skate City won’t be for everyone, but if you’re looking for an extreme sports sim that never feels TOO extreme, it might just be for you.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Click here to visit the official website.