As I’ve talked about before, Pocket Halfpipe from Australian indie developer Peter Leary was one of my favorite games way back in 2011. It offered a slice of halfpipe skating that emphasized stylish visuals and attitude as well as intuitive touch controls over all-out realistic simulation. It always felt like the base of something that could be a much more full-featured skateboarding game, and so now more than a decade later we have exactly that with the newly released Pocket Skate.
Similar to Pocket Halfpipe, Pocket Skate distills skateboarding down to something manageable on a touchscreen and digestible in smaller chunks, with a focus on satisfying mechanics and a great sense of style. Except this time around it does all that with street skating rather than halfpipe skating. It’s a more traditional control scheme this time around too, with a virtual stick on the left for steering and a button on the right for pushing and tricking. This is probably for the best as Pocket Halfpipe’s tilt-based rotation was pretty divisive.
There are 3 environments in Pocket Skate on launch, but more are planned for release in future updates. These areas are on the smaller side by design, but each offer some unique objects to skate on from typical skatepark ramps to more street-oriented stairs, rails, and ledges. The main game mode is a score attack which sees you amassing as many points as possible in a 1-minute time frame, but there’s a Free Skate mode too if you just want to skate around for fun. There are also a couple of different extra goals to shoot for every run, which include things like grinding a particular object or performing a particular trick somewhere.
The scores you earn and the extra goals you complete all feed into an overarching progression system which sees you leveling up to unlock new characters and tricks, and there are also Game Center leaderboards and achievements. The overall skating mechanics in Pocket Skate take some warming up to, but having all these carrots on sticks makes it fun to keep trying, and it’s satisfying seeing my skills improve with every session. Much like the original Pocket Halfpipe there is the foundation of something great here that has potential to be expanded on in all sorts of ways, but even as is Pocket Skate is a great option (out of not very many options to begin with) for anyone looking for a mobile skateboarding game that focuses on fun over realism.