I have always been a fan of the quick-play mobile games. From mobile game staples like Crossy Road, to newer games like Swipe Me Out, I absolutely love being able to play a game for a few rounds, get some coins, maybe collect a new skin or reward, and then go back to whatever I had been previously doing. It is this sort of micro gameplay experience that I get hooked on the most.
Halfbrick Studios is no stranger to quick-play mobile games, having released hits like Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja. Their newest game, Star Skater, largely follows the quick-play trend — and that’s quite all right with me.
As a skater dude or skater chick, players launch themselves down winding roads, seeking to complete each short course as fast as possible. Star Skater rewards players with in-game currency and magical burritos which can be used to unlock skins and obtain power-ups respectively. Leaderboards track each track’s best scores and players can compare them with their friends to keep the game as competitive as they’d like it to be.
One of the key mechanics, and in my opinion the most rewarding part of Star Skater to master, is handling how the skater turns. Instead of just tapping-and-holding the left or right sides of the screen to make the skater glide to either side, players have to tap and drag their finger on either side of the screen in order to indicate the desired sharpness of the turn. So, for example, if the player is about to make a sharp left turn, they would place their finger towards the upper left corner and quickly drag their finger down the screen. Or for a gentle right turn, players can just place their finger midway up the right side of the screen and slowly pull their finger down to gradually turn to the right.
This mechanic really adds a nice, tactile feel to the controls of Star Skater that the game wouldn’t have had if it had simply adopted a tap-and-hold-to-move control scheme.
The rewards for doing well, however, are a bit lacking. Yes there are multiple character skins to unlock (fourteen in total), but apart from a few, none of them are really that stand-out great. There are a handful of holiday skins, some outer space-themed skins, and a few random animal ones thrown in, but I really feel like Star Skater could have benefited with a more eclectic array of characters to unlock. These type of quick-play games are most fun when players get to readily unlock new cosmetic content to change up the largely repetitive experience as they chase their highscores.
Instead the game only occasionally rewarded me with a character skin, but gave me plenty of magic burritos to use for powerups or skateboard designs that I could hardly see since my character was standing on them.
I enjoyed Star Skater for its engaging controls and how it’s easy to just pick it up and play it for a round or two whenever I have a free minute, I just wish the content I was given to work towards unlocking was more cosmetically diverse. Skateboard designs and custom wheels are cool, but having more skaters to choose from would have been cooler.