Skater XL review: From Frightmare Flip to Nightmare Flop

Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd
Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd /

Skater XL clumsily tries to reinvent the skateboarding genre.

Title: Skater XL
Developer: Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd
Publisher: Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed on), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: Jul 28, 2020

When I was in my late teens and early 20’s I used to skateboard. I wasn’t particularly good but I could do some sweet manuals. I had a collection of Hookup boards that I didn’t necessarily think were good but I loved the anime aesthetic. And I could lose a friend in a single hour with my long-winded “skateboarding is not a crime” rants. I even remember the Thanksgiving where I ditched my entire family to watch Tony Hawk knock out the 900. So I have some history and some knowledge when it comes to boarding.

Skater XL is here to teach this old dog new tricks. Unfortunately, these tricks open a world of nightmares I didn’t necessarily want to explore. For example, in real life, if I failed a kickflip, I’d fall on my ass and question my life choices. But as Skater XL taught me, sometimes failing a kickflip will also send you plummeting through the parking lot and sailing through a cloudy void as the city you were skating in becomes a distant memory in the skies above you.

Skater XL review
Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd /

When you start Skater XL, one of the first things you’ll notice is that you’re in the game. Like… bamf, you’re in there. There’s no menu or options to explore, you just immediately find yourself skateboarding in the tutorial. And it gives you a decent understanding of most of the controls with a slow trickle of trophies making you feel like you’re making progress.

Skater XL review
Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd /

Upon completion, you can pause the game and check the few menu choices. Every map is open to you right out of the gate. There are five stages plus three stages that were taken from the PC version’s mod mode which is absent in the console release.

Once there you can feel free to skate around and crash into everything, which you will, a lot. Skater XL seems to have looked at the Skate game and the flack it received for its complex controls and wondered if the complaints stemmed from the controls not being more complicated.

You can’t turn the camera, you move forward with X, you stop with O, the triggers turn you and each joystick controls each foot. Every one of these controls is so counter-intuitive it’s like trying to play piano using a drum set.

I know that these controls aren’t for everyone but that’s why I gave it hours. I picked up playing the ocarina at a basic level in about half a day and I could jokingly play the Love Theme from Titanic on the accordion the same day I bought one, so I know about learning complex things with strange controls. Hell, I still love the DJ Hero games.

But even after about four or five hours of honest effort with my wife sitting next to me urging me to keep trying, I was basically flinging my body into every object in every city. And sometimes I would just get near an object like a cop car or a shipping container and it would just suck part of my body into it like a strange vacuum and then yank my body to the ground. Needless to say, I sent a lot of avatars to the hospital that fateful night.

Skater XL review
Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd /

It honestly did feel good when I landed a successful trick but, admittedly, it also felt like luck. Like if you threw something across the room and instead of it going where you wanted, it bounced off something else and landed gracefully in a box.

In the collage of trophies above, you’ll see I earned a silver trophy. This was given to me because I got stuck in a frozen rail grind and, in an attempt to free myself, I accidentally pulled off a long chain of tricks while stuck in the air. I later looked at what I needed to do to earn this trophy legitly and I would have never been able to accomplish this on purpose.

The perspective and the physics of the game make aiming tricks neigh impossible. Often I’d go in for a rail grind on a bench and found myself sailing over it. I’d go at it slowly and I’d land on the ground right in front of the rail and then find myself tripping and sliding into the distance on my forehead. Things are way floatier than in real life. Sometimes I’d accidentally fall on a curb and my character would slowly fall to the side like a deflating balloon.

Let’s explore the world outside of just skateboarding though. Like I said, the game has five maps standard and three it took from the PC version’s mod community as if to tease console owners that the PC people get to actually build stages.

When you’re in the world, the first thing you’ll notice is that the world is empty. I haven’t experienced a game world this devoid of life since Everybody’s Gone to Rapture but at least with that game, the lack of people is explained. In Skater XL you’re just the only person in the city. There’s even a stationary parked car with the lights on near the school and no one inside of it. It weirdly made me sad.

As for character creation, it’s in there but it’s very minimal. You can choose from either a man, a woman, or one of four pro skaters. It does nothing to affect the story because there is no story. Nor progression. Nor goals. It took me about 10 minutes to make the character seen here.

Skater XL review
Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd /

It wasn’t because of a wealth of options though. It’s because the customization menu is broken. I shuffled through the shirts too quickly and the in-game music started to skip like a scratched CD in an old Sony Discman.

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I tried different hairstyles and it slowed the game down. When I finally stopped touching my controller to let the game catch up, it then decided to completely shut the game down, forcing me to restart. This is very surprising because the characters you create look like something out of a Tony Hawk game for the PS3.

I went into this game wanting to like it. I really did. I miss skateboarding games and I desperately wanted to sink my teeth into this and I tried. I spent hours trying to get the controls down and I got to a point where I looked at my wife and said, “I think I’m getting worse.”

It means well and if someone can click with these controls they might be able to do some impressive things. But ultimately their sweet line of tricks would still be marred by the fact that it would take place in something that just felt like a tech demo. The game is devoid of any goals or multiplayer, where accomplishments mean nothing because no one is left on the planet to praise you or call the cops on you.

4. Clumsy controls and poor physics make Skater XL a challenge to enjoy. The gameplay is marred with the fact that the world itself will thwart you with constant clipping errors, glitches, and complete game shutdowns. Skater XL feels like it was just trying to capitalize on the people excited for the new Tony Hawk Remasters.. Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd. . Skater XL

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.