App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
I have a big soft spot in my heart for action sports games. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was a seminal series for me growing up in a lot of different ways and I'm always ready to take a look at something that takes some inspiration from it. Pocket Skate is one such game that very much operates in this arena, but doesn't quite feel like it comes together to satisfy in the same way.
Stunt and score
Pocket Skate is a skateboarding game where you get to use a specific location as a playground for stunts and combos for all of 60 seconds. Your goal on its face is simply to score as many points as possible by linking together and landing various kinds of air tricks, grinds, and manuals, though some locations offer up sub challenges like "wall ride the lockers" or "do a 900 on the vert ramp."
You control your skateboarder using one side of the screen to steer the direction of your board and the other to propel your board forward via taps, doing ollies by swiping off the ground, and initiating air tricks by swiping in the air. There are also more complicated maneuvers like grinds and transfers that are managed similarly to give you just about every kind of skate trick you can think of at your disposal.
This concept for a skating game is 100% sound (After all, it is the basic template of a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater title), but the way you control your skater can prove more meddlesome than feels necessary. Tapping to kick your board in particular seems like an odd decision that can lead to accidentally jumping when you don't mean to and other control issues.
There's also the fact that Pocket Skate only has a handful of skating venues and only one of them actually features additional challenges beyond trying to score big. Even if you are just trying to up your score, there are things to work toward like unlocking new tricks to do and new skaters to control. These incentives don't feel as fulfilling to do if you aren't also trying to complete sub challenges, though, which can lock you into repeatedly skating in one area in particular.
Outside of one minute runs, you can also free skate, which just places you in its locations with no time constraint. Outside of that and a training mode (which doubles as the in-game tutorial) though, there's not a whole lot here.
To be clear, Pocket Skate doesn't have to be some sprawling, fully-featured skating game to grip me. But, what is in the game needs to have enough substance and variety to it to keep me wanting to play and replay it, and I'm not sure that between some of the odd controls and limited challenge opportunities that it does that.
The bottom line
Pocket Skate follows a very promising template of how to make a compelling skating game, but its small scope gives the few issues it has very little room to hide and very few opportunities to look beyond them. So, despite being largely competent, Pocket Skate's minor wrinkles prevent it from being the smooth ride it ought to be.