Developer: PunchBox
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Two of the most important things about being a skater are having a lot of style and knowing a lot of tricks. Sheer athleticism is all well and good but it’s these extra elements that help a skater stand out. The developers of FreeSkate Xtreme must have understood this because they have made a game that stands out.

At its core, FreeSkate Xtreme is a Temple Run-style infinite runner. Players tilt their device to steer a skater away from obstacles and towards cash or trick spots. However, from that simple base, a surprisingly diverse amount of gameplay opens up. Players shake their device to jump and send skaters onto grind rails, flipping off of ramps, and doing a handful of other tricks. Power-ups collected in the level or bought from the skate shop can extend combos even further. The most interesting gimmick by far though is the bullet time feature. On certain grind rails, time slows down and using the front-facing camera players can tilt their head to guide their skater towards coins and away from missiles. On paper that sounds like a sub-Kinect level of motion-controlled nonsense but in practice it’s more fun and fluid than one would ever expect. All of these elements combine to create an experience more reminiscent of SSX or even some 3D Sonic the Hedgehog titles than the average infinite runner.

On top of all this substance though is a ton of style. While some may be turned off by another graffiti-influenced aesthetic for a skating game, complete with a generic, obnoxious punk soundtrack, the game looks simply incredible in motion. The vibrant cel-shaded visuals and slick animations look like a living manga and the colorful, Asian take on street culture should appeal to fans of games like Jet Set Radio and the more recent The World Ends with You. Each of the playable skaters has their own distinct look and the world itself is expansive and diverse. Like in any infinite runner backgrounds will eventually repeat but before they do players will go from the streets to train yards to beach fronts. Again, the game’s strength is its variety.

FreeSkate Xtreme puts a lot of small but new twists on the infinite runner formula. It could have easily wound up a big mess but instead everything clicks to make a game that, above all else, feels totally fresh.


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