SkateBIRD review on Nintendo Switch

Reviewed by Joe Rino

Honestly when I saw a skateboarding game coming out for Nintendo Switch starring a bird I knew I had to get in on it. SkateBIRD was announced before Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 was confirmed to release on Nintendo Switch. Now that there’s a Bird and a Hawk skating through the eShop, it’s time to see which one is fowl, and which one is a mighty duck. 

Tony Hawk games were a staple in my gamer growth path. Putting together that perfect combo in the school level was what skater dreams were made of. But can a bird on a board be the same as a Hawk? The game relies heavily on this gimmick. Let’s hit the pavement. 

SkateBIRD Details

  • Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One and Amazon Luna
  • Developer(s): Glass Bottom Games
  • Publisher(s): Glass Bottom Games
  • Genre: Sports, Racing, Simulation
  • Modes: Single player
  • ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Canary Campaign

Starting off, there’s immediately some choices to be made. Begin Adventure takes players right into the campaign. Skate Another Park gives players a chance to travel to their favourite locations. Finally there’s some fantastic game options which allows players to customize difficulty to their personal standards, and Mixtape lets players decide what plays while they skate. These are nice quality of life settings as sometimes, players may not enjoy a song in the soundtrack. It’s wonderful to have the option to skip it. 

Immediately after beginning the campaign, the loading screen is presented to the player. Loading was a tad long to be honest, but the create-a-bird I was greeted with was a treat. Players can choose from a variety of birds like Woodpeckers, Pigeons, and even a Burrowing Owl. Then dressing them up is the next fun part. The only gripe here is that when choosing certain items like what is worn on the back of your bird, or what skateboard they use ends up being impossible to see; because of the view of the bird given to the player. Perhaps a future update will fix this stationary pose.

Clunky controls and not so clear visuals

The game is very clear about what it is… this is not your traditional skate sim. SkateBIRD does however embrace its Tony Hawk Pro Skater game influence. The campaign relies on players completing objectives through exploring the level. The levels themselves are from a bird's eye view though… they are pretty blurry on Nintendo Switch and there were quite a bit of frame skips. The controls definitely feel like a bird is on wheels. The clunky controls do not feel like riding a metaphorical bike from the THPS days. Arcade skate sims need to be reliable. I found myself never quite doing what I wanted to do at the start of the game.

The dialogue is fantastic between bird missions. Talking to other birds around the arena ticks off your mission checklist. It would have been great to see a working list in a pause menu, but it’s also not a terrible thing to just explore as a bird on a skateboard normally does. The first level is mainly a tutorial, but then you're out of the flock and flying solo. Discovering secrets was fun and once I got the hang of the controls, the campaign became much more enjoyable. Getting secret tapes and such was unfortunately very frustrating though because the accuracy of the controls was never perfectly on point. The game's speed can be slowed down, but it felt like an anti gravity cheat code. The normal speed is certainly the organic way to play. 

Parrot Play

Gameplay in SkateBIRD is very similar to any arcade skate simulation title. Move your skater (in this case a 3D floofy bird) with the control stick, Ollie with A, flip tricks with X, grab with B and grind and lip tricks with Y. Any fan of a Tony Hawk game will feel right at home. However the familiarity stops there. The birds are trying to inspire their humans by skating for a cause. Make the human rekindle their love for skate culture. Birds grind and kickflip over random inanimate objects in bird sized locations. The owner's room is the first level. 

The gameplay is good and with some more accuracy polish, it could be really fun. The amount of times I could have sworn I hit the right button and gotten the wrong response was too frustrating to enjoy. Ollies are muddled with a double jump mechanic that while makes sense for a bird to do, isn’t needed.

Collecting tapes, and finding secrets around the levels definitely feels like an accomplishment due to the difficulty in accuracy. Gameplay controls in sports simulation games, be it games based on people or poultry need accurate control schemes.

Flock this Way or Fly South?

It’s a tough verdict to give. I really walked in wanting to absolutely love SkateBIRD. I’ve been following it since its announcement and I knew I couldn’t expect a ton of content from it since it’s a budgie title only coming in at $19.99 CAD. The fuzzy graphic landscapes and the inaccurate input controls take away from an absolutely charming presentation. The character customization is fantastic and the unlocks are well worth collecting. The level design is very creative as well. If you’re able to get over the rather large gameplay issues, and want to turn your brain off and wheel out with a Warbler; than SkateBIRD is for you. If not, you’re better off saving the extra cash and picking up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. 


  • Humorous presentation
  • Customization is surprisingly deep
  • Great variety of things to do in the game


  • Controls are occasionally inaccurate
  • Fuzzy graphics
  • Camera problems in character creation and lack of polish


  1. I can't wait to try this!! I got it on Amazon Luna for now! But depending on how good it is there may have to nab a switch physical if possible! Nice review! I need to come here more often!

    1. I would like to win this because as a skater I love skating games so much the skate physics are looking totally tubular and I can't wait to heelflip as a blue Jay haha Twitter handle is Squidzzzgaming

  2. Great review, Joe! Thanks for your insightful input. I must say, I also really enjoyed the puns and plays on words.

  3. Bird themed review? I dig it.
    I tried the demo of this game when it was released, hopefully they fixed some of the issues (probably not judging from you review).
    Nevertheless I’m still looking forward to try this game, in fact I’ve been looking forward to it since it got announced I don’t know… there’s just something tubular about shredding an ollie as little bird.
    SK8 or die! Shirp shirp shirp
    Also I don’t know why the devs didn’t include a baby hawk named Tony as a playable character.

  4. Grats on the review Joe. I enjoy the pieces of birb humour!

    I remember trying Skatebird on the Xbox One via the ID@Xbox Summer Game Fest Demo Event Showcases in 2020. It was a little rough during that period and it sounds like some of the flaws have still come to the full release. Still, it's super cute and pretty enjoyable as it sounds!

    I'm glad the dialogue remains humourous. That stood out to me and has many moments of laughter. I think the humour and overall cuteness of the birds (and customization of the species!) is why I would want to win the contest you're holding.

    Keep up the great work and hope to read more reviews from you in the future!

    1. Congrats you have been randomly chosen as a winner of SkateBIRD on Xbox. Please send me an email to claim your prize!

    2. Woohoo! Thanks so much! This is going to be a lot of fun for the family :)


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