When a developer like True Axis, creators of the iOS classic Jet Car Stunts [$1.99 / Free], announces a new project, you take note. That's why when the studio announced back in February that they were working on a skateboarding simulation called True Skate, it shot right up into our most-anticipated games list. Well, it did in mine, anyway. I've been skateboarding for the majority of my life, and have really been waiting for a killer skating app to come to iOS.

Well, it's finally come, as True Skate [$1.99] is exactly the kind of skateboarding game that I've always wanted. Rather than being heavily mission- or story-based like the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series or EA's Skate series, True Skate is more of a sandbox toy that lets you shred around a well-designed skatepark doing whatever you feel like. There's a short list of missions to complete, and there's plenty of potential to flesh out the entire experience further, but on release True Skate is simply an excellent physics-based skateboarding simulator that's only real limit is your imagination.

Unlike other skating games, True Skate doesn't have you playing as a person skating around the open world, rather you control the skateboard itself and your fingers act as the skater. Inevitably it will draw comparisons to Touchgrind [$4.99 / $7.99 (HD)], as that's really the only similar title on iOS that's ever made any sort of splash, but it's important to note that the two games are quite different from each other.

Touchgrind had a strictly top-down view that made it very difficult to see what you were doing or where you were going. As such, you were mostly stuck with trying various flatground flip tricks or the occasional attempt at a grind or slide if you were lucky enough to line up with the object correctly without knowing exactly where it was. Touchgrind was neat to be sure, but quite limited, and it failed to give me the feeling of actually skating around a real open skatepark.

In True Skate the view is pulled back to basically a 3rd-person behind-the-board camera angle, and it changes everything. Now you can see where you want to go and what objects you want to hit up, and when you land something you can just continue on to the next thing and string together a nice line of tricks. It feels like the whole park is at your fingertips and it's really up to you on how you choose to tackle the terrain. It's a very liberating feeling, playing True Skate.

Control-wise, True Skate works very similar to Touchgrind, using various swipes and flicks to perform tricks with your board, and everything is based on how the physics of real skateboarding works. Tap down on the tail to pop the board up and then quickly level it off to perform a nice ollie, and like real skating every other trick branches out from there. Ollie and flick the side of your board to kickflip, or scoop down on the tail in sort of a "U" shaped swipe to do a varial.

Likewise grinds and slides are simply a matter of ollieing and positioning your board over the object properly and pushing down in the correct spot on the board. For example, ollie at a slight angle over a rail and push down on the front of the board to lock into a crooked grind, or ollie at 90 degrees over a ledge and push down on the tail to perform a tailslide.

It can be tricky, and will take some practice before things start to click, but eventually they do and you'll be surprised with how many different tricks are possible by combining the various flips and grinds in the game. True Skate does a better job than any other iOS game that I've played at making you believe you're really manipulating a little virtual object with the touch screen.

And this is really where True Skate shines. It offers the kind of freedom to do whatever the heck you want just by giving you the core tools you need and letting you loose inside its sandbox world. There's something almost dangerously compelling about this for me, and I find that I can't help but play True Skate whenever I have a free moment. The physics engine and controls are strong enough that even a skateboarding neophyte will be busting out cool tricks with ease once they grasp the mechanics.

Where I think True Skate will really hit home, though, is with people like me who are actually into skating. There's nothing more satisfying than thinking "I want to kickflip over that pyramid and land in a backside tailslide down the rail", and then actually doing it. Oh it might take you dozens of tries, but I assure you it's possible and when you finally pull it off it'll be tough not to let out a yelp of victory. It's moments like this that are a pure rush, and True Skate is filled with endless amounts of them for those dedicated to really explore what's possible.

I could go on and on about how much I'm enjoying True Skate, but the fact is that it falls more in the "toy" category than the "game" one, and that might not be enough for some players. There is a handful of missions to complete, but they mostly feel like tutorials since they walk you through various things that help you get in tune with the gameplay. A much more robust mission system would be welcome for those that like their games to have specific goals to complete, and it sounds like that's something that will eventually be expanded upon in the future.

Another big feature I feel is missing is some sort of replay function. It's an incredible feeling to pull off some cool trick, and it's the sort of thing you'd want to be able to save and relive or show off to your friends. There's already a slick rewind feature built in so if you mess something up you can just backtrack and retry, but there's currently no way to rewind and re-watch something you just did. The ability to upload these replays to YouTube would also be nice, to make sharing your moments even easier.

Also, there's just the one skatepark environment in True Skate. It's a great park, with a great flow and mix of different obstacles to hit, but it's bound to get kind of stale skating in the same place all the time. I'd also like some sort of board customization, as you're currently limited to just the generic True Skate board. More boards with different attributes and an upgrade system could really kill two birds with one stone, offering a way to reward mission completion with XP that then goes towards upgrading your collection of boards. Just a thought, but that goes to show just how much potential the solid base of True Skate has, and it sure sounds like True Axis is on board with plenty of ideas of their own if the game is popular enough to warrant frequent updates.

In the end, True Skate's list of back-of-the-box features leaves a lot to be desired. You get one park, one skateboard, and a handful of different goals to complete, which really won't take very long at all and mostly serve to get you acclimated with playing the game. But that's the thing: once you are acclimated, the game instantly opens up with near-limitless possibilities, and that's what I've enjoyed most.

Some gamers aren't interested in sandbox-style experiences, and you might want to hold off and see how True Skate evolves over time. But even if that's the case, for a couple of bucks this is one of the most unique games in the App Store, and a real showpiece of what a touchscreen device is capable of. That alone is likely worth the small price of admission for most.

True Skate is clearly something special. It feels like the kind of game that our touchscreen devices were made for, and looks gorgeous to boot. If you're into skateboarding already I'll just tell you flat out: buy this game, you will fall in love. If you're not heavily into skating then chances are you'll like True Skate a lot too, as long as the lack of structured goals isn't a deal-breaker for you. For me, it's the sheer act of playing that keeps me coming back, and players in our forums have been loving it as well. I have no doubt that True Skate already bests all other skating games on iOS, and has the potential to grow well beyond its stellar foundation.

For another look at True Skate in action, make sure to check out our recent TA Plays video of the game.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • http://twitter.com/mguniverse Danny Perskinstein

    Is the "lack of structured goals" the only thing keeping this game from five stars? Nonetheless, I'm glad this game got such a great review. Can't wait to pick it up.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      No, more for it missing some pretty key skateboarding things like grabs and manuals, and better handling on transition and coping. Those are the things I find myself wishing I could do more of, but I understand they're tricky to implement.

      It's still amazing all the things you can do in True Skate, but if it could do these extra things I wouldn't even care if they never added stuff to it ever again :)

      • http://twitter.com/trueaxis True Axis

        Yes, I really want to improve those lip tricks, and vert at some point. I have no good ideas about how to implement grabs in a satisfying way though, it just never made sense to me to add it to True Skate, but since some people are asking about it, it is making me think a bit... but I definitely wouldn't want to sacrifice the realism.

        One tip that is missing from the help. Hold your finger down on a transition to pump.

      • dirttyplaya

        I would say implement a hand when touching the edge of the board and a feet on the surface of the board or when swapping on the ground then the full simulation feel to this game will satisfy. THAT'S JUST MY OPINION

      • http://twitter.com/nrathaus Noam Rathaus

        Maybe pinching the board?

      • mguniverse

        I wish the game had landscape support, at least on iPad.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000128746044 Dylan Praesto

         DON'T add grabs!? that will probably destroyed the game :O you will probably be doing a grab instead of a flip when you are trying.  and if you have buttons like "dirttyplaya" said, that whould destroy the realism of the game.grabs is stupid on a touch screen, come on guys :O instead focus on adding a new location or some way to unlock boards and stuff like that.
        and btw, i'm pretty sure skate companies would sponsor you guys, and let you put real boards in you game if you wanted to :Oand manuals.. whatever, don't need it. for me, the controller of the game are a PERFECT 10. no idea what people are talking about -.-

    • Noah

      So it's basically like Touchgrind but with an altered perspective?

      • mguniverse

        Not at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EricHSapp Eric Sapp

    Does this use the whole screen on iPhone 5

    • anada

      Yep sure does

  • MidianGTX

    It definitely feels more like a "toy" than a game, but when you consider that actual skateboarding isn't really a game either, it almost becomes a non-issue. I've been playing about three hours non-stop, I can't see myself slowing down yet and updates should keep me going for as long as True Axis provides them.

    • Noah

      The Tony Hawk series did a pretty good job at making skateboarding a "game." 

      • MidianGTX

        Yeah it did, but look at it now; this feels far more authentic. It's the physics that provide freedom of expression in extreme sports, and the Tony Hawk games didn't have any.

      • skipgamer

        I couldn't disagree more. I've recently 100%ed the pc remake on three characters and would have no qualms doing it on more if I could justify the time. I just wish the iOS version didn't have such horrible controls.

  • AbsolutePhenom

    I just bought this and I find it easiest to play with my thumb and only my thumb. Am I suppose to be using two fingers? What have other people found?

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      I use just my index finger.

  • paulomureb

    Awesome game, played for 3 hours straight and become the number 1 on gamecenter. Lets see how long i stay in the top!

    • Noah

      Probably a really long time. Games like this (and I use the term game loosely) usually fall off people's iPhones quickly when it's basically a toy. 

      Case-in-point: Does anyone still regularly play the "Koi Pond" game? Yeah...

      • mguniverse

        You can't do tricks or get high scores in Koi Pond.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000128746044 Dylan Praesto

         this game is addictiv :O will probebly be on ALOT of peopels phones for a long time. it will probebly be on my ipad forever.

  • GSJ1977

    As a kid I used to ride around on a skateboard, fantasizing about having the sort of physical coordination that would allow me to perform even a basic Ollie. Now I can! True Skate makes it really easy. The only thing missing from this little fantasy-come-true is Marie Levers seeing me and deciding that she fancies me.

    • sebgo

      You got your ollie... Now keep dreaming and you'll get your Marie ;)

    • ducksFANjason

      Marie Levers is mine! You keep your damn hands off her Biff!!

      • GSJ1977

        Actually I'm pretty sure she ended up deciding she was a lesbian :-p

  • http://twitter.com/trueaxis True Axis

    Thanks for the nice write up. I am glad to see people have been having heaps of fun. I really hope we can find the time before too too long to do some of the stuff keeping this short 5/5. It is definitely mostly a toy, but we have a really solid base to expand on now and have so many ideas, and some new features already half done. It is amazing how much extra work that last 10% can be though!

    • AbsolutePhenom

      How do you recommend playing? 2 fingers or 1? And which ones?

      • http://twitter.com/trueaxis True Axis

        Up to you.

    • xzeldax3

      A XP system, which was mentioned, would be the greatest thing. I think almost every game should have some sort of level up system as a incentive to keep playing.

    • DeInit

      Love the idea, got it, enjoy it despite being a klutz. Must admit I also got it because it would go to support the making of Jet Car Stunts 2. Loved the universal update for JCS1. :)

    • Chase Morell

      I'm going to buy your app asap! looks sooooo cooool!

  • Unperson

    One of the realities of being a skater is that a board doesn't have an infinite life. Want to add another level of realism? Make it so boards deteriorate over time, and may even completely break. Then allow players to keep them as trophies.

    Another "neat, but not essential" addition would be to allow us to use our own music.

    • http://twitter.com/trueaxis True Axis

      Cool, I will make the board break, so you have to buy a new one with in game currency;) Why didn't I think of that before;)

      But seriously, broken board trophies is a cool idea. I was thinking about the possibility of making the board ware down over time... but it would take a million years to do all the ideas I had, it took long enough to do what we did.

      • sebgo

        LOL Yeah! Suck our money! xD

      • DeInit

        In-game currency = xp gained with tricks, yes?

      • http://twitter.com/trueaxis True Axis

        Thinking about similar ideas, but we have sooooo many ideas, it will be tough to choose what we do next, plus we have to get JCS2 moving, but I hope we can keep updating True Skate for a long time.

      • DeInit

        We waited for JCS1 to get Universal, we can wait for this too. ;P
        Also, many ideas is good.

      • mguniverse

        Let us design our own boards by importing images!

      • Wikilix

        I played JCS and would love JCS2, I just hope this game gets better and more advanced. It's amazing just keep it alive with updates and new features.

  • DeInit

    In-game currency = xp gained with tricks, yes?

  • YekNoM

    I just love it. One of the best unique experiences for touch devices!! I play fingerboard in "real life" ^^ and the thing i'm missing is that you can't direct the board after you catched it. I don't know how to describe. You can "aim" a fingerboard on to a rail after catch.

    Replay would be awesome!

  • YekNoM

    P.S.: for music lovers...play Spotify/Music in the background and enjoy True Skate while listening to fresh beats :DDD

  • Flan

    I'm having a blast playing the game. Really having fun with it. My only suggestions are to make it easier to frontside air off the coping and to add in manuals possibly (powerslides/reverts would be cool too). I also think it would be nice to add in an option to invert the steering. I kind of find it confusing to drag to the right to go right since I feel like I should be pulling the tail to the left to steer right if that makes sense. I get that it's meant to copy leaning the trucks that way but since the rest of the movements for flip tricks follow along with your finger dragging the deck around I think this kind of makes sense. Like I said initially though the game is a lot of fun, definitely a great way to pass the time when I can't actually get out and skate.

    • MidianGTX

      The steering and flips do match up if you consider your fingers are the skater's feet. Lean right to turn right, flick right to flip right. It's not like it suddenly inverts once you're airborne.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Макс-Шишкин/1308603038 Макс Шишкин

    First try Fridays still the best *_*

    • Scape3d

      What is "First Try Fridays?"

      • oooooomonkey

        It's a game like this for iOS but its real hard and had very nice graphics. Well worth picking up

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      I've tried that game so many times WANTING to love it, and I just couldn't get the hang of it. Conversely, True Skate I picked up and almost instantly was playing and having fun with. 

      I don't know, I guess I'll give FTF yet another shot and see what happens.

  • JJE

    Ok first complaint: my fingers are sore from playin two hours straight so maybe add a goth masseuse?

    Can't hit a rail to save my life but I'm great at jumping over'em.

    I wish the camera would respond faster when on the half pipe. Hard to build up a head of steam get air and do something crazy and dangerous.
    The same holds true when I'm nose into a wall. It would be nice to just turn around.

    Another park and more boards. Like to see that.
    Also tutorials cause I'm really a noob. The OFAP's first board was hand made from a hunk of wood and an old roller skate and it was called sidewalk surfing; deadman's hill behind my house was the achievement and turning was an option.

    Great (game/toy/whatever). True Axis you have a hit on your hands. Haven't a had this much fun with an iOS game in weeks. As they say in my neck'o'the woods:
    Wicked Pissah!

  • E=mc2

    True skate has awesome potential,I'm loving it as it is but more parks and a save replay would be very welcome,really looking forward to future upgrades,I don't skate but this is a bit special,an absolute must have for all game fans

  • Ueberdummy

    This Game rocks!!! But I miss the option to play a hotseat game of SKATE with a friend. That shouldn't be too hard to add I hope.
    I'd also like to set (and save!) a bookmark in some places so I can keep practicing the perfect line;)
    Don't need more boards or other bonuses, but another area and a few more missions would be great! Cheers

  • Jeff Strong

    Needs more open places to skate. The default park is a bit too cluttered for a street skater like me, but he app itself is fantastic

  • Chase Morell

    cool

  • Chase Morell

    True axis, are you going to promise me that you will regularly update this, because I am on the fence on this app and I always love updates!

    • http://twitter.com/trueaxis True Axis

      All I can say is that we have a lot of suggestions and ideas for updates that we really want to do, but, we are developing JCS2 as well, so it is going to be tough to find the time to update as quickly as I would love to. I think I am getting a list together of small things to fix for a first update.

  • Sailor Jensen

    I really love this game/toy. Yeah there are tons of things that can be built upon this (really excited to see the future. I think it'd be great if they can team up with name brands to put on the boards so they can make some extra $$ {you guys deserve it!}).

  • hyp

    love this game so much. they nailed it as far as making you feel like you're actually skating.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002294499476 Scott West

    Yeah, like Jensen said, try to score some big brand names to sponsor the shit out off it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mostwanted.jatt Harpreet Malhi

    this game is really awesome .i need more practise for grind and slide techniques but i found a trick to increase score.with the help of this i am in top 10 in game center  check it out in YOUTUBE  /watch?v=4fLhltykW4I&feature=p­­lcp

  • skipgamer

    The main thing this game needs for me is a way to tighten the trucks (or at least adjust sensitivity) it just feels way too loose for me personally.

    Apart from that the only thing I would like are new parks over time, I'd happily pay another $2 for each.

    Absolutely loving it so far, looking forward to Golding all the missions :D keep it up

  • http://www.facebook.com/talon.hunter.31 Talon Hunter

    He I found out side of the map there is a secret message and it ses Hannah da qutty or something like that who was that to?

  • http://www.facebook.com/talon.hunter.31 Talon Hunter

    Hey I found secret messages out side of the map. One said Hannah da qutty or something like that. Who was that to?

  • Art4all

    Wtf is wrong wit carving on this game?!

  • Art4all

    Ur following missions are impossible... How do u carve in this game... It's easier on the real thing !

True Skate Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4.5