- Selection Criteria
- #1 - Session Skate Sim
- #2 - Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
- #3 - Olli Olli World
- #4 - Tanuki Sunset
- #5 - VR Skater
- #6 - Rollerdrome
- #7 - Skate City
- #8 - Thirsty Suitors
- #9 - Skate Story (Bonus Entry)
- #10 - Sword of the Sea (Bonus Entry)
- #11 - Helskate (Bonus Entry)
- Honorable Mentions
- Do A Kickflip!
Here’s a fun fact about me to kick things off. I’m a 28-year-old man who still regularly breaks out his skateboard and shreds the gnar despite my ever-weakening knees and my general lack of energy. I’m no Tony Hawk, but I have a few moves.
Why do I say all of this? Well, because through this stubborn persistence to avoid growing up, I feel I am as qualified as anyone to tell you what makes a brilliant skating game.
I’ve played just about any skating game going, whether it be a hyperrealistic simulator, a THPS-style arcade epic, or even a game that swaps out a board for a BMX or Rollerblades.
It’s a genre that has always excited me, and while it has seen many highs and lows, I always live in the hope that the next skating game will be the one that catches the lightning in a bottle that the THPS series did in the late nineties.
These shining beacons of hope tend to be represented by the indie gaming collective, and believe it or not, there are some truly amazing skating games that cater to all abilities. So whether you are still learning to Ollie or working on your Backside Noseblunts, we have a game for you.
So, grab a board, and let’s drop in. This is Indie Game Culture’s list of Ten Amazing Skating Games You Need to Play!
As always, we want to lay down some ground rules to ensure that this list is as stacked as it possibly can be, so here are the criteria that we ran with this time around:
- All games must be Indie and AA titles
- All games must have an aggregate Metacritic score of 65% or higher
- All games must have skating as their primary gameplay mechanic (So no mini-games)
- We will also consider games where BMX, Scooters, and Rollerblades are involved
Okay, it’s time to tear it up; let’s do it!
Developer: Creature Studios
Metacritic Score: 67%
We will begin with what is easily my favorite skating game of the moment, Session: Skate Sim. This is a game that is made to be the most true-to-life and realistic skating game on the market.
It’s not like the THPS games of old where you can jump 50 feet in the air and do a double-heelflip Mctwist right off the bat. You’ll need to work hard to master the basics, and this sense of struggle and reward is exactly what real-life skating is all about.
This game is also steeped in Skating culture, allowing you to skate Brooklyn Banks as it was back in the day or hit The Gonz Gap in San Francisco, and you can even earn challenge rewards by emulating old tricks from video parts down the years.
It’s a skating game made for skaters, and while casual fans might not appreciate the level of detail and the barriers to entry the difficulty brings, I will stand my ground and say that Session is the best realistic skate sim around, so if you haven’t tried it, I would highly recommend it.
Developer: Team Reptile
Metacritic Score: 75%
If you were a fan of skating games when the Dreamcast was still alive and kicking, then you may remember a game called Jet Set Radio, a less punk and more urban street gang take on the skate scene.
We have seen other games try to capture the magic of that masterful SEGA outing, but I would argue that none have quite managed it as brilliantly as Bomb Rush Cyberfunk.
This one acts as a spiritual successor to Jet Set, providing a sprawling city of New Amsterdam to explore, and plenty of tags to hit to become the most hyped street gang across all territories.
In this game, you can either BMX, Rollerblade or Skate to get around, and the gameplay isn’t as technical and combo-based as some games of this nature. Instead, focusing on style and flow above all else. Really, it’s as much a platformer as it is a skating game, and that blend works excellently in practice.
It’s a reminder of just how incredible Jet Set Radio was, but Bomb Rush does more than enough to make a name for itself, so be sure to check this one out and tag your name all over the city!
#3 – Olli Olli World
Metacritic Score: 84%
I’ve always been a huge fan of Roll7 and, indeed, the OlliOlli series, as this developer knows how to put together a game that brings the high-score chasing arcade days of old, and somehow brings this to the forefront of modern gaming.
I think that OlliOlli has always been a strong series, but OlliOlliWorld is the sharpest and most polished iteration of this game yet that tightens up every aspect of this game while adding much-appreciated extras to make it a manic, fast-paced skating gauntlet run that’s easy to pick up and play, but tough to truly master.
For those only looking to feel the wind in their hair as they zoom down slopes and leap over canyons, this game provides an accessible and satisfying experience, but for those looking to earn bragging rights, pull off ridiculous combos, and grind their trucks into oblivion, this game offers a stern test of skill only true rippers will be able to manage.
It’s a title so good that I honestly don’t know what OlliOlli as a series can do to make it any better. Perhaps they can’t, but that would be fine, as this one is sure to go down as a timeless arcade epic that you need to pick up and play.
#4 – Tanuki Sunset
Developer: Rewind Games
Metacritic Score: 74%
Raccoons are cute, right? Those little trash pandas look so cute and cuddly. Honestly, what could make them more lovable? Well, what if you could play as an ambitious Longboarding Raccoon with a dream of making it on the cover of a magazine? Well, that very specific dream can now be a reality through Tanuki Sunset.
This game allows you to take control of a Longboarding Raccoon in an endless runner style game where you will need to perform daring tricks and avoid incoming traffic to rack up points, unlock more impressive gear, and become the best downhill drifting critter in the land.
It’s a chill casual game that allows you to gradually grow in competence as your runs become longer and more stylish, and even offers a fun 80’s inspired neon art style, complete with a well-suited synthwave soundtrack to bop to as you hit top speeds.
So if this sounds like fun and you want to help Tanuki achieve their dream of fortune and fame, then think aerodynamic thoughts and set off downhill.
#5 – VR Skater
Developer: Defecit Games
Metacritic Score: 78%
Of all the games on this list, VR Skater was the one I doubted the most. I just couldn’t picture a VR format that would truly capture the authentic feeling of skating, but I’m willing to admit my skepticism was misplaced, as this game proves that skating and VR make an excellent combo.
VR Skater allows you to play through a series of levels where you will need to perform Street Runs, Best Trick Runs, and No Bail Runs in an attempt to own each area of the city and master this game’s unique but well-implemented skating mechanics.
Players will use their hand movements as if they were your feet, using them to pop, scoop, flick, lock in grinds, and grab your board in a bid to pull off ridiculous lines. Plus, as a pretty well-tenured VR player, this is one of the rare games that made me lose my legs and got the adrenaline pumping, which I see as an added bonus.
So, for any VR fans on the fence about this one, consider this a green light from one skater to another; VR Skater is the real deal.
Metacritic Score: 79%
This will be the one and only non-skateboarding game on this list, but aside from the fact that this game is a love letter to rollerblading instead, it has the look and feel of a THPS-inspired skating game, I assure you.
This one also featured in our Best Indie Mashups list, as this title blends arcade skateboarding combos with 3rd-person Shooter mechanics to offer a high-octane battle royale of sorts where combat and skating are on equal billing.
If you don’t skate well, you won’t get a high score to move on to the next stage, and if you aren’t a skilled combatant, you’ll die. So, the stakes are pretty high.
Much like Roll7’s other indie skater OlliOlli, Rollerdrome is easy to pick up and play, but ramps up fast to offer a very challenging campaign that forces players to master all the finer mechanics to proceed. Realistic skating is great and all, but how often do you get to use a hip transfer to do a backflip over a mech while firing a rocket launcher?
In short, it’s no-holds-barred chaos, and effectively offers the player THPS gameplay with guns. It’s a great elevator pitch and one that has been brought to life incredibly.
#7 – Skate City
Metacritic Score: 70%
We then move on to a game that offers a perfect middle ground between realistic skaters like Session: Skate Sim and arcade endless-runners like OlliOlli.
Skate City is a game that allows players to play across a number of real-world 2D side-scrolling cities, but instead of focusing on superhuman feats of skating brilliance found in THPS and OlliOlli, Skate City strips the gameplay back to have the player aim to complete challenges where more true-to-life tricks like Tre-flips, Back Tails, and Hardflips will punctuate your runs.
It’s a game where flow matters more than anything else, and it’s all about keeping your run going with consistent grinds, flips, and rotations to keep things interesting. I would argue that this one is the best option for people that love Olli Olli’s format, but want something that has a more low-key and casual feel.
Skate City lets you do things at your own pace, lets you dig into the minutia of a run to work on nailing a line you have become obsessed with, and you’ll even have some chill lo-fi beats to nod along to as you proceed to drop hammers down every stair set you come across.
It’s an underrated skating game, for sure, so go and show this one some love.
Developer: Outerloop Games
Metacritic Score: 80%
Here’s another game that I initially turned my nose up at, which would go on to prove me wrong and serve as one of my indie highlights for 2023. Thirsty Suitors is a hard game to describe because it tries to be a little bit of everything.
It’s a dating sim, a turn-based RPG, a cooking game, a narrative-driven adventure, and, of course, a skating game. So, if you came here looking for a skating game with a difference, the good news is that you have found it.
This title sees you play as Jala as she returns to her hometown after a terrible breakup, and will have to face the demons of her past and work to mend relationships with past flames. It’s kind of like Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, but with more skating.
The player will skate around the town to get from one plot point to the next, and you’ll be able to visit the skate park to take on Soundie’s skate challenges in true THPS fashion. I won’t lie and say the skating is super-polished, but it’s fun and fits with the eclectic nature of the game, and that’s all that really matters.
So, if you want a game that doesn’t quite fit neatly into one genre, this is 2023’s best option for sure.
#9 – Skate Story (Bonus Entry)
Developer: Sam Eng
Metacritic Score: TBD
Now we move on to some upcoming skating games that you can’t play right now, but you should be very excited about. The first of these anticipated skaters is Skate Story, a game where you will aim to escape the Underworld and earn freedom from eternal damnation by doing what you do best. Shredding.
This game seems to be like a walking simulator of sorts, only with a board under your feet to facilitate movement instead. It’s a game that will undoubtedly offer a visual and auditory experience like no other, but putting that aside, the skating gameplay also looks very accomplished in its own right.
It seems like a game where you can enjoy it as a linear experience or get lost in the minutia of the skating mechanics and ignore your grand goal in favor of perfecting your Nollie Crooks, meaning this is a skating game for everyone. It’s like nothing we have seen before in this niche sub-genre, and one to look out for in 2024.
#10 – Sword of the Sea (Bonus Entry)
Developer: Giant Squid
Metacritic Score: TBD
When I heard that Sword of the Sea was a real thing being developed, I really had to pinch myself. A game inspired by skating games, made by the creators of Journey, one of my all-time favorite games, with Austin Wintory composing the score.
It was like it was created in a lab just for me, but I reckon that just about any skating or adventure game fan will be able to appreciate this one when it finally comes along.
Sword of the Sea will have you play as The Wraith, and you will need to travel through the beautiful lands of Necropolis to restore life to this world. You’ll need to do this by carving sand dunes on your Hoversword, which is a snowboard, skateboard, and Hoverboard combined into one.
To be a little self-indulgent for a minute, one of my all-time gaming treasured moments is sliding down the fast-paced sand section in Journey, as the sun blazes down from above to make the golden sand shimmer, and if I can do this again with the modern polish a current-gen game brings, all the while skating, well, magic wouldn’t even begin to cover it.
We are essentially getting a spiritual successor to Journey and Abzu, so get excited and get this game wishlisted pronto!
#11 – Helskate (Bonus Entry)
Developer: Phantom Coast
Metacritic Score: TBD
Then, lastly, we have another game to watch out for in the form of Helskate, an action Roguelike where you will perform skate tricks as a means of taking down demons, in a bid to rule Vertheim and become the bad boy of hell, which is no small task. It’s essentially Hades, but instead of hacking and slashing, you’ll be grinding and grabbing.
This game will urge players to think more carefully about how they engage with the long-established THPS format, as they will need to use specific combos to perform appropriate attacks for the situation, and will need to survive and thrive as long as possible in this hellscape to get enough resources to unlock new abilities and gear.
It’s a project that has veteran developers who worked on the THUG series, so the guys at the helm know how to make a good skate game, and it promises to be a skating game with a difference.
Plus, if you want to check this out right now, you can get this game in early access and support the developer as they piece this game together bit by bit.
So, if you think your skills on a board are hotter than hell, then you need to pick up Helskate when it bursts out of the fiery pits below.
Then, to cap things off, we have a few skating games that maybe just missed the mark in terms of critical recognition, or just fell short of being a top-tier entry on this list. Here are our skating indie honorable mentions:
- Skater XL
- The Ramp
- Skator Gator 3D
Do A Kickflip!
So there you have it, a bunch of games where you can kickflip, 50-50, and manual to your heart’s content. I personally still feel that there aren’t enough games out there that utilize extreme sports, but thankfully, there is still a great selection of titles to tide you over until a new wave of skating games pops up.
I hope I allowed you to add more cool games to your ever-growing wishlist, and as always, thanks for reading Indie Game Culture.
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