The New Tony Hawk Game Is For Phones And It's Bad

By Zack Zwiezen on at

Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam is the newest skateboarding game from world-famous skater Tony Hawk. It tries to recapture the magic of those old Pro Skater games, but ends up feeling really bad to play.

I loved the Tony Hawk games. For years I would excitedly buy each new installment. So when I heard The Birdman was working on a new game, I was ready to play it. Even though it was a mobile game, I was still curious. I’ve enjoyed plenty of mobile games in the past. Maybe I’d enjoy Tony Hawk’s new game?

The short answer is: no. I didn’t like Skate Jam at all.

In Skate Jam, Tony Hawk appears at the start of the game and teaches you how to play. He looks a bit sad and quickly reminds me that it’s him, Tony Hawk. I know it’s you dude. I just downloaded your game.

The tutorial immediately made me realise that touch controls and skateboarding might not be a great mix. In other mobile games, like Shadowgun Legends, I feel like the developers have done a good job of making controls feel responsive. That isn’t the case in Skate Jam.

Doing an ollie is easy enough: tap a big button. But the moment the game wanted me to do tricks, things got harder. Sometimes I could pull off a kick-flip, other times I would just ollie up and down without doing anything. I was never sure why my trick wasn’t working. It was very inconsistent and at one point I got stuck in the tutorial for a few minutes because I just couldn’t figure out how to grind on a rail. I was hitting the button, but I would just jump over the rail.

Eventually I did finish the intro. Then I was faced with a mess of a main menu. It feels like three different mobile game menus got put into a blender and mixed up into this monster.

Levels in Skate Jam work like old Tony Hawk games. Each map has a series of challenges, like score 50,000 points or collect different letters. Actually completing these challenges is frustrating.

I play a lot of mobile games and I think I’m fairly comfortable with touch controls, but I just couldn’t get the hang of these controls at all. My skater flipped and flopped around the level desperately trying to grind a rail. Sometimes my manic flipping and swiping would result in a decent combo, though more often it resulted in nothing. Not even a funny crash.

This game seems to be a re-skin of a different mobile game made by the same developers of Skate Jam. That game is called Skateboard Party 3, and I played it when it came out and I didn’t like it much either! Just adding Tony Hawk doesn’t make something better.

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam does have one fun ability. When you fill up your special meter you can activate it and become Tony Hawk. Sadly, even as Tony Hawk I couldn’t pull off any sick tricks. Instead Tony Hawk just slid around a park, sometimes running into walls.

Perhaps it was my big fingers, but I sometimes had a hell of time seeing what I was doing. All the buttons are moved to the edge of the screen and still I found my fingers getting between me and Skate Jam. Even when I could pull off a trick, my fat fingers covered it up.

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam isn’t the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater successor I wanted. Maybe if this is ported to the Switch and I could play it on a bigger screen with a controller this might work. But for now, Skate Jam is just a sad and frustrating game.