For full disclosure, the PR representative of this title is a personal friend of the writer.
Skating was more than doing tricks for me, it was a mode of transportation and a part of my identity. I have so many fond memories of skating my favorite routes during the summers as a kid. I would ride skate by the bay in Crown Point, or often venture into Point Loma and Ocean Beach. Skate City, developed by Agnes Games and Room 8 Studio, brings me back to those days.
In Skate City, you’ll skate through looping tracks in three different locations: Barcelona, Los Angeles, and Oslo. In my favorite stage, LA, you start in a park, go through a school, see the Carlsbad gap (RIP), swing by the beach, and then you come back to that starting park. The 2.5D stages really help objects and people in the foreground and the background going about their days stand out.
Weather and time of day are factors as well. I would often skate through LA until it turned to night or started to rain. This was how I skated back in the day. I was a little daredevil. Dark roads or rainy nights – nothing stopped me from skating. It is a very satisfying and calming experience in Skate City now just as it was years ago.
When I would skate, music was so key to that experience. Stone Temple Pilots, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Cake were always in rotation on my dad’s hand-me-down iPod, either there to pump me up for a good skate or just give me mellow vibes. Skate City’s OST perfectly nails the vibe for me. Songs like “Rite There” and “Wunderbar” help to pump me up for a good in-game session, whereas songs like “Beams” and “Lazy Dayzy” help me vibe out and cruise.
The act of skating itself in Skate City is relatively simple which makes the mellow experience more enjoyable for someone like me. The left and right sticks control your foot placement and if you are gonna pop tricks with your left foot or right foot. You can just simply flick an analog stick in one of the eight directions to pop a trick. However If you are coming up to a gap, you might opt to hold for a bit longer to get the direction you are flicking the stick in correctly. You have eight tricks for each direction on an analog stick, and this is a very easy system to control. It makes the toolset very easy to use, and streamlines the act of skating itself, it is not as fast and combo heavy as an OlliOlli nor has the complexity of something like Session. It is more approachable in so many ways than those games, due to the more simple controls. Skate City is a very streamlined skating game, and its whole design is meant to be approachable.
In each stage, there are a set of challenges which you can do on the track like outrunning a cop, winning a race, or trying to get a high score in a certain time frame. You unlock more intense challenges as you complete the one’s available, with each stage’s initial set of challenges acting like a difficulty rating. LA is very introductory, and is meant to show you the ropes and get a good feel for the board and stages, while Barcelona serves as a true test of mastery. The challenge and your overall star rating you achieve on your run determines the amount of currency you have to spend on improving your skater. It’s the primary means for leveling up your skills in the shop, gaining access to other stages, unlocking iconic tricks, and changing your skater’s look.
It wouldn’t be a skating game without a shop that has clothing options, skills to upgrade, and decks to gather and customize. There are some good clothing options, but there are no skating brands to use for your look. I would love to have put my skater in an Element long-sleeve and find a Flip deck to give them. But I found a look that I liked: a basic gray tee, a baseball cap, some jeans, and a board that said “Bonkers”. I modeled this look off of one of my own, back when I skated on an Arto Sarri Flip deck, something not flashy because that was my vibe back then. In the shop, upgrading things like your vertical height when you pop a trick, or colloquially called “pop”, speed and balance are musts in the game if you want to tackle the later challenges for some stages. Getting more iconic tricks, like the Impossible and Benihana, are important in some of the open world challenges to do over gaps.
Skate City took me back to the day-to-day summer skates that I would go on in my childhood, following the same paths almost everyday. It is the easiest, mellowest, and low-stress skating game I have played in a long time. You are meant to enjoy the ride and vibe out. If you want to make your skater have a stronger skillset, different looks, and access to the other stages then the challenges are there to do. Skate City resonated with me, because it is not something you are meant to burn through. It is all about taking your time, finding your confidence with the board and to take it one skate at a time.
This game was played on a Xbox Series S system with a code provided by a PR representative of the title.