I love skateboarding games. I’m a former skater, so it’s nice to keep up with that hobby in some capacity, even if it’s through a virtual means via my favourite activity, videogames. Yes, this means I’m well-versed in these sorts of games. There’s not a Tony Hawk game I’m yet to play. I know the pain of Disney Sports Skateboarding and the joy of Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure.
But, as much as I love to revisit the Pro Skater games, American Wasteland, the aforementioned Disney titles, and The Simpsons Skateboarding should I think I need to punish myself for something, I always welcome a new skateboarding game. Since the amazing remasters of Tony Hawk’s: Pro Skater 1 + 2, I’ve been waiting for another game to flip into my life and wow me.
Enter Session: Skate Sim, a game I hear plenty about and have even resisted buying on my PS5 in hopes of a Switch port. Well, here we are, and I can say that it doesn’t bring my expectations of ‘wow’ to life. In fact, I’d argue that this is the worst experience I’ve ever had with a skate game, and that’s saying something. Looking at you Tony Hawk: Pro Skater 5, you bug-riddled mess.
Let me be frank here, it’s entirely to do with the Switch port, I firmly believe that it’s bound to run better on other platforms, and if it doesn’t, boy oh boy are we in trouble, as the performance of Session on Nintendo Switch reminds me of the gnarly bails that come from being hit by a car in most skateboarding games – it’s painful and I wish it never happened.
The game is stuttery as all hell, the framerates feel non-existent, and the graphics are so grainy I can’t help but wonder if a farmer is about to serve my Switch to a combine harvester. Honestly, everything that can go wrong performance-wise has. I can’t say that there’s been a single second of enjoyment for me with Session: Skater Sim on Nintendo Switch.
Not only does it look questionable at best, but the controls barely work. Turning has never felt so stiff, and I know that getting to grips with how to do an ollie is the hardest thing in real life, but my god does it have to feel near impossible to nail in a videogame too? No matter what, I can’t get it to work consistently, and this is a shock to me as Session: Skate Sim is a spiritual successor to the Skate trilogy, three of the best skateboarding games of all time, yet the controls aren’t there.
Again, this could very well be different on the other platforms and I sincerely hope it is, as I do see potential in the game. I can see that the control scheme takes influence from Skate in that your tricks rely on the use of the right analogue stick, and that includes the ollie. In games such as Pro Skater, you use a button for the ollie, and then either go for the analogue stick, other buttons, or a combination of the two to nail some tricks.
It’s a system that works, though the execution and implementation of it do vary from game to game, and I can say that Skate’s approach with it all relying on the right analogue stick is fantastic. It gives a more authentic feeling, admittedly, but the Switch version of Session misses the mark by a mile.
Furthermore, while I can appreciate the abandoned city in which you get to skate, it feels almost lazy. Part of the charm of other games is the hustle and bustle of streets around you, the pedestrians, the cars, the interactive environments, all help to create an immersive experience. Yet, that’s not on offer in Session: Skate Sim. Perhaps I wouldn’t mind this as much if the game ran as it should and the controls worked correctly.
But, as it stands, the bland environments only add to the game’s detriment. However, I can and will say that there are plenty of opportunities to perform some tricks, as there are various skate parks, grind spots, ramps, and more throughout the world. So from that standpoint, it’s great to come across something like a tennis net, and work out how to pull off the best trick with it – very true to how skaters roll in real life.
I also like that the game doesn’t feature a score system, so it’s truly about the freedom of skating throughout the world. If we take any of the Pro Skater or Underground games for example, they have small timers on how long you have in each map, and that’s something that puts limitations in place, at least until you unlock them in free skate.
Nonetheless, I can’t in good conscience recommend that you play Session: Skate Sim on Nintendo Switch, it’s a miserable experience that’s bound to leave you longing for the likes of Skate and Tony Hawk’s: American Wasteland. However, while I consider this to be a rather dismal port, it could well perform and run a lot better on PC, PlayStation, or Xbox. So, should you be set on this game, make sure you explore other options.
If you want to make sure that you have a flipping great time, grind on over to our best skateboarding games list.
Session: Skate Sim is a buggy and low performing mess on Nintendo Switch that’s likely to make you run back into the arms of Tony Hawk. The controls are funky in this port and the bland world only adds to an already skippable experience. However, should it perform better on other platforms, it could be worth a try based on the freedom of world exploration with what could be intuitive controls.