App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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The template for making action sports like skateboarding work well as video games has been the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series for decades now. So, when a new one comes along and it feels like those old classics it's not entirely surprising. Perfect Grind does a decent job of condensing very similar action to the Tony Hawk games down to a smaller, portrait-mode form factor, but doesn't do a whole lot to change up an age-old formula.
Perfect Grind lets players create their own skater and take them to various locations full of stuff to trick and grind all over. Scattered throughout these locales are also people who give you challenges. Some of these might be to trick off of specific things, collect certain items, or a good old score challenge. Completing these challenges grants you currency you can spend on cosmetic items and can unlock new locations to skate in.
All of this action takes place in portrait mode, and it fairly easy to control with Perfect Grind's swipe-based control scheme. You swipe to jump and trick at the same time and then various taps, swipes, holds, etc. while tricking let you do just about everything you might expect from a Tony Hawk game (i.e. manuals, grinds, transfers, wall plants, etc.).
When you aren't doing challenges in Perfect Grind, you are free to skate around and do whatever you'd like. The game also has a dedicated free skate mode, a score chasing 2 minute run, and even a park editor that lets you design the skate park of your dreams. The park editor seems to have quite a bit of potential to add to the longevity of Perfect Grind, as players can upload and share park designs with other players.
Perfect Grind is set up as a free-to-try game and locks its full feature set behind a simple one-time $2.99 in app purchase. Personally, I think the price and the model are very player friendly as you get a lot of bang for your buck and also get to try the game out before deciding. More games should do this!
Do you like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater?
With all that Perfect Grind has to offer, your enjoyment of it hinges almost entirely on two key things: whether you still have an appetite for an extremely by-the-numbers Tony Hawk-like and if that appetite can be satisfied with a streamlined version of this on a small screen with touch controls.
I find Perfect Grind's controls slightly clunky but every time I boot it up I can't help but try to knock out a few challenges. This is to say it has a good and compelling structure. That said, I never really miss it when I close the app. It's a fine game, but outside of being playable on a phone it's not novel or otherwise particularly special.
The bottom line
It's hard to think of any other mobile games that really do the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater thing as well or as reliably as Perfect Grind. So, if that's something you want, it's here! Have at it! It very much is basically a 20 year old game repackaged for phones, for better or for worse.