Game Design, Game Reviews

Skatelander – a game worth your time

icon175x175When researching for the Skatelander game, the first thing I came across is the fact that it has won an award for Best Indie Game at the PGConnect Gamehack 2015 in Mumbai, and that’s enough evidence that this is an awesome game, no matter what I writAvailable on iTunese here.

But what I’m about to write in this article won’t differ much from what boys and girls in Mumbai thought – this seriously is a really good game.

Skatelander is an endless arcade skateboarding game developed by underDOGS Gaming for iOS. Unfortunately, the Android and Windows versions are not yet released, which had me looking at my LG G3 in disappointment.

Contemporary look

In it you take control of a skater (obviously) and try to ride for as long as you can without hitting an obstacle or skidding off the road. To be honest, the game had me hooked at first sight – it has a pixelated look, accompanied by bright and sharp colours. That combination makes the game look contemporary even though the graphics remind me of the 90s.

If I had to compare it with anything, it most closely resembles any of the LEGO games. Using your skater, you have to avoid tons of obstacles – cones, traffic signs, elderly people crossing the road, cars, trees and whatnot – the developers were really creative and imaginative in creating these.

final

Tony Hawk? Never heard of him.

The road is actually a bridge of some sort, as you’re surrounded by water on both sides. This means that not only you can fail the game by hitting an obstacle, if you’re not careful you can also end up drowning in the sea.

The water is filled with boats cruising around, which is a really sweet detail to give the game the much needed make-up.

Even though the game is a platformer, it’s three dimensional as you can move forward, to the side as well as jump to perform stunts.

The controls are as simple as they can be – press and hold the left side of your screen to have your skater move left – press and hold the right side to have him go right. The stunts are also easy to perform as there’s a single button on the screen that has the character doing stunts when you press them.

Added value

All of this seems nice, but fancy pixelated graphics and bright colours are not enough to make an award-winning game. Where Skatelander really excels is the in-game economy and how it uses it to add the much needed replay value to the game.

The game offers 60+ characters, a couple dozen additional skateboards and a bunch of stunts that can be purchased for in-game coins. They have even managed to make a complete mini-game out of the character purchase, you are presented with a creation box where new characters are “built.”

The coins can be collected while playing the game (there are a lot of dollar bills flying around the map as you play), and you can also watch the in-game video ad to get extra cash.

These purchases are merely cosmetic, but bring enough to have you asking for more. Some characters are animated and do various silly things while riding that are a joy to watch (I’m not going to spoil the surprise). Other characters change the entire surroundings of the game to better fit them, which is also an amazing feature.

But wait, there’s more!

The stunts can’t be performed whenever you feel like it. There’s a loading bar on the left side of the screen, and you must wait for it to fill up before you can perform a stunt. Also, you start with a basic stunt that rewards you with only 3 points, but as you progress through the game and buy better stunts, you get rewarded with more points.

The points add up to your overall score which can be “shared with the world,” as the developer puts it. Yes, you can share you achievements on social media.

And in the manner of the late, great Billy Mays, allow me to say: “But wait, there’s more!”

After playing the game, it offers you with a mini-game of sorts, a slot machine which rewards you with a certain amount of cash.

That cash can, yet again, be invested into new characters, new boards or additional stunts.

All things considered, Skatelander is probably one of the best indie mobile games I’ve played so far, and I’ve played a lot of them. It has everything – solid graphics, simple controls, great sense of humour and amazing replay value. It’s simple in design, but detailed in execution, with character animations, accompanying sounds, humorous obstacles and mini-games for both coin collecting and coin spending.

Every aspect of the game has been thought through and implemented in great detail. However, being a reviewer I am obliged to find at least one negative side of the game – there’s no sequel!

Also, please hurry up and make the Android version!

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